Senior Director, NK Biology

Are you a highly motivated, collaborative, and scientifically curious individual? If so, we're seeking you, and your bold ideas, to co-lead and accelerate the development of our research programs for patients in need. Here, at Astellas, we are a driven bunch with a passion for testing the capabilities of iPSC-derived cells and for developing them into transformational therapies. If you want to be part of this exciting work, you belong at Astellas!

Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are committed to turning innovative science into medical solutions that bring value and hope to patients and their families. Keeping our focus on addressing unmet medical needs and conducting our business with ethics and integrity enables us to improve the health of people throughout the world. For more information on Astellas, please visit our website at

Universal Cells, an affiliate of Astellas located in Seattle, WA, is focused on the development and commercialization of stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies. We conduct clinical-grade gene editing of stem cells to produce cells that avoid rejection and can be used in allogeneic cell therapy treatments to treat all patients that need them. Through our diversity, scientific knowledge, professional rigor and focus on innovation, we are merging our technology with the Astellas drug development expertise to unlock cures to many indications.



Universal Cells (UCI) is announcing an Associate Director, Program Management, Cell Therapy opportunity at our facility in Seattle, WA.

Purpose and Scope:

The primary purpose of the Senior Director, NK Biology is to provide strategic direction for and develop, plan, and execute cancer therapy programs to expand the pipeline of universal donor pluripotent stem cell-derived cell therapies for the treatment of human cancers. This position will recommend decision-making criteria and drive execution of business strategies aligned with divisional objectives. The Senior Director will be responsible for leading a team of experienced scientists and research associates providing both strategic and scientific direction and oversight to ensure program timelines and key milestones are met. The Senior Director, NK Biology is accountable for meeting all program deliverables.

Essential Job Responsibilities:

  • Develop and execute the strategy for expanding the pipeline of NK cell products using universal donor iPSCs and ensure the success in meeting objectives and timelines

  • Direct and manage the in vitro NK and in vivo Pharmacology teams and ensure the teams are producing the highest quality science in all aspects of research.

  • Define team roles, responsibilities, goals, and deliverables including resource allocation and forecasting budget. Facilitate productive, results-oriented meetings and ensure positive team dynamics.

  • Direct team to design and execute proof-of-concept and IND-enabling in vitro and in vivo studies to prove efficacy and safety of universal donor iPSC derived immune cell therapies.

  • Lead projects to key milestones (MS-A, MS-B, Candidate Nomination) or supervise scientists that lead/co-lead these projects

  • Actively identify and establish productive relationships with collaborators within the Astellas Research Organization and outside the company to initiate and support projects and programs across multiple initiatives

  • Partner closely with other managers in Universal Cells to drive scientific programs through cross department collaboration

  • Be a subject matter expert across Astellas for NK cell therapy, especially for matters related to therapeutic discovery and technologies; communicate to internal and external audiences

  • Lead, coach, and mentor PhD and non-PhD level scientists to maximize project success. Actively promote continuous learning to assist in their career development

  • Facilitate desired organizational culture and environment to foster innovation and growth.

  • Develop and continually improve departmental functioning including capital needs, development of SOPs, and other processes to optimize working efficiency

  • Author preclinical study reports and support regulatory filings

  • Participate in the evaluation of new technologies/products and other Business Development-related activities

  • Member of the Universal Cells leadership team

Quantitative Dimensions:

  • Direct impact on cancer cell therapy pipeline, with metrics based on early development milestones, but especially CN and pre-CN milestones

Organizational Context:

  • Position reports to the Executive Director, Head of Research

  • Leads multiple research functions within the Universal Cells organization

  • Recruits and hires


  • PhD or MD with 16+ years relevant post-doc and industry experience with a strong background in NK Cell Biology, Oncology, Immunology, or related field

  • Deep understanding identifying and progressing NK cell therapy products, including a demonstrated record for such via publications/presentations/successful preclinical stage cell therapy discovery programs

  • Successful leadership of immune cell therapy programs from discovery to IND filing in the Oncology space

  • 7+ years demonstrated people leadership experience, including the management of PhD level scientists

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

  • Excellent negotiation skills, with the ability to collaborate with the interests of the greater Astellas organization in mind

  • Drives decisions and consensus by influencing key stakeholders and leaders.

  • Ability to lead across organizational boundaries and influence without reporting line authority

  • Collaborative team player who can think and act quickly; identify creative solutions to complex problems, communicate and act quickly to the benefit of the team and meeting objectives.

  • Strong attention to detail with the ability to articulate quality related risks and potential impact.

  • Belief in transparency and open communication and the ability for an individual’s power to improve and enable those around them.


  • Prior experience managing an animal pharmacology team and overseeing development of xenograft mouse models for oncology

  • Experience with monoclonal antibodies, immune cell engagers

  • Development of NK cell platform to enhance expansion and potency

Working Conditions

  • The duties of this role are generally conducted in a lab environment, working onsite.

  • Travel (<10% of time) as required

Salary Range :

  • $199,500 - $266,000 (NOTE: Final salary could be more or less, based on experience)


  • Medical, Dental and Vision Insurance

  • Generous Paid Time Off options, including Vacation, Sick time, plus national holidays including Heritage Days, and Summer and Winter Breaks

  • 401(k) match and annual company contribution

  • Company paid life insurance

  • Annual Corporate Bonus and Quarterly Sales Incentive for eligible positions

  • Long Term Incentive Plan for eligible positions

  • Referral bonus program

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, sex, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, or on the basis of disability.


Category Research & Development

Astellas is committed to equality of opportunity in all aspects of employment.

EOE including Disability/Protected Veterans