Schrödinger hires ex-Eisai, Merck staff for push into clinic

Duncan Hamish Wright and W. George Lai further Schrödinger’s efforts to add translational science expertise. (Pixabay)

Schrödinger has hired researchers from Eisai and Merck to support the progress of its wholly owned assets toward the clinic. News of the hires comes weeks after Schrödinger pulled in more cash to fund its evolution into a biotech with an internal pipeline.

New York-based Schrödinger is a veteran of computer-enabled biopharma R&D, but for most of its history it has used its capabilities to support the ambitions of other companies through collaborations and the co-foundation of affiliated biotechs. Recently, Schrödinger has stepped up its internal drug discovery efforts, leading it to raise $110 million and go looking for talent that can spend the money well.

The search for new hires ended with the recruitment of Duncan Hamish Wright and W. George Lai. Wright has joined as vice president of translational science. Lai will lead Schrödinger’s translational PK/PD and drug metabolism group.

Both researchers join after long stints at larger companies. Wright spent more than 15 years at Merck, rising from the role of clinical monitor to serve as executive director for business development and licensing. The executive director role gave Wright responsibility for the scientific evaluation and execution of licensing deals and partnerships.

Lai spent more than a decade at Eisai, heading up the DMPK department for the second half of his time at the company. Prior to joining Eisai, Lai worked for about nine years at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Wright and Lai further Schrödinger’s efforts to add translational science expertise to complement its existing drug discovery capabilities. That effort saw Schrödinger hire another ex-Merck researcher, Karen Akinsanya, as chief biomedical scientist last year. Akinsanya sees the new employees benefiting Schrödinger as it heads toward clinical development.

“As our proprietary programs advance, we are expanding our translational science capabilities to ensure that we can continue to make rapid progress,” Akinsanya said in a statement. “Hamish and George have the experience and the expertise to guide our programs as we transition compounds to the clinical candidate stage.”