Director, NK Cell Differentiation; Seattle, Washington

Universal Cells is focused on the development and commercialization of stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies. We conduct clinical-grade gene editing of stem cells and have a major effort in R&D. We design and produce stem cells that avoid rejection, and we engineer cells with improved therapeutic properties, all through our world-class gene editing platform.

Our goal is to provide cells for regenerative medicine applications that can treat all patients. Through internal R&D and our corporate partnerships, we are pursuing a diverse range of disease indications, including blindness, cancer, vascular insufficiency, and autoimmune diseases.

Universal Cells is announcing a Director, NK Cells Program Expansion opportunity at their facility in Seattle, WA.


The primary purpose of the Director of Natural Killer (NK) Cells Program Expansion will be the implementation of NK Cell production for the Universal Cells NK cell therapy program. This position will provide subject matter expertise and insight into the development, differentiation, and scale-up of Natural Killer cells manufacturing, related to universal donor NK cells derived from pluripotent stem cells. This position will develop and ensure timelines and quality standards are met; will play an integral role in troubleshooting technical production issues; inspire and develop team members to excel; and will be accountable for meeting deliverables for NK Cells production.

Universal Cells is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas Pharma. Astellas is an R&D-driven global pharmaceutical company whose philosophy is to contribute to the improvement of people’s health around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products.

Essential Job Responsibilities:

  • Creates a strategic and tactical plan for Universal Cells NK cell manufacturing.
  • Demonstrates a thorough knowledge of process development, manufacturing and distribution for cell therapy production
  • Executes process optimization, scale up and tech transfer as needed to Astellas affiliate location for future growth and GMP production
  • Prepares/reviews technical documents including development/tech transfer reports, process characterization reports, batch records, SOPs and CMC regulatory submissions
  • Facilitates technical transfer proactively with detailed process/analysis development function and scale up to manufacturing with required level of GMP and stability
  • Exercises technical discretion in the design, execution and interpretation of experiments that contribute to project goals
  • Makes detailed observations, analyzes data and interprets results
  • Prepares technical reports, summaries, protocols, and quantitative analyses
  • Presents progress to UCells Leadership team and at R&D group meetings
  • Aligns priorities across functional groups and external contractors / consultants.
  • Performs research and/or development in collaboration with other R&D teams
  • May conduct hands-on experimentation as needed
  • Participates in relevant partnership activities and scientific meetings as indicated
  • Performs other duties as assigned or special projects as needed

This position interacts with all levels of management on a routine basis and influences policy and strategy both internally and externally. Works on complex and diverse problems giving guidance and suggestions.

This position will report to the Chief Scientific Officer for Universal Cells and manage a team of 2-4 direct reports with a primary focus on demonstrating NK cell functionality.



  • PhD with 8+ years of post-doctoral experience in lymphocyte/immunology research, MS with 10+ or BS with 12+
  • Conceptual knowledge of innate and adaptive immune cells and immunomodulatory cytokines
  • Hands-on experience in cytotoxicity assays and culture of lymphocytes/NK cells
  • Excellent scientific writing and editing as well as written/oral communication skills
  • Demonstrated industry experience or academic achievement, as evidenced by drug development portfolio or publications in high impact journals
  • Maturity to lead a program focused on NK cell therapies with in depth understanding of translational science, pathophysiology, and clinical unmet needs
  • Ability to thrive and flourish in an entrepreneurial early stage company environment that requires “hands-on” implementation, optimal use of limited resources and an ability to work closely with others in a small team setting
  • Ability to foster and balance a culture of compliance within a culture of innovation
  • Strategic thinking; Ability to influence without authority, in a matrix environment
  • Exerts influence in the development of overall objectives and long-range goals of the organization
  • Strong time-management and organizational skills coupled with a sense of urgency and strong work ethic
  • Must have critical thinking skills, robust technical writing skills, strong scientific skills, good interpersonal communication skills
  • Exercises judgment within broadly defined practices and policies in selecting methods, techniques and evaluation criteria for obtaining results
  • Collaborative team player who has the ability to think and act quickly and identify creative solutions to complex problems
  • Strong attention to detail with the ability to articulate quality related risks and potential impact
  • Leadership skills and ability to inspire colleagues
  • Proficient knowledge of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook


  • Experience with human or mouse pluripotent stem cell manipulation
  • Experience with managing team in preclinical R&D
  • Experience managing projects and teams is highly preferred