Research & Development Jobs in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Help transform healthcare with a career in pharmaceutical research and development, joining the forefront of scientific discovery where your expertise can lead to groundbreaking treatments and life-saving medication. Explore opportunities to make a lasting impact in the ever-evolving world of pharmaceuticals.

R&D Pharmaceutical Opportunities

What is R&D in the pharmaceutical industry?

Research and development (also known as “R&D”) in the pharmaceutical industry involves the process of discovering, designing, and developing new medications, diagnostic and treatment methods, or medical devices. This includes everything from initial research to understanding diseases, identifying potential drug candidates, conducting preclinical and clinical trials, and ultimately bringing safe and effective treatments to market. R&D is crucial for innovation and the advancement of medical science, ensuring that new and improved options are available to meet the evolving healthcare needs of patients worldwide.

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What are R&D roles within the pharmaceutical industry? 

Here are some key aspects of R&D within the life sciences industry:

Discovery Research

This involves identifying new drug targets, understanding disease mechanisms, and discovering new molecules or biological entities with therapeutic potential. It often takes place in academic institutions, government research agencies, and industry research labs.

Preclinical Development

Once a potential drug candidate has been identified, preclinical development involves further testing in laboratory and animal models to assess safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics (PK). This role also involves formulation development and optimisation following testing outcomes.

Clinical Development

This involves a series of clinical trials to evaluate safety and efficacy of medication: Phase I is carried out in small groups with healthy volunteers, Phase II includes larger groups of patients with the target disease, and Phase III is large-scale testing with diverse patient populations.

Regulatory Affairs

Professionals in these roles ensure that R&D complies with applicable regulations and guidelines set by agencies such as the FDA in the US, the EMA in Europe, and others worldwide. They also prepare and submit applications for approval of new drugs and medical devices.

Translational Research

Translational research focuses on bridging the gap between basic research and clinical applications. It involves applying discoveries made in the laboratory to the development of new diagnostics, therapies, and medical devices to bring viable treatments to patients and improve outcomes.

Post-Market Research

Even after a product has been approved and brought to market, R&D activities continue! Post-market research involves monitoring the safety and efficacy of products in real-world settings, and conducting additional studies to support new indications, dosage forms, or patient populations.

R&D Pharmaceutical Opportunities

Why choose a research and development (R&D) role in the pharmaceutical industry?

Research and development (R&D) roles can be highly rewarding, allowing candidates to:

  • Contribute to discovering and developing new medications that can save lives and improve the quality of life for millions of people.
  • Be at the cutting edge of scientific research, exploring new ideas and technologies that can lead to groundbreaking treatments.
  • Enjoy diverse career paths and continuous learning opportunities within an evolving industry.
  • Work with interdisciplinary teams of scientists, researchers, and healthcare professionals – fostering a collaborative work environment.
  • Engage in projects that have a worldwide impact – addressing global health challenges and making a difference on a large scale.
Commercial Pharmaceutical Opportunities

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Discover where your career opportunities can take you. Visit our careers page to find your next exciting role in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Our experience at Entrust Resource Solutions

At Entrust Resource Solutions (ERS), our team brings a wealth of expertise and dedication to life sciences and STEM recruitment. Through decades of combined experience, we have been pivotal in driving company growth and executing strategic acquisitions for our clients. 

We offer a unique “bench to board” resourcing service and are actively working to bridge sector skills gaps and foster the next generation of life sciences professionals. We match clients with candidates using a personalised and human-centric approach that delivers outstanding service across temporary and permanent placements to ensure you not only find the right hire but the right fit for your business.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Frequently asked questions about R&D roles in the pharmaceutical industry


What does the R&D department do in the pharmaceutical industry?

R&D covers a range of job roles in any pharmaceutical company, including (but not always limited to):

  • Drug Discovery: The process of identifying, developing, and validating new medications or treatment options to improve human health.
  • Preclinical Research: Conducting laboratory-based and animal studies to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs or treatment methods.
  • Clinical Trials: Managing and monitoring human clinical trials to ensure new drugs are safe, effective, and efficient in curing or managing the condition they are designed for.
  • Regulatory Affairs: Preparing and submitting documentation to regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EMA to gain approval for new drugs before entering the market.
  • Process Development: Developing and optimising the manufacturing processes for new medications, devices, and methods of treatment.
  • Product Development: Enhancing formulation, testing stability, and improving packaging so as to allow medications to be brought to market and remain viable from the point of distribution to when they are taken by the patient. 


How do I get into R&D in the pharmaceutical industry?

There are many routes to entering the industry and while a relevant post-graduate degree in life sciences, chemistry or pharmacy is preferred, other related fields can also be advantageous alongside work experience, professional development courses, and more. Entry-level positions include research assistant roles and laboratory technician jobs that can help you build your experience.


What skills are required for success in pharmaceutical R&D?

While our team will be able to provide tailored guidance depending on the job role you would like to apply for, most roles require you to show:

  • Analytical skills – the ability to analyse complex data and come to meaningful conclusions.
  • Attention to detail: precision in conducting experiments and recording results.
  • Communication skills: clear presentation of research findings that can be easily understood by other team members.
  • Problem-solving skills: innovative approaches to overcoming research challenges.
  • Project management skills: the ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines.


How can I get started in a research and development (R&D) pharma role?

To get started in an R&D pharma role and learn more about the opportunities available to you, speak to our team about current and upcoming positions.