Associate Director, Research Programs

Michael J. Fox Foundation | New York, New York


The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) was founded in 2000 with one clear objective: finding a cure for Parkinson's disease (PD) in our lifetime. The Foundation applies extraordinary scientific, business and media assets to this singular focus--thus creating a unique and dynamic organization. Since inception, MJFF has quickly grown into the largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's disease research worldwide, having funded more than $600 million in research projects in academic and industry labs worldwide. We exist to put ourselves out of business, so we deliberately hold no endowment but instead spend what we raise quickly and efficiently; 89 cents of every dollar spent goes directly to research programs. Core to our philosophy is how we think of our capital and its risk profile relative to other stakeholders in the drug development pipeline. We work aggressively to de-risk various treatment ideas and tools in the hopes of building a robust pipeline of new treatments for patients. Today, the Foundation has about 100 full-time employees.

Job Summary

Within MJFF, the Research Programs team supports the Foundation's mission of developing new and improved PD therapies through its focus on three key activities:

  • Developing the strategic research agenda and priorities for MJFF scientific initiatives
  • Selecting the most appropriate research projects that warrant MJFF support
  • Management of research awards through peer-to-peer partnerships

Position description

The Associate Director, Research Programs, will play a key role in driving the MJFF research agenda. High-dimensional Parkinson's datasets ("big data") are emerging from deep molecular profiling and digital phenotyping studies that require novel analytic approaches to provide new insights into the disease. MJFF seeks a motivated and strategic scientist to support investments in computational approaches. This person will be responsible for developing and executing the MJFF research strategy in computational science for Parkinson's disease. Through working with external experts in the field, this position will develop novel and innovative ways to clean/curate/organize data, share data, analyze data, and translate discoveries into actionable biomarkers or targets. Working with domain experts, this position will create collaborative approaches to promote and establish multimodal analysis of large and diverse datasets.

Success in this position will critically rely on a close collaboration with members of MJFF research teams, as well as management of key external players. The job requires a hands-on, detail-oriented, flexible, and solutions-seeking individual who is capable of delving into projects to support aggressive team goals, as well as the ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects simultaneously. This is a fulltime, onsite position located in New York City and is not conducive to telecommuting.


Primary roles and responsibilities:

  • Shaping of MJFF PD scientific "point of view".
  • Developing and rapidly executing strategic action plans to address critical field challenges that consider both internal team and external advisor input and creatively position MJFF to have clear impact.
  • Managing strategic plans at all stages from concept development, leading consortia meetings, grant review process, grant contracting and milestone management, troubleshooting and problem solving as issues arise.
  • Developing strong relationships with research community and key opinion leaders.
  • Reporting directly to the Director, Research Programs, and ensuring senior management and other MJFF staff receives current updates on key programmatic activities.


Ideal candidates will possess:

  • Graduate degree (Masters or PhD) in data science, computational biology, or related discipline
  • Experience in one or more of the following areas preferred: machine learning, pattern recognition, large-scale data mining, systems biology
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively across internal and external teams
  • Excellent relationship management, interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills
  • Excellent attention to detail and ability to prioritize and manage multiple complex tasks while maintaining composure under demanding deadlines
  • Flexibility in approach and willingness to adapt when necessary
  • Strong passion for science and the therapeutic development process
  • Excellent independent decision-making and judgment skills.
  • Creative, "out of the box" thinking.
  • Strong project and time management skills with an innate sense of pace and urgency to get the job done.
  • Ability to work productively and proactively, both independently and as part of a team.
  • Flexibility and willingness to move from project to project based on Foundation and team needs
  • Strong interpersonal skills: ability to manage (often without authority) and be managed.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including ability and confidence in speaking to both professional/technical and lay audiences.
  • Excellent computer skills, including mastery of Word, Excel and PowerPoint

How to Apply

Interested candidates should send a resume and thoughtful cover letter describing your specific qualifications and interest in the position here: Submissions without cover letters will not be considered. Please, no telephone inquiries. Applicants who best match the position needs will be contacted.

The Michael J Fox Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

Michael J. Fox Foundation