Associate Director, Scientist, Research Programs

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research | New York, New York

Background

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) was founded in 2000 with one clear objective: accelerating meaningful therapeutic advances and, ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD). 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 global funder of Parkinson’s disease research outside the U. S. federal government, having funded over $800 million in research projects in both academic and industry labs worldwide.

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 therapeutic strategies and tools in the hopes of building a robust pipeline of new treatments for patients. In order to achieve our mission of finding a cure for PD it is critical that we engage with, and bring together, members of the PD community including researchers, physicians, health professionals and most important, people with Parkinson's and their families. We believe that raising the Foundation’s profile with a broader audience will help us more efficiently reach and mobilize highly engaged stakeholders who are more likely to feel personally vested in helping speed progress toward a cure.

We believe that to find a cure for PD as quickly as possible, our capital needs to push research forward today—we therefore deliberately have no endowment. We instead start our fundraising from zero each year and seek to deploy funds raised as quickly and wisely as possible. MJFF raises over $90 million annually. Today, the Foundation has approximately 130 full-time employees who are based in New York City.

The Research Team is the core driver of MJFF’s mission to accelerate development of new and improved PD therapies. Within this team, the Research Programs group is responsible for collaborating with key opinion leaders to assess the PD research and drug development landscape, develop and manage the strategic agenda and priorities for MJFF scientific initiatives and programs, and provide the MJFF scientific point of view. Through a combination of grant-making and strategic coordination roles, the Research Programs group acts with a ‘no stone left unturned’ philosophy to enable a robust and accelerated pipeline of promising ideas today that have the best chance for becoming promising PD treatments tomorrow.

Job Summary

The Associate Director, Scientist, Research Programs, plays a key role in executing the MJFF scientific research agenda. With an understanding of key concepts in biomedical (preferably neuroscience/neurological) research and/or drug development, the Associate Director will be responsible for managing a variety of activities critical to our mission. These include: identifying, reviewing, funding and managing assigned grants and programs; implementing strategic initiatives; coordinating program assessments and workshops; engaging with key opinion leaders and stakeholders; and interacting with the donor/patient community when required.

The Associate Director will report to a primary Director. However, in order to adjust to shifts and needs in the research and drug development landscape, our team structure is purposely flexible and dynamic and staff may also report day-to-day to more than one program or initiative leader at any point in time.

This is a full-time, on-site position located in New York City and is not conducive to telecommuting.

Responsibilities

Primary roles and responsibilities

The Associate Director, Scientist, Research Programs, will have primary responsibilities and accountability in the following areas:

  • Programmatic
    • Effectively, pro-actively and tactically managing assigned portfolios and programs through all stages of grant-making and funding from proposal development, review, contracting, milestone management and close-out, troubleshooting and problem solving as issues arise.
    • Shaping, recommending and communicating creative, solutions focused, value-added MJFF PD scientific goals and “point of view” within assigned portfolios, leveraging internal team and external advisor input.
    • Identifying and recommending new ideas in unexplored areas of PD research that may lead to opportunities for MJFF funding and impact.
    • Educating self on current key scientific advances and challenges relevant to Parkinson’s disease.
    • Organizational
      • Developing and maintaining strong, positive relationships with research community and key opinion leaders in assigned programs and portfolios
      • Being organizational point person for internal and external communication of progress in assigned programs and portfolios
      • Supporting donor/fundraising stewardship as required

Qualifications

The position requires a motivated, scientifically trained individual with a hands-on, detail-oriented, flexible, pro-active and solutions-seeking workstyle. Successful candidates will be comfortable working in a collaborative team environment (including use of digital communication tools), be highly adept at delving into projects to support aggressive team goals and have the ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects simultaneously. Successful candidates will also be willing and able to work within the foundations many different program areas as organizational and strategic needs arise.

Additional requirements include:

  • Graduate degree (PhD) in Neuroscience/Neurology, Pharmacology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry or related discipline with ideally 1-4 years of postdoctoral or related experience. Deep expert knowledge of Parkinson’s disease is not required but is preferred and helpful in ensuring rapid integration into the role.
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively across internal and external teams.
  • Excellent relationship management, interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills, including ability and confidence in speaking to both professional/technical and lay audiences
  • Excellent attention to detail and ability to prioritize and manage multiple complex tasks while maintaining composure under demanding deadlines.
  • Flexibility and willingness to adapt when necessary to programmatic, strategic, team and organizational shifts and needs.
  • Strong passion for science and its translation into meaningful therapies for patients.
  • 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.
  • Strong interpersonal skills: ability to manage (often without authority) and be managed.
  • Excellent computer skills, including mastery of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and current collaborative team communication platforms (e.g., Outlook, Microsoft Teams)
  • Willingness to travel (domestic and international) for meetings and conferences when required.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should submit a resume and thoughtful cover letter describing their specific qualifications and interest in the position to this link. Submissions without cover letters will not be considered. Please, no telephone inquiries and do not contact our staff directly. Only applicants who best match the position needs will be contacted.

 

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

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Organization: Grantmaking Public Charities