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Associate Director, Research Communications

Communications | New York, NY | Full Time

Job Description

About Us:

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 $525 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 90 full-time employees. 


Position Description:

The Communications team has an opening for an Associate Director, Research Communications, responsible for strategizing, writing, editing and directing production of communications plans and content that convey the objectives and promise of MJFF’s scientific programs, patient advocacy and research engagement initiatives to speed a cure for Parkinson’s disease.


The Associate Director, Research Communications, will research, write and edit short-form Web and social content as well as newsletters, emails, talking points and other materials as required by the overall marketing/communications program. This role works across teams to determine messaging strategy and create engaging publicity materials toward Foundation goals.


The successful candidate will bring 8 to 10 years’ relevant strategic communications experience, preferably in health care, patient advocacy or life sciences settings. A proven ability to think strategically, distill complex messages and craft persuasive, clearly written material is a must. The right candidates will take pride in having the fluidity and versatility to write for multiple audiences and purposes.


Responsibilities include:

  • Working closely with the Senior Associate Director, Research Communications, and the Research Communications Officer on strategic communications plans to promote the Foundation’s scientific agenda to research and lay audiences;
  • Playing a lead role in executing research communications plans, including writing and editing presentations and talking points for leadership, blog posts, press releases, collateral, social media postings, Web content and other as needed;
  • Conceiving and implementing strategies and materials to increase patient engagement in research initiatives and advocacy efforts surrounding Parkinson’s drug development;
  • Contributing to science media relations efforts, including (in partnership with the Foundation’s PR agency) identifying potential stories for the consumer and trade press, writing and editing pitches, press releases and other media outreach materials, and coordinating earned and paid media opportunities;
  • Liaising with the Digital Strategy team on the Foundation’s website and ensuring that our Web strategy continually evolves to best serve our research audiences and information is up to date;
  • Proofreading and copy editing;
  • Contributing to project and administrative support for the department, including overseeing the processing of invoices and expense reports, tracking/maintaining media files, managing vendor relationships and contracts, and other as needed.


Finalist candidates will be asked to take a writing test.


Every member of the Communications team at MJFF must demonstrate a track record of hard work, strong attention to detail, excellent project management and the ability to meet competing deadlines and manage multiple projects at once.


Qualification and Experience needed

  • B.A. degree and a minimum of 8-10 years’ experience in marketing/communications and PR, preferably within the biotech or pharma industry; or experience as a science journalist
  • Intrepid reporting and top-notch writing skills
  • Curiosity and inquisitiveness about science and the research endeavor as it relates to curing disease
  • Demonstrated ability to translate complex scientific concepts into compelling news stories and pitches (please be prepared to share a portfolio of your best samples)
  • Ability to connect research findings with the Foundation’s mission and put our work in the context of the larger Parkinson’s landscape
  • Experience developing and executing communications strategies and plans that are aligned with business objectives
  • Experience using blogs and social media as a distribution channel for the promotion of news and cultivation of community
  • Integrated marketing communications or agency experience a plus
  • Ability to work with people at all levels; diplomatic personality
  • Sense of humor and ability to remain calm and professional under pressure


The Michael J. Fox Foundation is known for its optimistic, problem-solving approach to Parkinson’s drug development, and has an established organizational voice — a tone of excellence (high-quality journalistic inquiry that is authoritative but never arrogant), simplicity (while avoiding oversimplification of technical material), directness (speaking plainly and never sugar-coating) and authenticity (never overpromising, never biased). The Associate Director, Research Communications, will be expected to work to absorb this voice and quickly incorporate it in their writing.


This is an onsite position in our New York City (Midtown West) office and is not conducive to telecommuting. Some travel may be required.


How to Apply


Interested candidates should submit a resume, up to three relevant writing samples, and thoughtful cover letter describing their specific qualifications and interest in the position. 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.