Associate Director, Research Communications
Communications | New York, NY
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 global funder of Parkinson’s disease research outside the U. S. federal government, having funded over $325 million in research projects in both academic and industry labs worldwide. Our portfolio has grown commensurate with our fundraising success and we made over $56 million in new grants in 2012. 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 approximately 80 full-time employees.
Reporting to the Vice President, Marketing & Communications, the Associate Director, Research Communications is primarily responsible for creating vibrant content that conveys the objectives and promise of MJFF-funded research initiatives. The right person for this position will have an avid interest in proactively developing and managing a content pipeline comprising both assigned and self-initiated stories. We are looking for an individual who would enjoy immersing him or herself in the Foundation’s research activities in order to generate content serving two distinct audiences: (1) researchers, clinicians and other professional stakeholders in Parkinson’s drug development, who interact with MJFF as a source of funding opportunities, research resources and tools, and field leadership; and (2) Parkinson’s patients and MJFF supporters, who must be kept up to date on the state of our progress toward a cure and continually apprised of opportunities and compelling new reasons to take action and get involved. This is an onsite position in our New York (Midtown West) office and is not conducive to telecommuting. Some travel will be required.
In the Foundation’s fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment, the Associate Director, Research Communications will be expected to:
• Hold daily informal and formal conversations and interviews with members of the Foundation’s research staff to create content that conveys the Foundation’s mission, challenges and promise
• Interact frequently with grantees, external advisors and other experts
• Maintain a content pipeline and workflow that leverages these interactions with internal staff and external experts to generate a high volume of clear and compelling science writing
• Pitch new content ideas as well as act on content needs assigned by others
• Serve as the primary liaison between the Research team and the Marketing/Communications team, so that important research developments are appropriately flagged and promoted
• Exhibit a self-starting interest in keeping abreast of key scientific developments through regular consumption of science coverage in the mainstream press
• Attend and contribute to internal and external research meetings and conferences
• Work closely with adjunct contributors (such as freelancers and independent/contract documentarians) to generate and produce high-quality multi-media content
• Review and edit research partners’ grant abstracts and progress reports for clarity and lay-friendliness
These activities are in service of the Associate Director, Research Communications’ creation of content serving MJFF’s professional and lay audiences as follows:
• For the professional (scientific) audience — Optimize MJFF communications streams to researchers, with a particular focus on developing strategy for improved researcher engagement around MJFF funding opportunities and resources. The goal is to effectively position and grow the Foundation as a resource for those on the front lines of drug development by:
o Promoting funding opportunities, research tools and resource availability
o Promoting MJFF scientific meetings and conferences
o Positioning new and ongoing opportunities for scientific collaboration
o Showcasing holistic opportunities for engagement
o Laying out MJFF research priorities in an evolving field
• For the lay (patient and caregiver) audience — Translate research activities into compelling written content that positions MJFF as the pre-eminent field leader in Parkinson’s research, worthy of donor support. This content typically includes but is by no means limited to:
o Reporting and writing researcher profiles
o Reporting and writing lay-oriented updates on MJFF initiatives and field-wide developments in PD drug development
o Conducting interviews with and profiling patients who have undergone specific therapeutic interventions (e.g. deep brain stimulation surgery)
o Writing scientific meeting outcomes and summaries
o Reporting on opportunities for the lay audience to take action and participate in research
o Laying out MJFF research priorities in an evolving field
Content generation will span print and digital channels, including MJFF’s FoxFeed Blog, our print newsletter The Fox Focus on Parkinson’s, our FoxFlash e-news alerts, ongoing Web development, press releases, sponsorship materials and grant proposals, collateral/brochures, external partner publications and other vehicles as needed. Given the high volume and fast pace of work at MJFF, the ideal candidate will appreciate the value of generating high-quality content that can be judiciously leveraged across various channels and for different audiences.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is well-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 (avoiding oversimplification of technical material), directness (speaking plainly and never sugar-coating) and authenticity (never overpromising, never biased). The successful Associate Director, Research Communications will work to absorb this voice and quickly begin to incorporate it in his/her writing.
Qualifications and Experience Needed:
• B.A. degree and a minimum of 5-7 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 pressureHow to Apply:
- Interested candidates should send a resume and thoughtful cover letter describing your specific qualifications and interest in the position.
- Please, no telephone inquiries. Applicants who best match the position needs will be contacted.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.