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Associate Director, Research Operations

Research | 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: 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 $300 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 70 full-time employees who are based in New York City. 


Over the past 12 years, MJFF has developed an effective process to identify the most promising scientific leads, understand the translational obstacles and implement strategies to overcome the challenges and advance new therapies to patients. Creative thinking about optimal fund allocation and proactive grant management are two core responsibilities of the team.


Currently, MJFF manages a broad portfolio of projects chosen primarily for patient impact. Our active grant portfolio includes over 500 grants to academic and industry research labs globally.  MJFF research staff and advisors peer-review more than 900 PD-specific proposals each year, and the Foundation has face-to-face interactions with over 500 field experts. This enables MJFF to assess, and reassess when necessary, the needs in the field and strategically deploy our funds placing us at the nexus of activity in the Parkinson’s field and adding unique value to every dollar we allocate. 


Within the research programs team, the Associate Director, Research Operations plays an important role in driving towards our organizational objectives.  With involvement in most of the research programs activities, including proposal reviews, project development, strategic meetings, communication with advisory groups, contracting, and grant administration, the Associate Director, Research Operations serves as the project manager driving activities on the team.  Associate Directors, Research Operations will work closely with their scientific counterparts (Associate Directors, Research Programs) and the Grant Administration team to evaluate the best processes for moving PD projects forward.  These decisions may involve technology transfer, contracting, or administrative issues, among others.  Finally, the Associate Director, Research Operations plays a crucial role in team priority projects, inserting strategic input and oversight. 


Specific responsibilities of the Associate Director, Research Operations include:


  1. Strategy:  Shaping MJFF “point of view” and developing strategic action plan for MJFF portfolio
    • Work with others at the Foundation to solicit input and opinions from a variety of advisors and then translate them into action steps for MJFF (strategic perspective is critical here)
    • Active focus on asking “What should the Foundation do?  What role should the Foundation play?”  in MJFF and non-MJFF meetings
    • Focus on “connecting the dots”  and thinking creatively about next steps for the Foundation, as well as anticipating opportunities and/or challenges
    • Concentration on the Foundation’s role and position regarding clinical trial topics, as well as intellectual property, licensing terms and other technology transfer items



  1. Project Management:  Executing strategic action plans and actively managing investment portfolio
    • Designing program concepts and executing them from a business and strategic point of view (designing and negotiating contract agreements, planning and executing communication surrounding program launch and funding, managing and facilitating related meetings)
    • Driving research activities forward utilizing creative, efficient and strategic project management in line with the Foundation’s mission and goals
    • Troubleshooting and problem solving as issues arise; excellent decision-making and ability to make judgment calls on tough issues in grant management
    • Responsibility for reaching out to key advisors for participation in various MJFF programs and strategic meetings
  2. Relationship Management:  Development of relationships and outreach with the research community
  3. Conducting site visits
  4. Working with Scientific Advisory Board and other advisors


Key attributes of an outstanding Associate Director, Research Operations are excellent decision-making and judgment, creative “out of the box” thinking, and strong project and time management skills. An innate sense of pace and urgency as well as the ability to work productively and proactively, both independently and as part of a team, are key.


Job Requirements:  As mentioned, strong candidates must have significant project management experience, strong oral and written communication skills and experience developing and implementing new projects.  Advanced degrees, such as an MA, MBA, MPA, JD and relevant management or strategy experience are preferred.  This is a full-time onsite position located in New York City (in midtown west area of Manhattan) and is not conducive to telecommuting.  Associated Directors, Research Operations must also be willing to travel as needed.


Ideal candidates will also possess:

  • 3-5 years of strong project management experience
  • Ability to think big picture and strategically while maintaining excellent attention to detail
  • Entrepreneurial approach; excellent decision-making, problem-solving and judgment skills; creative outside of the box thinking.
  • Proactive and action-oriented personality; willingness to ‘roll up your sleeves’ to meet goals
  • Strong interpersonal and people management skills; ability to manage and be managed
  • Experience within the health care or scientific research sector
  • Experience within or working with technology transfer departments
  • Ability to prioritize work at hand and excellent time management skills required
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including presentation experience
  • Excellent computer skills, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint
  • Non-compensated leadership experience (community outreach, committee involvement)
  • An innate sense of pace and urgency as well as the ability to work productively and proactively, both independently and as part of a team, are key
  • Experience and interest in working on a team
  • Flexibility in approach and willingness to adapt when necessary


Interested candidates should submit a resume and thoughtful cover letter. We ask that you do not contact our staff directly and no phone inquiries please. Applicants who best match the position needs will be contacted.  Submissions without cover letters will not be considered.




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