Assistant Director, Aging Brain Initiative

Cambridge, Massachusetts (US)
February 28 2018
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

The Aging Brain Initiative, led by Picower Institute Director Li-Huei Tsai, is an MIT–wide effort to understand dementia—why it begins and progresses and how we can stop it.  This effort distinguishes itself by focusing on Alzheimer’s disease as a whole-systems failure, and not the result of a single flawed component.  The initiative is looking at the interactions of brain circuits with whole systems throughout the brain.  MIT’s strength in computer science and engineering as well as in bioscience and neuroscience will be brought to bear on this critical contemporary human problem.

The Assistant Director will work with the Director and founding members to build this Initiative into a world-class enterprise.   Specifically, s/he will assist the Director in developing its vision, strategy, operations, communications, outreach, and fundraising activities. 

Strategic Planning and Operations

  • To collaborate with the director to develop and shepherd the vision of the Initiative: support Principal Investigators’ (PIs) processes in defining and developing the scientific, educational and translational vision for the Initiative, and implementation in collaboration with the Director and Initiative PIs. 
  • Direct and implement effective strategic planning efforts for resource allocation, operational structures, and procedures to accomplish the research goals established by the Director.  Work with PIs on individual research programs as well as Initiative-wide activities. Facilitate research collaborations among PIs.
  • Monitor and evaluate Aging Brain Initiative processes. Oversee and produce timely deliverables and accurate data reporting on progress and new strategic directions.
  • Prepare reports, presentations, outreach documents, grants and fundraising proposals for distribution to donors, foundations, scientists, and others. Coordinate communication efforts.
  • Organize internal and external scientific meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events, and supervise their execution.  Help set agendas for effective internal team meetings and then follow-up on action items to insure execution.
  • Partner with the Director of Development to identify strategic fundraising priorities and secure funding.
  • Monitor finances: help oversee and track budget projections with the Director; provide day-to-day financial reporting mechanisms in coordination with the Picower Institute Headquarters staff.
  • Perform other responsibilities as necessitated by the position or as assigned by the Director.


The individual will work directly for the Director of the Picower Institute and closely with staff in the Dean’s Office and other offices tasked with oversight of key activities.


Work will be done in close collaboration with the Picower Institute’s Headquarters.   At MIT, s/he will work closely with the Dean’s Office, staff in affiliated Labs and Initiatives, and other administrators in similar positions at the Institute as well as with the faculty founders and collaborators, scientists and students that are part of the Aging Brain Initiative.  Outside of MIT, s/he will work closely with donors, vendors, funding agencies (federal and private), and counterparts at other organizations.



Ph.D. in neuroscience or, a related field with a background in neurodegenerative disease research, with substantial direct experience working in the life sciences, clinical research, or industry setting or management.  Candidates with a Ph.D. in computer science or electrical engineering will also be considered.



  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in an academic or research environment with oversight of strategic planning and the successful launch of a similar type of research endeavor.  
  • Entrepreneurial approach with strong project management skills and a demonstrated ability to effectively keep teams, projects and deliverables on track and to evaluate plans and methods, revising as appropriate.
  • Personal initiative and the commitment to contributing to the progress of science research by facilitating the work of others.
  • Ability to think strategically, set priorities, exert influence, negotiate, work across boundaries, and deliver results.  
  • Superb written and verbal communication and presentation skills.
  • Strong ability to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • Interpersonal skills that promote collaboration and cooperation among teams.
  • A collaborative leadership style, not an autocrat.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Must be able to coordinate multiple tasks, set priorities and meet deadlines.
  • Experience working in an academic environment strongly preferred, including knowledge of typical university governance, policies and practices.

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