Scientific Director

Health Resources in Action, The Medical Foundation
Boston, MA
We offer an attractive benefits package and generous starting vacation of four weeks.
June 04 2019
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

About Health Resources in Action

Health Resources in Action (HRiA) is a nonprofit organization based in Boston, MA dedicated to promoting public health and advancing medical research. Since its founding in 1957, HRiA has been at the forefront of health, leading the way to promote healthier and more vibrant communities. Our work recognizes the impact of social, economic, and racial factors on health outcomes. Health equity is a core principle that guides the organization’s approach and work.

HRiA’s services are organized into three areas: (1) grantmaking, (2) research and evaluation, and (3) capacity building assistance. HRiA’s grantmaking services include both biomedical research as part of The Medical Foundation (a program of HRiA), and community health grantmaking. This senior level position will oversee HRiA’s biomedical research grantmaking service area. The Medical Foundation (TMF) staff work with private individuals, bank trusts, and family foundations to provide life sciences consulting, program evaluation, and customized grant programs designed to accelerate medical discoveries. Additionally, the organization provides evaluation services designed to optimize the impact of philanthropic investments. In 2018, TMF staff worked with foundations and bank trust departments to develop customized biomedical research grant programs to award approximately $22 million to outstanding investigators across the United States.

HRiA’s grantmaking services include strategic consultation, grant program development, grants administration and disbursement, and evaluation of grant investment to assess impact.

For more information about the organization visit


The Scientific Director is a senior-level, technical position within the organization. They will collaborate with the organization’s grantmaking team to create and maintain the organization’s biomedical research award program services and work to enhance program impact and further diversify and expand the organization’s funding base. They will also cultivate and maintain positive working relationships with current clients, grant applicants/awardees, and scientific reviewers.

The Scientific Director works with the Vice President, Scientific Officer, and other staff to complete life sciences consulting projects including scans of specific research and funding landscapes and completing in-depth data analysis to assess Award Program impact. In developing new grant programs, the Scientific Director designs the scientific focus, eligibility, and size of the awards to maximize the impact of client funds. Furthermore, the Scientific Director must translate complex biomedical research reports into exciting non-technical summaries for clients. 

The Scientific Director provides scientific oversight to 12 grant programs by working with team members through pre-award, application review, and post-award activities. They also work with staff to develop strategies to continually improve the grant administration process. This is a full-time, exempt position.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Scientific Director position consists of four main functions:

Leadership and Management

  • Work with Vice President, Managing Director, and Scientific Officer to shape a vision for the biomedical research grantmaking services portfolio that aligns with that of the organization to implement and assess impact of work.
  • Serve as the technical lead in project planning, implementation, evaluation, and other related administrative responsibilities.
  • Work with biomedical research grantmaking team to identify and implement departmental goals and objectives.
  • Implement best practices to ensure high-quality grantmaking services.
  • Develop ongoing relationships with clients, key stakeholders, and potential funders.
  • Work with and advise grantmaking leadership team on internal and external opportunities and challenges.
  • Participate in New Business Development Team and other organizational committees.
  • Lead, manage, and/or contribute to projects, as needed and/or appropriate.

Program and Project Work

  • Contribute subject matter and/or technical expertise to projects and teams.
  • Provide exceptional client management services to current and potential clients.
  • Manage technical and operational content of multiple grants programs. Responsibilities include updating the research eligibility sections in the application guidelines, identifying new members for the Scientific Review Committees, and translating technical research progress reports into lay language.
  • Collaborate with staff to plan/implement scientific symposia for client grant programs.
  • Develop project management timelines and set priorities to meet program goals and deadlines. Work collaboratively in a team-oriented, fast-paced environment to ensure that all grant programs run effectively.
  • Work with the Scientific Officer in preparing in-depth life sciences consulting reports about the current state of specific fields of research.
  • Conduct program evaluations and prepare reports commissioned by clients.

Business Development

  • Maintain strong relationships with existing clients including foundations and bank trust departments.
  • Identify and secure new clients from the nonprofit sector, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, law firms, and bank trust departments.
  • Write proposals and lead proposal development processes for relevant opportunities and contribute to other writing teams where appropriate.
  • Work with leadership to determine and negotiate scopes of work and contracting with external consultants.
  • Write or contribute to the development of concept papers, scopes of work, contracts, and other mechanisms for securing new business.
  • Work with senior grantmaking staff to develop, manage, and track grant program budgets.

Thought Leadership

  • Work with grantmaking senior leadership to identify and implement a strategic vision for the biomedical grantmaking portfolio.
  • Be a trusted, informed resource for staff, clients, and broader community.
  • Be an active member of relevant grantmaking networks such as Health Research Alliance, PEAK, Philanthropy MA.
  • Submit and/or contribute to publications (e.g. journal manuscripts, practice beliefs, etc.) and/or conference abstracts, presentations, and workshops.
  • Document and share knowledge and best practices to replicate success.
  • Develop and provide content for website, newsletter, and/or other methods of marketing HRiA’s work and impact.

Candidate Qualifications

This role requires a strong commitment to customer service and satisfaction. It also requires the ability to work and collaborate with a broad range of staff and stakeholders. The successful candidate will have the following qualifications:


  • M.D. or Ph.D. in the life sciences with prior research experience and a solid understanding of the fields of basic, clinical, and translational research.
  • A minimum of 15 years of relevant work experience in a position of senior leadership in health-related fields and/or research.
  • Experience in health care delivery and/or bio-medical research and in program strategy development, evaluation, design, and planning.
  • Excellent verbal and written skills; including strong presentation skills and the ability to translate complex technical language to the lay public.
  • Experience in developing, managing, and evaluating biomedical grant programs and grantmaking practices a plus.
  • Knowledge of emerging trends, challenges, and best practices in biomedical research, knowledge of health equity, philanthropy, and public health a plus.
  • Demonstrated experience writing, reviewing, and editing grants, journal manuscripts, practice briefs, and/or conference abstracts and presentations.
  • Experience working with and managing diverse clients and meeting or exceeding their expectations in quality and performance.
  • Demonstrated success in developing, leading, and supervising complex projects and high performing teams.
  • Successful experience in donor cultivation, funder/client relations, and in writing and securing large grants/contracts from a diverse portfolio of funders.
  • Training in basic statistics, survey design, and data analysis is highly desirable.
  • Fluency in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook).

Personal Characteristics

  • Dedication to social justice and a passion for achieving health equity.
  • A commitment to value diversity of thought, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  • Commitment to the advancement of biomedical research through maximizing the impact philanthropic support.
  • Strong analytical and planning skills.
  • Creative thinking and willingness to consider and explore various options for achieving an objective or understanding and resolving a challenge.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including public speaking, active listening, writing, and interpersonal engagement.
  • Strong entrepreneurial skills and the ability to work and think strategically and creatively to cultivate current relationships and to identify and pursue new opportunities to increase impact.
  • Skills to manage, mentor, inspire, and supervise staff.
  • Ability to develop and manage budgets and timelines.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and exhibit resourceful and pragmatic problem solving.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a wide range of people representing various backgrounds, levels of training, and career stages.
  • Ability to work independently, manage multiple responsibilities, and meet deadlines.
  • A healthy sense of humor and the ability to work with grace under pressure.

This description is intended to indicate the kinds of work duties that will be required in this position.  It is not intended to limit, or in any way modify, the rights of any supervisor to assign, direct, and contract work of staff under their supervision. The use of a particular illustration describing duties shall not be held to exclude other duties, not mentioned, that are of a similar level or difficulty.

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