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Director, Research Portfolio

Job Details

Fully Remote

MDA Overview:

At MDA, we believe our biggest asset is our combination of different backgrounds, cultures, and disciplines united to form one high-performing team.  What we do starts with our people and the neuromuscular disease community we serve.  As America’s largest voluntary health organization covering research, healthcare, and advocacy for people with neuromuscular diseases, MDA is leading the way in improving the quality of life for those living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, spinal muscular atrophy, and dozens of related disorders – many first discovered and diagnosed by MDA supported scientists and clinicians.

Department Overview:

The Research Department’s mission is to support progress in therapy, care, and education for neuromuscular disorders through 1) direct funding of research grants, investments, and internal projects; 2) support of professional education and dissemination of information through the annual conference and other meetings; and 3) and through the application of the MOVR clinical data hub to advancing clinical care and increasing the efficiency of drug development. As part of a team of high- performing subject matter experts, each team member is responsible for leveraging knowledge in the above areas and meeting clear annual goals. Each of the units within the Research department will have ultimate accountability for aligning internally and externally to meet strategic objectives that support the department mission.

Position Description:

The Director, Research Portfolio (neuro-specific expertise) is an experienced professional with the ability to work for a dynamic, fast-paced organization. The Director, Research Portfolio will help manage a portfolio of mechanistic and translational research awards in neuromuscular disease areas including motor neuron diseases, inflammatory myopathies, peripheral neuropathies, neuromuscular junction and ion channel disorders.

This person will identify and address key research needs while helping manage the grant review process and ongoing grant evaluations.

Furthermore, this role will help identify high impact research and scientific opportunities in neuromuscular diseases by attending relevant conferences and maintaining a working relationship with key opinion leaders in the field... This role works closely with the Grant Managers, as well as MDAs Advocacy, Health Care, Education and MOVR teams to further leverage MDAs clinical and research programs and infrastructure to accelerate therapy development for neuromuscular diseases. The Director, Research Portfolio reports directly to the Vice President, Research.


What you’ll do:

  • Management of Grant Programs
    • Provide specialized scientific expertise to MDA in a particular portfolio of diseases.
    • Help develop and direct a robust and diverse portfolio of grants that align with MDAs strategic research priorities.
    • Provide continued analysis of grant portfolios and assist VP of Research in providing guidance toward achieving MDAs strategic research efforts.
    • Interact with the neuromuscular community to assess research needs and opportunities.
    • Serve as a disease expert in identifying appropriate scientific reviewers for all grant applications, recommending grants which may be the most impactful for achieving MDA’s mission.
    • Help prepare grant summaries and portfolio analysis at the request of the Vice President, Research and/or Chief Research Officer. Provide guidance to grantees and grant applicants around scientific grant issues, and work with the Research team on establishing and revising grant policies and procedures.
    • Track grantees scientific progress, publications, and patent/licensing activity.
    • Help organize, attend, and participate in all grant review meetings for MDAs research grant programs.


  • Provide Scientific Guidance for MDA
    • Help provide content for research news updates for dissemination through online and social media channels to keep the community informed of ongoing research and drug development and allow for MDA’s impact to be fully promoted.
    • Provide scientific guidance and review for all disease-specific and research-oriented print and webpage content.
    • Provide scientific guidance and participate in collaborative advocacy efforts between MDA and other patient-advocacy organizations.
    • Help address scientific, research, and disease-specific questions that come in through the Resource Center.
    • Develop or participate in MDA webinars as appropriate, to convey the scientific/medical background or importance of MDAs efforts.
    • Supporting MDA's venture philanthropy (MVP) efforts: Evaluation of proposals and funding requests from pharma and biotech companies
    • Supporting or participating in the MVP Review Committee to identify commercially viable therapy (drug or device) with high potential and a return on investment.


  • Scientific Engagement with External Stakeholders
    • Key role in planning content and managing speakers for Annual Conference.
    • Help plan and manage additional scientific symposia as needed throughout the year.
    • Attend and represent MDA at national and international neuromuscular scientific meetings.
    • Participate in external committees/advisory boards to provide MDAs perspective to the wider community.
    • Present research updates to the community at MDA sponsored meetings, as well as external meetings.
    • Execute and coordinate MDA’s summer internship program targeted at increasing diversity in the neuromuscular disease field in collaboration with participating research institutes.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


Salary Range: This position's salary range is $110,000 - $120,000. Final offer amounts and levels are determined by multiple factors, including your experience, and may vary from the amounts listed above.


What we are looking for:

  • Doctoral Degree (with focus in neuromuscular diseases or related basic, translational or drug development science) in neuromuscular disease research or health care fields required.
  • 6 years of relevant experience required in neuro-specific disease area
  • Ability to think broadly across scientific disciplines.
  • Highly collaborative and strong consensus builder.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to represent MDA within the neuromuscular scientific community including at national and international scientific meetings and with other stakeholders including families we serve.
  • Comfort with public speaking and demonstrated ability to communicate complex scientific concepts to a wide array of audiences.
  • Knowledge of regulatory practices as they pertain to therapeutic development and industry a plus
  • Excellent project management skills.
  • Motivated by mission-driven organization whose aim is ultimately to save lives.

MDA is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

MDA Benefits:

*For full-time employees

  • Medical, Dental and Vision insurance with prescription coverage
  • Health Savings Account with contribution matching and Flexible Spending Accounts for medical and/or dependent care
  • Paid sick leave
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • 100% contribution towards basic life insurance, short-term and long-term disability
  • Optional additional life insurance and dependent life insurance available
  • 403(b) Retirement Savings Plan with company match
  • Generous paid time off policy, with increasing accrual rate schedule
  • 16 paid holidays
  • Standard 35-hour work week with flexible hours
  • Remote, work-from-home opportunities
  • Professional Learning and Development opportunities, including Leadership skills 
  • Company-sponsored Wellness Program