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Director, Scientific Programs

Melanoma Research Alliance
District of Columbia, United States
$120,000.00 - $140,000.00
Closing date
Jun 11, 2024

MRA seeks a Director of Scientific Programs who can bring strategy, innovation, and a detail oriented approach to lead our global grants program. The Director of Scientific Programs oversees all aspects of MRA’s research grants programs including development of request for proposals (RFP), overseeing the peer-review process, award contracting, milestone management and close- out. This role keeps abreast of scientific advances, gaps, and opportunities, and works with science staff and advisors to guide funding to areas of unmet scientific and patient needs. This role provides scientific support to the internal teams and external advisors including MRA’s Board Science Committee, Scientific Advisory Panel, Medical Advisory Panel, Dermatology Council, and Grant Review Committee.

Partnering closely with MRA’s Chief Science Officer, the Director of Scientific Programs serves as the lead scientist in the planning, development, and curation of MRA’s Annual Scientific Retreat as well as MRA-convened workshops and forums. The Director of Scientific Programs also represents MRA in a leadership position at scientific conferences and symposia.

The Director of Scientific Programs is committed to staying updated on scientific advances and challenges along with building positive relationships with the research community. This role will be responsible for internal and external communication of scientific progress, as well as supporting donor stewardship across major individual donors, foundations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry partners as well as collaborations with government entities.

The Director of Scientific Programs provides leadership, mentoring and oversight to two (2) direct reports (Senior Associate, Registry & Grants programs; and Senior Associate, Grants & Operations).

What you’ll do:

MRA Grants Program:

  • Oversee the grant-making process including development and release of Request(s) for Proposals, working with the co-chairs and members of the Grant Review Committee (GRC) to implement the peer review process, and presenting grant funding recommendations to the MRA Board and Board Science Committee.
  • Conduct oversight of funded grants, including soliciting and reviewing annual progress reports, financial reports (first reviewed by Senior Associate), and leading in-person and virtual site visits to funded institutions.
  • Support MRA Leadership with operational and budgetary planning around the grants program and annual audit of the grants processes and procedures.
  • Annually update the MRA Research Portfolio and every 2-3 years conduct an evaluation of the impact of MRA funding.
  • Supervise the Senior Associate, Registry & Grants Program in fielding inquiries from applicants, preparation for grant review meetings, oversight of online peer review and grants management system (ProposalCENTRAL), and issuance of new grant contracts with research institutions.
  • Supervise the Senior Associate, Grants & Operations in issuance of payments to awardees through; trouble shooting and problem-solving as needed.

Annual Scientific Retreat:

  • In close collaboration with the Chief Science Officer, lead MRA’s Annual Scientific Retreat programming content, speaker and panelist selection and preparation, special workshops.
  • Secure pharmaceutical industry sponsorship underwriting for the Scientific Retreat, in partnership with MRA Leadership and Development team.
  • Lead the development of Scientific Retreat Report in partnership with freelance science writers and external vendors.
  • Manage event logistics required for a successful event in partnership with the MRA staff, vendors, and consultants. 


  • In partnership with MRA’s Communications & Engagement team, along with retained consultants and vendors, assist in the development of science content for MRA audiences including monthly blogs, eNewsletters, Scientific Retreat Report, MRA’s Annual Report, and other reports on MRA funded research to external partners, including co-funding foundations, industry, institutions, and donors.
  • Drive internal and external communications about melanoma research, including MRA’s research portfolio and other melanoma-related information requests from the MRA team.
  • Contribute to public policy activities, including maintaining relationships with coalitions and coordinating participation in advocacy activities.

Internal and external representation:

  • Represent MRA to pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry partners at key scientific conferences (e.g., ASCO, AACR, Society for Melanoma Research, etc.).
  • Serve as liaison with foundations to identify, develop, secure, and manage research cofunding partnerships.
  • Represent MRA at external meetings and relevant professional activities at nonprofit associations including the Health Research Alliance (HRA) and International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP).
  • Maintain relationships with key constituents including MRA Board of Directors and experts involved in the Grant Review Committee, Scientific Advisory Panel, Medical Advisory Panel, and Dermatology Council.

Staff management and cross-team collaboration within MRA:

  • Mentor, inspire, and supervise direct reports including the Senior Associate, Registry & Grants Program and the Senior Associate, Grants & Operations.
  • Supervise consultants, interns, and vendors as needed.
  • Work with the MRA Development team and Communications team to maximize awareness of MRA’s scientific programs and provide scientific insight to support their activities.

What you bring:

  • Graduate degree required (MS, MPH, PhD) – PhD preferred; experience related to cancer biology, immunology, or related field is ideal.
  • Minimum five to ten years of experience in scientific program management; demonstrated ability to produce high-quality scientific work products. Ideally, scientific administration experience with a nonprofit organization, public charity, government organization, academic institution, or corporation is preferred.
  • Ability to demonstrate initiative and independence to identify short and long-term portfolio needs with input from leadership, peers, and external advisors.
  • Ability to synthesize large amount of information related to projects and portfolios managed and provide a scientific point of view to diverse audiences.
  • Demonstrated self-starter with excellent project management skills, including project design, timely execution, and effective budget management.
  • Experience functioning as a strategist and partnering with senior leadership, board members and others.
  • Ability to create and drive strategy while being a hands-on implementor. 
  • Accustomed to working, problem solving and collaborating thoughtfully in a dynamic environment. 
  • Experience in external relationship management including donor stewardship and partner management.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of or experience with grant administration, CRM, and payment systems (ProposalCentral, Salesforce,
  • Experience managing and proven success in leading, mentoring and motivating a high performing team.
  • Ability to travel, including ~20% overnight travel.
  • Successfully complete a security background check


What we offer:

  • MRA is committed to practicing salary transparency. The salary range for this role is $120,000 to $140,000. We construct our salaries in such a way that staff can move through the range within their position level. As such, most candidates will start at $120,000 to $130,000, with flexibility for a possible few outstanding candidates based on the above required specific skill sets and experiences. This position is also eligible for performance-related bonuses.
  • Comprehensive medical, dental & vision benefits including an employee assistance program to help with mental health, financial and legal matters for all employees and their eligible dependents.
  • A 403b retirement investment plan with a 5% match.
  • Life & Disability insurance (Basic, voluntary and AD&D, short-term and long-term). 
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (health, dependent coverage, transit/commuters FSAs). 
  • Generous and flexible schedule of paid time off in addition to the paid holidays we observe.
  • Paid parental/family leave.
  • An investment in everyone’s professional development including learning cloud programs, scientific retreats and forums, networking opportunities, lunch and learns, conferences, leadership mentoring with access to top minds in science, research, medicine, and business.

The fine print:

  • This position is based in Washington, DC (preferred, or possibly New York City). While performing the duties of this role, you would work in a hybrid, in-office (at least two days a week) and remote arrangement.
  • Some travel is required for this role including MRA events, site visits, and conferences.
  • Successful candidates will be subject to an authorized background check.
  • We are interested in qualified candidates who are eligible to work in the United States. Please note, we are not sponsoring visas at this time, being authorized to work in the U.S. is a precondition of employment.

The statements herein are intended to describe the overall nature and level of work being performed by employees and are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. Furthermore, they do not establish a contract for employment and are subject to change at the discretion of the employer.

How to apply: Please send a cover letter and resume to with the following subject line: Director, Scientific Program Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. No phone calls please. All inquiries will be held in confidence.

What you can expect if you move forward in the recruitment process:

  1. Initial interview with MRA’s Chief Science Officer (45 minutes).
  2. If you are selected for the next round, an interview with MRA’s Chief Executive Officer; President & Chief Operating Officer; Senior Associate, Registry & Grants Program; and Senior Associate, Grants & Operations.
  3. Reference check and background check.
  4. Offer.

Our culture and commitments:

Every person at MRA is treated with respect, supported with resources and training, and exposed to a broad range of experiences. We foster a space for growth with opportunities to share knowledge and passion with colleagues and the scientific and patient communities we serve. We are committed to building a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. Our leadership is actively involved in our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and fostering a culture that creates opportunities for everyone.

MRA upholds an equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, age, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, genetic information, or any other basis protected by applicable law. This policy applies to all applicants, employees, consultants, and third-party workers.

To request a disability accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, please contact us at

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