Scientific Program Director

Title:                     Scientific Program Director
Reports to:          Chief Science Officer (CSO)
Location:             Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) office in Washington, DC
Type:                    Full-time
Direct Reports:   One

Position Overview: The Scientific Program Director manages MRA’s grant-making program and serves as lead Scientist in organizing MRA’s Annual Scientific Retreat under the guidance of the Chief Science Officer (CSO). Key activities include development and issuance of annual RFPs, leading the grant review process, negotiating final awards, monitoring and evaluating the research portfolio, development of annual retreat agenda and maintaining relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Additionally, the Scientific Program Director will work with the Communications Director on Scientific communications (reports/research write-ups/patient stories) and in representing MRA at external scientific and policy meetings. Occasionally, the Director will also interface with board members, major donors, and industry partners.

About MRA: The mission of the Melanoma Research Alliance is to end suffering and death due to melanoma by collaborating with all stakeholders to accelerate powerful research, advance cures for all patients, and prevent more melanomas. Annual funding for MRA research awards is approximately $8 to $10 million and, to date, a total of more than $131 million has been awarded to melanoma research programs around the globe, and MRA funding has leveraged an additional $415 million. MRA was launched in 2007 by Debra and Leon Black under the auspices of the Milken Institute, and due to the ongoing support of our founders, 100% of every donation made to MRA goes directly to support melanoma research. 


  • Oversee the grant-making process in partnership with the MRA Science Team and support provided by the Senior Scientific Manager, including development and release of the Request for Proposals, working with the co-chairs and members of the Grant Review Committee (GRC) to implement the review process, and presenting grant funding recommendations to the MRA Board. 
  • Supervise the Senior Scientific Manager in fielding inquiries from applicants, preparation for grant review meetings, oversight of online peer review and grants management system (ProposalCENTRAL), negotiation and issuance of new grant contracts with research institutions, and working with finance to manage payments to awardees.
  • Conduct oversight of funded research, including soliciting and reviewing annual progress reports and leading in-person and virtual site visits to institutions at least once during each project’s full grant term.
  • Coordinate and manage the MRA Annual Scientific Retreat, special workshops, and any other scientific meetings including with FDA, industry, and academia.
  • Supervise Senior Scientific Program & Registry Manager, consultants, and interns as needed.
  • Work in partnership with the MRA Communications Director on development of the Annual Scientific Retreat Report and other reports on MRA funded research to external partners, including co-funding foundations, industry, institutions, and donors. Much of the work will be done through external vendors and consultants, but led by Scientific Director in partnership with the Communications Director.
  • Lead a major ‘impact assessment’ evaluation of grantees progress and broader impact on the melanoma field at least once every three years.
  • Partner with CSO and development staff to secure industry support for the MRA Annual Scientific Retreat and other MRA-led scientific programs. 
  • Serve as liaison with foundations to garner and manage research co-funding partnerships.
  • Work with development and communication staff to maximize awareness of MRA’s scientific programs and provide scientific insight to support their activities.
  • Contribute to internal and external communications about melanoma research, including MRA’s research portfolio and other melanoma-related information requests for the team.
  • Contribute to public policy activities, including maintaining relationships with coalitions and coordinating participation in advocacy activities.
  • Represent MRA at external meetings and relevant professional activities. 
  • Maintain relationships with key constituents including MRA Board of Directors and experts involved in the Grant Review Committee, Scientific Advisory Panel and Medical Advisory Panel.
  • And other duties as assigned.


  • Graduate degree required (MS, MPH, PhD) – PhD with experience related to immunology preferred.
  • Minimum five to ten years of experience in program management for a private/corporate foundation, public charity, government organization, academic institution, or corporation.
  • A proven history and/or commitment to efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • High intellectual capacity that can be, and has been applied to learning new areas of science, policy, and related fields.
  • Demonstrated self-starter with excellent project management skills, including project design, timely execution, and effective budget management.
  • Outstanding people management skills working with a broad range of internal and external constituents.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills that take into account the audience and equally effective listening abilities.
  • Desire to be part of an evolving organization and to contribute to its growth and reputation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with scientists in a staff role and to work as an integral part of a growing, multi-talented team.
  • Ability to be flexible, to maintain a good sense of humor, and to keep a global perspective.
  • Ability to travel, including ~20% overnight travel.
  • Successfully complete a security background check.

To apply for a position at MRA, please submit a resume AND cover letter to with the name of the position being applied for referenced in the subject line. Please note – the employment email at MRA is only checked daily when a current opening is posted on the MRA website.