Director of Research (Durham, NC) – LIFE SCIENCES – REF.: 2884

Director of Research (Durham, NC) – LIFE SCIENCES – REF.: 2884

Job Description

Arris Partners has been retained to seek a passionate and entrepreneurial scientist to head the research programs of a growing cancer research and patient support organization.



The story of the Chordoma Foundation is one of patients and families coming together to accomplish the improbable. It is one of determination, and resourcefulness, and the power of perseverance. And after nearly 10 years, it is a story of uncommon progress.

Started by patients unwilling to accept the limited treatment options for this rare bone cancer, the Chordoma Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by chordoma and leading the search for a cure. To do so, the Foundation proactively initiates and supports research across the entire treatment development continuum, while working to eliminate barriers and create efficiencies to speed the pace of progress.

Since 2007, when virtually nothing was known about the disease, the Foundation has built a vibrant research community, developed centralized repositories of tumor and preclinical models, and supported over 100 research projects in labs across the world. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in the understanding of chordoma biology, discovery of a number of therapeutic targets, and identification of promising treatments that show activity in preclinical models. Based on these findings, the Foundation is working with over a dozen companies to repurpose existing therapies or develop new therapies for chordoma. The result is a growing pipeline of clinical trials, including six that will be open by 2017, and a goal of ten by 2020.

The Foundation’s success in catalyzing research has been repeatedly recognized by FasterCures, The National Cancer Institute, ABC News, BioCentury and The Atlantic, to name a few. And, its Executive Director, Josh Sommer, was twice named by Forbes as one of the “30 under 30” transforming the field of science and healthcare.

To date, the Foundation has invested nearly $5M in research and has leveraged well over $20M in outside funding. Over the next three years, the Foundation plans to double its annual investment in research from $1.5 to $3M and is now expanding its team to realize that growth.



The Chordoma Foundation is currently seeking a scientist who wants to:

  • Drive forward research with the singular goal of bringing better treatments to patients with an urgent unmet need
  • Manage and orchestrate a diverse portfolio of research projects with collaborators across the world
  • Be a part of setting an example for increasing the speed, efficiency and patient-centricity of biomedical research
  • Have an opportunity to make a mark on a rapidly progressing field, and a tangible difference in the lives of patients


If this sounds thrilling, then read on because this job could be for you.



As Director of Research you will work with the Foundation’s Executive Director and Scientific Advisory Board to define the Foundation’s research priorities, and will be responsible for managing all of the Foundation’s research investments and programs to address those priorities. You will also play a leadership role within the chordoma research community, helping to orchestrate and catalyze research by the Foundation’s many partners and collaborators.


Location: Durham, NC (preferred) or Boston, MA

Reports to: Executive Director

Peers: Director of Development, Director of Finance and Administration

Subordinates: Research Manager



  • Work with Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to identify new research priorities and periodically update the Foundation’s Research Roadmap
  • Develop and lead implementation of plans to address priorities identified by the SAB
  • Manage the Foundation’s grants portfolio, including project sourcing, peer review, contract negotiation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Initiate and manage partnerships with academic labs and industry collaborators to achieve key research goals
  • Direct research through contract labs to achieve key research goals and support collaborators (e.g. genomic analysis and preclinical drug screening)
  • Ensure dissemination of data generated through the Foundation’s research, including through public data repositories and publications
  • Oversee and provide scientific direction for the Foundation’s repositories of biospecimens, cell lines and mouse models
  • Collaborate with the Development team to secure funding for research programs and projects by assisting with major donor cultivation, grant writing, proposals, and progress reports for funders
  • Collaborate with the Patient Services and Marketing teams to promote patient participation in research, including tissue donation and clinical trials
  • Develop annual research plans and budget consistent with the Research Roadmap
  • Oversee biennial International Chordoma Research Workshops




  • Doctoral degree (PhD) in cellular or molecular biology, cancer biology, chemical biology, or closely related area of study



  • At least five years of post-doctoral research and/or development experience, preferably in oncology
  • A combination of experience in academic, government, foundation and/or commercial research is ideal
  • A track record of initiating, negotiating and managing partnerships with academic and/or industry collaborators
  • Experience leading a team at the project or program level or higher


Skills and Qualities

  • Strong project management and organizational skills, with the ability to manage multiple projects in parallel
  • Excellent relationship management skills, with the ability to build and maintain effective partnerships and earn the trust and cooperation of researchers
  • Working knowledge of preclinical and translational cancer research
  • Outstanding ability to communicate scientific concepts verbally and in writing for a variety of audiences, including fellow scientists, funders and the lay public
  • An entrepreneurial approach and an ability to conceive of and implement solutions to problems
  • High emotional intelligence and ethical standards
  • Ability to travel up to 20% of the time


The preference is for this to be a full time position; however, well qualified candidates who prefer part time employment will be considered.

As a professional search firm, we will only be responding to those inquiries that most closely align with the stated requirements. Moreover, our client employer can only review candidates with valid US work authorization at this time.

Arris Partners actively recruits and refers applicants for all jobs without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.