Head of South Africa Liaison Office

Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership
Pediatric HIV & HCV Programmes

Cape Town, South Africa
[Closing date: March 20, 2017]


The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), established in 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, is a collaborative, patient-needs driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that seeks to improve the quality of life and the health of people suffering from neglected diseases by using an alternative model to develop drugs for these diseases and by ensuring equitable access to new and field-relevant health tools.

DNDi is now working across 9 offices (Geneva, Rio, Kinshasa, Nairobi, New Delhi and Patna (India), Kuala-Lumpur (Malaysia), New York and Tokyo) employing ~200 full time equivalent core staff and operating through a virtual business model with many partners, suppliers and consultants. As part of its mission, DNDi advocates for increased public responsibility and a more enabling environment for neglected disease R&D at a global, regional and national level.

Given the recent appeal and positive responses from a variety of partners in South Africa, DNDi decide to open this key position to foster and harness the opportunities of impact and changes for neglected patients in this part of Africa.

Since 2014, DNDi has initiated activities in South Africa mainly with its currently ongoing Paediatric HIV programme and an HCV programme for which clinical studies will begin in 2017. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2014 with the South African Department of Health for the Paediatric HIV programme 

More recently, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative have collaborated on the creation of a Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, to develop new antibiotic treatments addressing antimicrobial resistance DNDi has agreed to facilitate the set up and hosting of the partnership and provide the scientific environment, necessary personnel and infrastructure to ensure an effective incubation period. GARDP as such is part of the DNDi institutional framework for the incubation period.

GARDP has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 with the South African Medical Research Council to establish the basis for close collaboration both institutionally and on specific projects including on drug development for neonates, sexually transmitted diseases, and drug discovery. GARDP also will be launching two projects in 2017 and two additional projects in 2018, with drug discovery and substantial clinical activity in South Africa.

DNDi, and in particular the GARDP program as well as the HIV HC program, aim to strengthen our presence in South Africa, by establishing a Liaison office, hosted initially within the South African Medical Research Council, to support the R&D activities, manage the relationships with academia, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies.


The Position

Regional development

The Head of office plays a key role in securing and establishing the presence and profile of DNDi and GARDP in South Africa and facilitates the effective set up and execution of the projects with a range of key stakeholders in the country and the region by:

  • Setting up an appropriate legal presence and build a team in South Africa.
  • Closely liaising and building an effective modus operandi with the SAMRC and the DoH for the projects.
  • Identifying, building, and maintaining a network of key stakeholders in the region to both build and execute projects but also to identify new areas of research.
  • To oversee Policy and Advocacy: to identify potential of medical and scientific advocacy, potential policy changes focusing on patients’ needs and new funding mechanisms in this part of the world.


Key Objectives

Support to R&D projects in the region

  • Support specific projects including drug development for antimicrobial resistance such as Neonatal Sepsis, STI, and also paediatric HIV (HIV-TB super boosting study and LIVING study), and HCV (HCV genotype 5) programmes for:
    • The launch of clinical studies
    • Registration and post-registration access
  • Working with key partners in drug discovery to build on our R&D efforts.
  • Liaising with institutional partners in South Africa and the region to ensure agreed upon action items are completed, maintain trust and secure initial terms of collaboration.
  • Building on initial lessons learned and provide support to the future of our programmes in the region in close coordination with the R&D leadership.

Regional development

  • Map and scope opportunities and networks that will be relevant for our future mission in the region.
  • Profiling and positioning DNDi / GARDP as trusted R&D and health partners and foster relationships with public and private actors in the field of R&D and public health in the region.
  • Develop and implement strategies for resource development in the region that combine public investments in R&D, private contributions, and sustainable access.
  • To drive the regional institutional development and our external relations and represent DNDi and GARDP s at regional level (Southern Africa) and to lead regional stakeholders’ engagement.
  • Support DNDi global policy advocacy and engage regional stakeholders accordingly.
  • Work closely with DNDi East Africa regional office based in Nairobi and DNDi DRC Liaison office where relevant to identify opportunities for Africa-wide advocacy and develop scientific networks in the region Office management and institutional accountability.
  • Prepare the annual action plan, budget and risk review for the office.
  • Propose a mid-term regional strategy aligned with the DNDi and GARDP Business Plans, encompassing current priorities and setting the stage for the future (identification of patient needs; proposing issues for policy debates/initiatives relevant to AMR R&D and sustainable access in the region, HIV and HCV, fundraising opportunities, etc.)
  • Set up and ensure organizational development accordingly (including recruitment in the short term of Administrative & finance officer to support office launch and operations). Set up and supervise human resources, administrative and finance activities. Ensure office management and be accountable for the performance of DNDi and GARDP. Ensure consistency between vision and local operating model.
  • Organize the legal presence of DNDi and GARDP as appropriate.
  • Guarantee compliance of the activities of DNDi and GARDP with legal obligations in relevant jurisdiction where the office is operating. Ensure implementation of DNDi ethical standards and values within team and with partners. Ensure adherence to DNDi policies and relevant processes; develop and maintain policies and key procedures as appropriate.
  • Ensure alignment with other transversal areas and functions of DNDi at the global level.


Reporting and working relationships

Main interactions:

The Head of the South Africa Liaison Office reports institutionally to the Director of International Development and Coordination DNDi for the setup of the office. The position also reports functionally to the Director of GARDP and the Head of HIV/HCV Programme.  S/he liaises and works closely with the SAMRC, and has the following internal and external collaborations:


  • Ongoing interactions with colleagues from GARDP, DNDi R&D teams, External affairs, Operations, as well as with DNDi Africa and the DRC Liaison Office colleagues.
  • Is part of the global Leadership team of DNDi


  • SAMRC (GARDP partner)
  • South African National Department of Health (partner on pediatric HIV)
  • South African Medicines Control Council
  • South African Department of Science and Technology
  • Network of key hospitals and specialists
  • Government officials and institutional partners in the region
  • Civil Society and NGOs
  • National and regional project partners: Hospitals, academic centers, drug development organizations



  • Advanced degree, preferably a medical doctor (ideally combining science, public health and management)
  • At least 15 years’ experience in relevant fields and international exposure
  • Experience in global health (ideally infectious diseases)
  • Understanding of drug development activities
  • Significant experience and connections in South Africa and the region
  • Gravitas/credibility/authority
  • Result oriented, self-starter and doer
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Team player and open minded. Collaborative working style, creative and highly motivated
  • Flexibility for travelling in the region or international
  • Fluency in English. Mastering regional languages is a plus

The position is based in Cape Town, South Africa, at the premises of the South African Medical Research Council and will require regular national and international travel. In the current absence of legal entity, consultancy contract will be adopted.


To apply

  • Open until March 20, 2017.
  • As an exclusive partner, ODGERS BERNDTSON has been tasked to undertake the recruitment for this position. We thank you for sending your application to Mr Norman Nashed at: Norman.Nashed@odgersberndtson.com.
    For further information please call +41 43 344 31 31. www.odgersberndtson.com