R&D Director

Geneva, Switzerland
[Closing date: 25 February


Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that is developing new treatments for neglected diseases (www.dndi.org).

DNDi focuses on discovering and developing treatments for sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, filarial infections, paediatric HIV, mycetoma, and hepatitis C. Since its inception, DNDi has developed seven new treatments for neglected patients for malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, paediatric HIV with several new drug candidates in the R&D pipeline including two for sleeping sickness. Our objective is to deliver 16 to 18 new treatments by 2023, ensure equitable access to these treatments, and build a robust pipeline of new drug candidates.

In 2016, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, DNDi launched the Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP), a not-for-profit research and development organization to develop new antibiotic treatments addressing antimicrobial resistance and to promote their responsible use for optimal conservation, while ensuring equitable access for all. DNDi is responsible for GARDP’s incubation until it is an established and independent legal and operational entity (objective for 2019). Going forward, a strong strategic alignment will be critical for the success of both organizations.

The R&D Director has oversight of the R&D Transversal department in DNDi which bring together under one leadership the Discovery, Translation, Pharmaceutical Development, Medical Affairs (Pharmacovigilance, Quality and Regulatory), and Dynamic Portfolio units. The R&D Transversal department is the R&D backbone of DNDi, numbering over 30 employees, and leading Discovery and early stage Development. It also supports the work of DNDi’s Disease Initiatives focused on clinical development and product registration of drugs. R&D Transversal staff are located in Geneva with some working in offices located in Africa, Asia and South America.


Purpose of the position

The R&D Director is responsible for directing and overseeing all discovery and development projects in the DNDi portfolio. S/he provides leadership of the transverse R&D functions and is responsible for scientific coherence across the Disease Initiatives (NTD, HIV/HCV). The Director manages the Transversal R&D function. S/he oversees all portfolio activities, and fosters scientific innovation. S/he assess new opportunities through DNDi’s Dynamic Portfolio function. The R&D Director (in collaboration with senior scientific leaders) focuses primarily on strategy and on initiating, fostering, maintaining external relationships, and partnerships with a host of different relevant organizations. S/he also plays a role in mentoring and developing R&D staff, in resource allocation, and R&D decision making. Together with the R&D GARDP, s/he ensures the R&D collaboration and scientific quality/standards alignment of both organizations.


Specific job responsibilities

Oversight of DNDi‘s scientific activities, and coordination of the Scientific Advisory Committee

  • Responsible for providing strategic input for DNDi’s mid- and long-term goals from the scientific standpoint
  • Provides members of senior staff with continuous scientific input in their various specialization areas
  • Maintains the highest quality of scientific foundations of DNDi’s drug discovery & development process
  • Keeps informed on the state-of-the-art of drug discovery and drug development and innovations in the field
  • Through building a panel of exploratory activities, ensures that there is a flow of appropriate and quality projects in the pipeline
  • Leads consultations between Initiatives on common resources sharing and gap filling (i.e. staffing)
  • Ensures the internal and external scientific review processes of each funded R&D project by the Scientific Review Committee (internally) and the Scientific Advisory committee (externally)
  • Ensures scientific coherence through Committee mechanism between GARDP and DNDi, together with the R&D Director of GARDP
  • Organizes and ensures the quality of the documentation to be presented to the Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Responsible for conducting of successful SAC meetings that include reviews of portfolios, disease strategies, and target product profiles for each target disease
  • Works closely with the Chairperson of the SAC to ensure productive interactions between the SAC and the R&D team
  • Follows up on requests or amendments to projects and strategies as recommended by the SAC (before presentation to the Board)
  • Member of the GARDP SAC to maintain strong links

Oversight of the R&D Transversal function

  • Provides leadership of the transverse R&D functions (Dynamic Portfolio Unit (DPU), Discovery, Translational, Pharmaceutical Development, Medical Affairs) and supervises the senior team comprised of two Directors (Medical and Discovery), three Heads (Translational, Pharmaceutical Development, and DPU)
  • Oversees R&D Transversal budget and allocation of resources in the R&D Transversal team
  • Recruits, motivates, organizes training, and manages DNDi’s R&D Transversal team
  • Defines needs with GARDP R&D Director and supervises the transversal R&D support provided to GARDP

Responsible, together with the BD Director and other Senior Leaders, for DNDi portfolio development

  • Explores and assesses R&D partnership opportunities, including pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations
  • Collaborates with the Business Development Director and consultants on BD opportunities to ensure a rigorous scientific approach
  • Works with regional offices to identify, evaluate, and establish new relationships with potential partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and CROs/CMOs sectors
  • Keeps in close contact with the academic and pharma/biotech sectors and through this be well informed of current development in R&D, especially in neglected diseases

Representation, communication, and fundraising responsibilities

  • Provides relevant information to support corporate communication, advocacy campaigns, and fundraising
  • Provides adapted content for grant applications and reporting to donors/funders
  • Plays a key role in fundraising and advocacy initiatives requiring scientific and technical expertise
  • Represents DNDi at major international meetings and high level conferences and is asked to give presentations; is a spokesperson for DNDi; seeks partnership with academic institutions, and with other pharmaceutical companies and health authorities
  • S/he represents DNDi at the highest level and interacts with governing bodies, major donors, and other leaders of influence. S/he creates networks and relationships to expand programme interaction and bring resources or expertise


Job requirements

Skills and attributes

  • Excellent ability to use initiative, prioritize, multi-task, and work well under pressure to meet deadlines
  • Very clear and systematic thinking that demonstrates strong judgment and problem-solving competencies
  • Excellent communication skills in multicultural, multi-lingual environments
  • Excellent communication, and public speaking skills, ability to convince and represent DNDi at high level events
  • Knowledge of managing global multicultural teams and expert ability to lead and motivate a team for optimum performance
  • Highly organized and structured
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Excellent ability to lead large strategic programmes
  • Proven ability to manage organization wide programmes with budget management
  • Excellent strategic thinking and leadership abilities
  • Excellent ability to exercise high degree of independence to ensure programme delivery and explore new areas of activities
  • Proven ability to interact with internal and external stakeholders and strong management, negotiation, and advocacy skills

R&D technical skills

  • Excellent knowledge of Drug Discovery/Development
  • Comprehensive knowledge of Clinical Research/Development
  • Strong knowledge of Regulatory (GCP, GLP, and GMP)
  • In depth knowledge of diseases/academia
  • Strong technical writing skills (procedures, protocols, and reports)


  • Minimum 17 years’ relevant experience at senior management level and 20 years of management experience in public health or pharmaceutical industry
  • Proven ability to work effectively in a team environment and matrix structure is critical
  • Experience building and leading teams
  • Proven track record in resource mobilization / business development


  • Postgraduate studies in life sciences, pharmacology, or equivalent
  • Executive management training or managerial certification
  • MD or PhD in public health or related fields is an asset

Other requirements

  • Fluency in English
  • Proficiency in local languages desirable
  • Willingness and ability to travel globally


Reporting line

  • The R&D Director reports to the Executive Director of DNDi
  • S/he is the direct manager of the Dynamic Portfolio Scientific Head, the Discovery Director, the Head of Translation Sciences, the Pharmaceutical Development Head, the Medical Affairs Director, and the Portfolio Planning Leader. S/he is the contributing (secondary) manager to the Director NTD and the Director of HIV/HCV, in a dual matrix reporting organizational structure, where they (Director NTD and Director HIV/HCV) report to the R&D Director on scientific coherence and Scientific Advisory Committee preparations.



  • Works with all R&D teams, with all Directors of Departments and Regional Offices Directors/Heads
  • Interacts with the GARDP R&D Director on DNDi and GARDP common scientific matters


Other information

  • Status: full time – permanent role


To apply

  • Deadline for application: Accepting applications until 25 February 2019
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted