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Director of Research Operations, SPARK

Posted by
Simons Foundation | New York, NY

Simons Foundation

Published 15 days ago


The Simons Foundation is a private foundation established in 1994 in New York City by Jim and Marilyn Simons. With an annual grants and programs budget of $300 million, the foundation's mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

The foundation pursues its mission through its grant-making division, comprising programs in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Outreach and Education, and autism research, and through its internal research division, the Flatiron Institute.

The foundation is also committed to advancing autism research. Launched in 2005, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is a research campaign within the Simons Foundation's overall suite of programs whose mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding innovative research of the greatest quality and relevance.


SPARK is a national research study supported by the Simons Foundation that aims to recruit, engage and retain a community of 50,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their family members living in the United States. Participation in SPARK will involve contribution of medical and behavioral information online, mailing in saliva for genetic analysis, the option to have genetic findings related to autism returned and consenting to be invited to participate in future research studies (re-contacting). The SPARK community will provide researchers with an efficient way to invite individuals to participate in their research. One of the primary sources of recruitment for participation in SPARK will be through a network of clinical sites located throughout the country.


The SPARK Director of Research Operation's role will be to assist and report to the Director of Clinical Research by managing the daily operations of SPARK program. They will provide day-to-day management and oversight of the teams responsible for recruitment, retention and participant experience with SPARK. They will also work with the software development team, who is building/maintaining the platform for participants and administrative portals to manage the cohort. The Director will be responsible for working with this team to guide the technical development of the SPARK site.

Essential Functions/Responsibilities

  • Provide day-to-day overall coordination and oversight of outreach and communications, clinical site teams, and customer service teams and ensure effective communication, coordination and prioritization across SPARK teams.
  • Establish and track metrics of success to inform recruitment/retention decisions for SPARK
  • Oversee the provision and prioritization of requirements to the software engineers for features on the SPARK website, coordinator portal, and administrative portal.
  • Critically assess tradeoffs when necessary to make decisions about policies on study decisions and gather necessary information and data to inform decisions
  • Supervise and mentor members of the SPARK team to help them grow professionally
  • Assess best practices across other similar research studies and apply appropriate best practices and improvements to SPARK
  • Oversee the budget and finances of the SPARK program
  • Coordinate with other Simons Foundation cohorts including Simons Searchlight and autism investigators to ensure maximal impact of SPARK

Minimum Qualifications


  • Bachelor's degree is required; advanced degree in a relevant field is desirable.


  • 5+ years of experience managing genetic clinical research programs
  • Demonstrated success managing cross-functional teams
  • Demonstrated experience and success in project management
  • Experience engaging participants in person and online
  • Experience working with software developers is preferred.
  • Experience working with genetic, neurodevelopmental or neuropsychiatric disorders is preferred.

Related Skills & Other Requirements:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills; detail oriented.
  • Excellent critical-thinking skills and ability to prioritize and think about long-term ramifications of decisions
  • Energetic, resourceful with creative problem-solving and conflict management skills.
  • Sound judgment and ethical standards.
  • Ability to understand relevant scientific content and ensure scientific accuracy in communications about autism and genetics.
  • Ability to inspire and lead a team toward a compelling vision
  • Comfortable working independently and in a collaborative team environment


  • Please submit a résumé and cover letter stating your interest in the position.

The Simons Foundation's Diversity Commitment

Many of the greatest ideas and discoveries come from a diverse mix of minds, backgrounds and experiences, and we are committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment. The Simons Foundation provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic disposition, neurodiversity, disability, veteran status or any other protected category under federal, state and local law.



The Simons Foundation is a private foundation established in 1994 in New York City by Jim and Marilyn Simons. With an annual grants and programs budget of $300 million, the foundation's mission is to advance the…

Details at a glance

  • On-site Location
  • Full Time Schedule
  • 4-Year Degree Required
  • Executive

How to Apply


New York, NY

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