Director, Jumpstart Program

Pennsylvania, United States
21 Jul 2020
End of advertisement period
21 Sep 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

Job Description Summary

Orphan diseases represent a collection of disorders that afflict fewer than 200,000 individuals for any single disease type, yet there are more than 7,000 distinct orphan diseases. The Orphan Disease Center (ODC) in the Perelman School of Medicine was founded in 2011 to promote and fund research in rare diseases globally, beyond Penn, making a difference for these under-served patient populations. A unique aspect of ODC is that it is a "Center without walls" which sources and contributes to developing transformative therapies through the use of platform technologies and of research strategies that can be deployed across multiple rare disease programs. The main feature is a pilot grant program that provides $8M annually to over 35 global institutions.

Job Description

Jumpstart is a program we initiated where we work with a variety of rare disease groups to help them establish a research agenda. We get many inquiries in the ODC about what a parent or foundation can do next to find a cure, and it all begins with research. Many of these diseases have no funding and little happening in terms of research toward drug development. We learn what exists in their disease space and identify what the appropriate next steps would be to initiate/progress research in their disease. In some cases, the conversation advances to a partnership with the ODC.

We are currently seeking a new Director of the Jumpstart Program that will directly impact the ODC's mission of developing transformative therapies using platform technologies that can be deployed across multiple rare diseases. As the Director of Jumpstart, you will be the main point-of-contact for all foundation and rare disease patient parents who are seeking guidance on their specific disease's research agenda. You will help them navigate what is their best next course of action for their disease. If fitting, you will assess the disease for potential partnership with the ODC, working with ODC leadership and adviser to develop a strategic plan for new R&D programs, including the establishment of centralized research tools across diseases. You will partner with the ODC program of excellence directors to build out best practices and resource planning across multiple rare disease programs. You will continue to expand the ODC's research network of Key Opinion Leaders, foundation partners, and patient groups as well as identify potential biopharmaceutical partners. Also, you will lead efforts for applying new platform technologies to specific rare diseases of interest.

Joining the ODC offers you with unique opportunity to contribute to revolutionizing the practice of medicine for under-served patient groups.


  • Highly advanced professional discipline. M.D., Ph. D., or equivalent doctoral degree and 5+ years of relevant experience is required.
  • Research experience in Neuro-focused discipline and rare disease strongly preferred
  • A Certification in Genetic Counseling (CGC) strongly preferred
  • 3-5 years of drug development experience
  • Experience writing clinical development plans preferred
  • Self starter but also a strong desire to contribute and work collaboratively to achieve goals
  • Success in roles requiring execution of multiple tasks while responding to multiple priorities
  • Highly functioning, detail-oriented, and analytical candidate who can think strategically
  • Excellent oral/written communication skills required

Job Location - City, State

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School

Perelman School of Medicine

Pay Range

$88,861.00 - $168,837.00

Affirmative Action Statement 

Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements 

Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

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