Project Director, HEALthy Brain Child Development (HBCD), Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Project Director, HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Program, Division of Extramural Research (DER). NIDA's mission is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. This charge has two critical components. The first is the strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines. The second is ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination of research results to improve practice and inform policy related to drug abuse and addiction. The Division of Extramural Research manages funding programs in support of drug and addiction research.  The DER Director oversees the execution of approximately $865 million for about 2,200 research grants through Funding Opportunity Announcements and research training programs. To carry out its mission, the Division has an annual budget of approximately $3.6 million and a staff of approximately 40 employees.

The position of HBCD Project Director offers a unique and exciting opportunity for scientific and managerial leadership. The HBCD Study, partly supported through the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative, will establish a large cohort of pregnant women from across the country, with emphasis on areas that have been significantly affected by the opioid crisis, and follow them and their children for at least 10 years. Research from this cohort will help understand normative childhood brain development as well as the long-term impact of pre- and postnatal opioid and other drug and adverse environmental exposures. This is a highly visible and complex program that is being supported through NIDA’s Division of Extramural Research (DER) first as planning grants and then as cooperative agreements (such that NIH plays a critical role in its conduct), involving multiple NIH Institutes/Centers, national research institutions, and higher echelons of the federal government. Anonymized data collected through this program will be made publicly accessible for the research community to answer myriad questions on the impact of pre- and postnatal exposure on brain and behavioral development for many years to come. Results from this research are expected to lead to the discovery and development of novel prevention and therapeutic strategies.

As a Science Program Leader, the HBCD Project Director reports directly to the Director, DER, sets scientific priorities, makes high-level decisions about the overall program direction, and approves resource allocations for the approximately $65M/year budget. The HBCD Project Director also formulates major overall scientific policies as it relates to research across all phases of the HBCD study and advises the highest levels of NIH and NIDA management in major areas of importance in overall policy and program direction. The HBCD Project Director collaborates with NIH OD, the HEAL Initiative workgroups and committees, other NIH Institutes/Centers and consults with stakeholders, including families, educators, professional organizations, services and offices serving pregnant woman and children, and other governmental agencies; and serves as spokesperson for the NIH with the scientific community, the press, and other stakeholders.

The successful candidate must possess an M.D., and/or Ph.D. degree, and should have expert knowledge in one or more of the areas encompassed by this project:  substance use and addiction, neurobiology, genetics/epigenetics, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, brain development, epidemiology, and behavior and cognition.  In addition, he/she will possess experience that demonstrates the ability to manage and lead a large, complex, and diverse research program having national or international collaborations, scope, and impact. The individual must also have demonstrated ability to communicate effectively to large and diverse audiences, and manage personnel, budgets, and timelines across multiple fiscal years.

Rockville, MD

The successful candidate for this position will be appointed at a salary commensurate with his/her qualifications.  Full federal benefits will be provided including leave, health and life insurance, long-term care insurance, retirement, and savings plan (401k equivalent). 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT: Selection for this position will be based solely on merit, with no discrimination for non-merit reasons such as race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability, age, or membership or non-membership in an employee organization. The NIH encourages the application and nomination of qualified women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

STANDARDS OF CONDUCT/FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The National Institutes of Health inspires public confidence in our science by maintaining high ethical principles. NIH employees are subject to federal government-wide regulations and statutes as well as agency-specific regulations described at the NIH Ethics Website. We encourage you to review this information. The position is subject to a background investigation and requires the incumbent to complete a public financial disclosure report prior to the effective date of the appointment.

FOREIGN EDUCATION: Applicants who have completed part or all of their education outside of the U.S. must have their foreign education evaluated by an accredited organization to ensure that the foreign education is equivalent to education received in accredited educational institutions in the U.S. We will only accept the completed foreign education evaluation. For more information on Foreign Education verification, visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) website. Verification must be received prior to the effective date of the appointment.

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION: NIH provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you require reasonable accommodation during any part of the application and hiring process, please notify us. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Interested candidates should send a letter of interest, including a brief description of research and administrative experience, CV, bibliography, and a list of five individuals with contact information, who can serve as references to: Maryann Postorino, Office of Human Resources, National Institutes of Health at For further information about the position, please contact the search committee chair: Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D. by email:

Please submit applications by July 31, 2019 (submission date may be extended).
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