The Executive Director of MRF will lead multiple initiatives to support a burgeoning scientific field and an understudied disorder. The Executive Director will work closely with the Foundation board and the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to implement MRF’s strategic direction and to lead enhanced impact on the field.
Specific responsibilities include:
- In the coming year, successfully transition responsibilities for grantmaking operations and programmatic communications currently handled by Milken Institute consultants to full oversight and implementation by MRF with support from The REAM Foundation. Work with Milken Institute consultants and The REAM Foundation’s Executive Director and support staff to implement a comprehensive, seamless, and effective transition plan, keeping the board updated on progress. Operationalize MRF’s activities to effectively address short- and longer-term priorities, resources, milestones and, most importantly, impact on the field. Specifically, work with the Foundation board to determine resources needed to build an appropriately-sized team and other considerations (e.g. structure of shared services with the Foundation, etc.) to ensure MRF is well-positioned to achieve its strategic priorities. Work with the SAB and Foundation board to develop MRF’s next strategic plan. Serve as a “bridge” between the scientific community and the Foundation board, sharing insights on the nuances of scientific research funding vis-à-vis philanthropy and guiding operational decision-making that advances MRF’s overall goals. Prepare and implement annual operational plans based on recommendations from the SAB and Foundation board. Create and facilitate two to three SAB meetings annually, one or two virtual and one in-person. Stay informed on trends, new initiatives, and effective strategies in related scientific, research, and public health fields as well as funding ethics and inclusion.
- Work with the Foundation board and SAB to set short and long-term strategy, establishing a vision for its long-range impact. Oversee implementation of MRF’s multi-year research grant program, including the annual RFP and grant term development and approval within the Foundation. Working closely with the SAB to set annual priorities for the domestic and international grant program. Utilizing best practices in grantmaking, proposal review, and grantee reporting, ensure that MRF’s systems and standards prioritize scientific rigor while promoting innovation and collaboration. Maintain and share a high level of knowledge of effective grantmaking strategies and current thinking in philanthropy and, in particular, research funding that maximizes impact on the field. Oversee the crafting and dissemination of the annual RFP to maximize strength and rigor of proposals. Respond to inquiries from potential applicants. Recruit appropriate peer reviewer committees for grant review based on content of LOIs, orient peer reviewers and steward a rigorous review process with input from the SAB. Oversee and facilitate virtual peer review “consensus calls” for each peer reviewer team, potentially with input from SAB. Synthesize input from peer reviewers and the SAB and develop final recommendations to present to the Foundation board for annual funding decisions. Work with Institutional/University grant program offices on grant terms and fund disbursements. Work with grantees and manage the semi-annual reporting process, ensuring that MRF’s standards for accountability, rigor, and impact are achieved. Work with the SAB when appropriate to address concerns.
- Organize an annual in-person (as appropriate) misophonia meeting for investigators to share findings from funded projects (using professional meeting planner for logistics). Coordinate input from SAB and other stakeholders for implementation of the annual meeting. Serve as MRF’s liaison to applicants, collaborators, patients, and the media. Working closely with the SAB and Foundation board, develop, evaluate, and lead initiatives to achieve the following: Cultivate existing relationships and seek out new opportunities for partnerships and relationship-building with other funders (public and private), as well as partners in advocacy and public awareness. Promote broader funding for impactful misophonia research. As appropriate, ensure MRF has “a seat at the table” in the broader dialogue around misophonia. Promote open science and build a community for collaboration among those actively researching or interested in advancing research on misophonia. Explore the development of systems (online, email, etc.) for grantees to share findings and actively collaborate. Within the framework of MRF’s next strategic plan, identify and evaluate other strategies/programs that advance the field of misophonia research and treatment.
Key Selection Criteria
Education: A PhD or similar terminal degree from an accredited institution in a relevant field (e.g., neuroscience, psychology, audiology, etc.). Health, clinical, or basic science research experience required. Successful completion of a postdoctoral fellowship or comparable postdoctoral work experience related is highly preferred.
Experience: The ideal candidate will have several years of experience in the following areas and possess a combination of the following qualities:
- Entrepreneurial bent and collaborative approach. Demonstrated ability to build and grow a program or initiative. Experience in grant-writing for research, reporting progress to funders, overseeing a research program, and serving on peer review panels. Ideally, experience in programming for scientific meetings. Attention to detail with strong documentation, workflow management, and organizational skills. A proven record of strategic thinking and effective decision-making. Creative approach to problem-solving with the ability to identify and assess emerging opportunities.
- Excellent written communication skills, particularly in drafting and editing a variety of materials with scientific content (letters, grant proposals, summary documents), as well as preparing presentations with scientific and programmatic content. Demonstrated commitment to open science. Level of comfort working in a nonprofit grantmaking foundation environment and understanding of IRS tax rules and how they impact health-related research funding. Advanced proficiency with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Zoom, and Google Suite, in addition to online medical resource searching (e.g., Ovid, Medline, PubMed, etc.)
Personal / Professional Attributes
- Comfort working with ambiguity; able to work independently and effective at managing multiple workstreams simultaneously. Proactive, with a strong work ethic and the ability to meet deadlines and understand priorities. High EQ, strong active listener, and outstanding interpersonal skills. Able to work through differing opinions with grace and respect for others’ ideas and views. Can communicate his/her own opinions with clarity but remain open to other approaches. A natural teacher, building up staff and stakeholders to be more effective together. A team player, able to work independently as well as collaboratively with key stakeholders. Proven ability to communicate clearly and professionally in writing and verbally to a variety of audiences, including scientists and grant applicants, consultants, The REAM Foundation board and staff, the SAB, media, the public, and other stakeholders. Skilled in building relationships across multiple groups and scientific disciplines. A strong interest in (or interest in learning about and advocating for) misophonia research combined with a passion for advancing impactful scientific research in a nascent field.
Misophonia Research Fund
The Misophonia Research Fund aims to advance scientific breakthroughs and end suffering from misophonia. Misophonia is a disorder of decreased tolerance to specific sounds or stimuli associated with such sounds. These stimuli, known as “triggers,” are experienced as unpleasant or distressing and tend to evoke strong negative emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses that are not seen in most other people.
Scientific understanding of misophonia has been very limited: there are no objective measures for diagnosis, and no scientifically vetted therapeutic strategies once a diagnosis is made. Moreover, any active research has been highly fragmented across medical specialties such as neuroscience, audiology, and psychology. Beyond the scientific questions, many clinicians are not aware of misophonia and, if aware, are unable to bill insurers for treatment. These gaps leave misophonia patients unable to navigate information, find clinicians, or identify potential therapeutic strategies.
Following a family member’s struggle with misophonia, the founders of The REAM Foundation, a private family foundation, sought to make a difference in the nascent field of misophonia research. In 2018, they engaged the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy to help guide strategic planning for this initiative and to help structure and implement a scientific grantmaking program. The Misophonia Research Fund (MRF) was launched in 2019 with an inaugural round of funding for medical research grants that seek to better understand misophonia, diagnose people who have the disorder, and assess treatment strategies.
Over its first four grant cycles, MRF has committed more than $9,500,000 in grants to support outstanding research in the US and internationally. MRF’s main strategic priorities are:
- Focus on interdisciplinary science and collaboration;
- Build a fundamental understanding of misophonia;
- Support the development of diagnostic tools;
- and Drive increased rigor in misophonia clinical studies.
In addition to grantmaking, MRF seeks to advance the field by cultivating relationships with related research organizations and funders to catalyze broader investment in research, by promoting open science and creating a community and systems that encourage collaboration, and – over time and through relationships with allied organizations – by supporting advocacy efforts and enhancing awareness among clinicians and the public.
In keeping with MRF’s initial strategic plan, MRF is now seeking its first full-time Executive Director. This new leader will guide MRF into its next phase of development and will work closely with The REAM Foundation board, the Executive Director of The REAM Foundation, and other Foundation and family office staff (which will provide shared administrative services) to continue building a sustainable and highly impactful program. The role will also be guided by MRF’s Scientific Advisory Board.