Assistant Director for Transformational Science and Discovery

Assistant Director for Transformational Science and Discovery
Office of Strategic Coordination
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH
GS-0601-15 Supervisory Health Scientist Administrator

Position Information

Position Environment
This position is located in the Office of Strategic Coordination (OSC), within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), in the Office of the Director, NIH, and will report to the Deputy Director, OSC. 

The OSC plans, manages, and oversees activities funded by the NIH Common Fund (CF), a fund of approximately $650 million that supports strategic scientific programs of high priority for the NIH Director and IC Directors. The Office includes three newly established Program Teams; a Division of Other Transactions (OT) Management; a Strategic Planning, Evaluation and Communications Team (SPEC); an Operations Team; and administrative support staff.  The Immediate Office of the OSC Director directs and oversees all functions of the Office.

The Transformational Science and Discovery Program (TSD) Team leads CF programs that aim to establish new scientific paradigms and/or transform the way research is conducted through the development of innovative tools, research methods, or data. Examples of programs within this team’s purview include Extracellular RNA Communication, Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC), Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP), Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet), Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium (MoTrPAC), Nutrition for Precision Health, and others. This team also manages the CF High-Risk, High-Reward program, which provides unique opportunities for investigators to conduct exceptionally innovative, investigator-initiated research. The anticipated annual budget for the TSD team as we project into FY23 and beyond is approximately $400 million. The TSD team consists of 12 federal employees when fully staffed. The effort to oversee individual awards funded via TSD programs is distributed among colleagues across the NIH.

The Assistant Director for Transformational Science and Discovery (AD-TSD) will serve as chief strategist for programs that seek to foster paradigmatic shifts or develop research methods and tools that transform how research is conducted. These programs are designed to have a broad and significant scientific impact on biomedical research.  The AD-TSD will coordinate these activities through supervision of the TSD Team.    

Technical Knowledge and Expertise
The AD-TSD will maintain knowledge in a broad range of scientific areas that pertain to basic research and technology development. The incumbent will be broadly familiar with challenges that biomedical researchers face, including the lack of relevant data sets, technologies, research infrastructure, etc. They will envision structural or process changes, methods/technology development, or infrastructure that might be tested to address the challenges. 

Communication Expertise and Duties
The incumbent must be a skilled communicator to effectively interact with and strengthen collaborations with nationally and internationally recognized senior-level scientific leaders and officials of academic, research, and other institutes and organizations, as well as professional and advocacy groups.  

The AD-TSD will lead outreach to the broader community via organization of workshops or other activities that promote adoption of Common Fund deliverables by the broader community and/or that foster brainstorming around emergent opportunities or longstanding challenges. The incumbent will develop data-driven commentaries and perspectives that enable the community to understand the value of Common Fund programs and the impact of deliverables.

Relationship Building and Collaboration
The incumbent will have deep and broad connections to the basic research community and will understand perspectives of investigators and organizations that are engaged in basic biomedical research. The AD-TSD will understand the challenges associated with investigators working together as a consortium to address complex overarching goals and facilitates that process. They will leverage connections with investigators working in diverse fields to identify challenges and to establish and test innovative strategies to meet these challenges.

The AD-TSD will ensure that Common Fund programs are at the forefront of innovation and technology development, building novel interdisciplinary teams. The incumbent will identify opportunities for scientific advancement that involve multiple Common Fund programs working together, or that bridge Common Fund TSD programs with related programs funded by NIH or by other agencies. The incumbent will develop and foster solid relationships with key scientific professional societies as a forum to gather continuous input from the community and to share information about Common Fund programs. The incumbent also will maintain relationships with organizations that promote diversity in the scientific workforce to ensure that diverse populations of investigators are aware of Common Fund funding opportunities. 

The AD-TSD will partner with the OSC Assistant Director for Catalytic Data Resources (AD-CDR) to design and oversee programs that have the overarching goal of scientific discovery and have the creation of a data resource as a core strategy for catalyzing discovery. The incumbent will collaborate with the AD-CDR to engage data users of many capabilities, including citizen scientists, in the use of data for the purpose of basic science discovery. Similarly, the incumbent will partner with the OSC Assistant Director for Re-engineering Clinical/Behavioral Research and Workforce Development to design and oversee programs that support workforce development and/or that intersect with clinical/translational research through technology development or pre-clinical science. 

The incumbent will establish relationships with other senior staff in the OD and the NIH ICs who are involved in basic science and technology development programs. They will foster partnerships and collaborations across the NIH to optimize the programs supported by the Common Fund and to ensure integration with related programs supported by the ICs. They will represent OSC/Common Fund in trans-NIH and inter-agency meetings that pertain to basic science and technology development as well as meetings involving external partners.

Management and Supervisory Duties 
The AD-TSD will be a highly effective manager of complex projects involving many organizations and diverse investigator communities. Coordination across different types of organizations is critical, and the incumbent will have deep experience with team building and management. While reporting to the OSC Deputy Director, the AD-TSD will bring unique expertise and experience with respect to basic science and technology development and will provide authoritative recommendations to the Deputy Director, the OSC Director, and the DPCPSI Director on these issues.  

The AD-TSD will provide day-to-day supervisory management and direction for members of the TSD team, which currently consists of twelve federal employees. The incumbent will oversee the performance management of these staff, ensuring timely completion of performance plans and appraisals.  The incumbent also will oversee the development of Research Management and Support (RMS) budgets for programs within their purview. The AD-TSD will collaborate with the SPEC Team to establish communication, outreach, and evaluation strategies that serve TSD programmatic objectives. The AD-TSD will make recommendations to the OSC Deputy Director and Director pertaining to adjustment or growth of TSD programs or for establishment of new initiatives.

The AD-TSD will be responsible for furthering the goals of equal employment opportunity (EEO) by taking positive steps to build and support diversity within their team and by adhering to nondiscriminatory employee practices with regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability.  The incumbent will initiate nondiscriminatory practices and inclusive actions for the employees who are under their supervision in the following: (1) application of Merit System Principles in the promotion, recruitment, and hiring practices; (2) fair treatment of all employees; (3) encouragement and recognition of employee achievements; (4) career development of employees; and (5) full utilization of Federal Employees skills.  The AD-TSD will exercise leadership to ensure that all CF programs reflect the principles of workforce diversity in management and operation in such areas as recruitment and staffing, employee development, staff assignments, and communications. The AD-TSD also will ensure a cooperative and supportive workplace which is free of harassment.


This page last reviewed on January 14, 2022