Assistant General Counsel (Global Health and Gates Medical Research Institute)
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Location: Cambridge (United Kingdom)
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Job Description

Position Summary & Responsibilities

The Assistant General Counsel role will primarily support the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (, a subsidiary of the foundation.   The individual we are seeking has experience in pharma or biotech research and development transactions, and corporate transactions with a working knowledge of intellectual property. This individual has excellent communication, drafting, review and negotiation skills with a keen eye for detail.  Experience with patent licensing is a plus.  

Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute Summary

The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (Gates MRI) is a non-profit biotech dedicated to accelerating the product development timeline for diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest populations, including malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases—diseases that combined cause five deaths every minute- and a range of challenges in maternal and newborn health.

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA and led by CEO Dr. Penny Heaton, our focus is translational medicine, advancing novel drug and vaccine candidates against the aforementioned diseases from the laboratory into human studies. At the Gates MRI, we work across multiple interventions and disease areas to increase the identification, selection, and optimization of novel drug and vaccine candidates, with the intention to transition viable candidates to late-stage development partners across the global health ecosystem. We will seek to publish our learnings, so that they will be available to all research and development communities through our commitment to open access.

To enable a fast-to-decision mindset, the institute operates using small teams and a flat structure with the understanding that it is essential to break out of silos and embrace unconventional approaches across modalities.  The five core mantras that permeate across the organization and drive progress at every level are:

  • Urgency: Strive every day to do better than your last best accomplishment.
  • Collaboration: Solving the world’s most complex disease burdens is a team effort.
  • Innovation: Uncover new methods, approaches and solutions to achieve unprecedented results.
  • Rigor: Follow the science with passion and perseverance.
  • Courage:  Pursue progress boldly without fear of failure.

Though the Institute is a diverse group of passionate change-makers, creative fixers and relentless advocates, these five core values will be universally adopted by all who join it and strive to improve the health and wellness of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Legal Team Summary

"Guidance, Solutions, Integrity" describes the Legal Team's approach to providing responsive legal guidance supporting the implementation of the foundation's strategies. The Legal Team offers creative solutions that accomplish programmatic objectives, develops and implements efficient legal processes to streamline the foundation’s grant making and contracting practices, and applies preventive legal strategies and compliance policies to minimize risks and safeguard the foundation’s reputation.

Leadership and Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.

Additional Position Details

The primary focus of this role will be supporting the Gates MRI but may also support other legal needs of the foundation. A primary duty includes drafting, negotiating and reviewing agreements to support the Gates MRI. Other aspects of the role include ability to:

  • Collaborate with Gates MRI personnel and members of the Legal Team and foundation personnel.
  • Understand the business and charitable objectives of internal client groups, develop creative and practical solutions, provide legal advice and resolve issues using the legal and policy frameworks and the Gates MRI and foundation.
  • Train and educate staff regarding laws, policies and best practices applicable to R&D, product development, Global Access, IP, charitability and private foundations. 
  • Keep current on new and emerging laws and policy developments impacting R&D for human health and private foundations.
  • Provide support in other legal matters of the Gates MRI and foundation policies and issues as needed and serve as an active member of the Legal Team.



  • 5-7 years’ experience in a law firm and/or in-house legal department
  • At least 3 years in-house legal experience in Pharma or Biotech (support of clinical programs a plus)
  • Working knowledge of intellectual property including patents (experience with licensing a plus)
  • Experience drafting, reviewing and negotiating pharma/biotech R&D agreements (such as MTAs, collaborations agreements, licenses, data sharing and the like)
  • International agreement work a plus
  • Knowledge of privacy law, antitrust and anti-bribery laws a plus
  • Experience in other corporate transactions a plus
  • Scientific background or experience working with scientific or technical client-base a plus
  • Detail-oriented, curious, proactive and self-motivated
  • Ability to collaborate across highly matrixed and global teams
  • History of effectively serving a demanding client base in a complex and fast-paced work environment
  • Ability to advise internal clients at all levels in the organization
  • Ability to communicate difficult legal concepts clearly and non-legalistically to business clients orally and in writing
  • Ability to prioritize work in context of the foundation’s and Gates MRI’s risk tolerance framework and objectives
  • Ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm and diplomacy both individually and collaboratively as part of a team effort
  • Passion for innovation, learning and continuous improvement
  • Comfortable with change and ambiguity
  • Comfortable in individual contributor role
  • Sense of humor, humility, perspective, equity and generosity
  • Highest standards of ethics and integrity

Required Education

Juris Doctor degree and current bar membership in good standing are required


This position will directly report to a member of the foundation’s Legal Team with a dotted line to the Head of Compliance of the Gate MRI.


Position is located in Cambridge, MA.  Relocation assistance, if needed, will be offered to the hired candidate. Some travel will be required (particularly to Seattle within the first years of the role).

Applicants for this role will only be considered if they possess current US work authorization and do not require employer-sponsored VISA support to begin or remain employed in this role.


As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We’re committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve—in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs—and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to:

* Race

* Color

* Age

* Religion

* Pregnancy

* Sex

* Sexual Orientation

* Disability

* Gender Identity

* Gender Expression

* National Origin

* Genetic Information

* Veteran Status

* Marital Status

* Prior Protected Activity

About BMGF


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is an American private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. The primary goals of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. 

The foundation works with partners worldwide to tackle critical problems in five program areas.

  1. Our Global Health Division aims to reduce inequities in health by developing new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious disease and the leading causes of child mortality in developing countries.
  2. Our Global Development Division focuses on improving the delivery of high-impact health products and services to the world’s poorest communities and helps countries expand access to health coverage.
  3. Our Global Growth & Opportunity division focuses on creating and scaling market-based innovations to stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
  4. Our United States Division works to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education, and support vulnerable children and families in Washington State.
  5. And our Global Policy & Advocacy Division seeks to build strategic relationships and promote policies that will help advance our work. Our approach to grantmaking in all five areas emphasizes collaboration, innovation, risk-taking, and, most importantly, results.