Senior Program Officer, Respiratory Pandemics Vaccine Development, Pneumonia Team, Global Health
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Location: Seattle (United States)
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Job Description

Our Global Health Division harnesses advances in science and technology to save lives in poor countries. We focus on the health problems that have a major impact in developing countries but get too little attention and funding. Where proven tools exist, we support sustainable ways to improve their delivery. Where they don’t, we invest in research and development of new interventions, such as vaccines, drugs, biologics, and diagnostics. Our work in infectious diseases focuses on strategies to fight and prevent HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, enteric and diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Our work in maternal, neonatal and child health focuses on ensuring that women and newborns survive and remain healthy before, during and after childbirth, and ensuring optimal growth, neurodevelopment and resistance to disease, by identifying and addressing underlying biological vulnerabilities. We also support innovative research in reproductive health. These strategies are supported by functional teams that focus on Discovery & Translational Sciences, Vaccine Development & Surveillance, Integrated Development, and Innovation Introduction.

Team Summary

The goal of the Pneumonia Team is to accelerate the reduction and diminish inequity in childhood pneumonia, meningitis and neonatal sepsis deaths. We also aim to minimize mortality from respiratory pandemics. We do this by accelerating the development of novel and lower-cost vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for delivery to our target populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  Our prevention efforts are organized into the following initiatives: pneumococcus, respiratory syncytial virus, maternal immunization (group B streptococcus and pertussis), influenza, COVID19, meningococcus, antimicrobial resistance, and strategic information & risk factors.

As the Senior Program Officer, you will lead, execute, and contribute to strategy development and investment management to support end-to-end vaccine product development and surveillance for two viral respiratory pandemic pathogens: 1) Universal Flu and 2) COVID19.

For universal flu, you will both coordinate and independently drive translational-research subject-matter expertise and pre-clinical research experience for new universal influenza vaccine candidates as well as for other pathogens in the Pneumonia portfolio. You will be responsible for leveraging the expertise of our Discovery & Translational Sciences functional team members as well as cultivating your own perspectives and network of partners to help design creative vaccine strategies for the development of a universal flu vaccine.  This role will manage a portfolio of complex grants and lead internal and external partnerships, which requires relevant expertise, the willingness and ability to dive into the details and see the "big picture", and management skills.

For COVID19, you will lead efforts to assess the impact of the first generation COVID19 vaccines on respiratory burden of disease, including both mortality and morbidity from direct COVID19 etiology, as well as the impact of COVID19 on other respiratory pathogens such as the pneumococcus.   You will be responsible for:

  • Identifying and integrating the surveillance capabilities needed to assess and monitor COVID19’s contribution to the overall burden of disease attributed to respiratory pathogens as vaccines are rolled out over time

  • Help designing and fund COVID19 demonstration projects to assess vaccine impact on children and pregnant women

  • Ensuring the data and evidence required are generated for streamlined introduction of COVID19 vaccines into EPI schedules

  • Identifying potential lifecycle management improvements to increase vaccine effectiveness in LMIC settings (eg schedule optimization, immunization of key transmission groups, improved product presentation)

  • Identifying potential computational and modeling capabilities and curating appropriate datasets to improve our understanding of respiratory pathogen transmission

This role will manage a complex set of interfaces both internally and externally related to the foundation’s work in COVID19 and requires the willingness and relevant expertise working collaboratively in complex, cross-functional teams under circumstances of high ambiguity and high rates of change.

In addition to the above, you will play a critical role in interfacing with and influencing your counterparts in external funding and normative bodies (eg Flu Consortium, WHO, and NIH) as it relates to these two respiratory pandemic pathogens.  You will serve as a voice for the foundation’s efforts overall in COVID19 vaccine development in these forums as well as interfacing with and coordinating with the right internal stakeholders to ensure our priorities are reflected to these partners.


  • Design, plan, and lead management of a portfolio of grants to conduct translational research of influenza, COVID19 and other vaccines candidates.

  • Collaborate with initiatives leads, PST leadership, and functional experts on technical and operational aspects of product development.

  • Identify, select, and cultivate partners to build coalitions and collaborations to achieve programmatic objectives.

  • Review submitted concept notes and grant proposals; provide clear, concise, and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding, including drafting and editing proposal summaries and progress reports for existing grants for review by foundation leadership.

  • Consult with grantees to achieve desired impact of grants; conduct site visits, provide technical mentorship, convene meetings, and apply and evaluate milestone-based performance objectives.

  • Prepare and write briefs and synthesize existing literature. Initiate and provide written analysis and recommendations about key topics of relevance to the Pneumonia team.

  • This role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications internally and externally, including grantees and all levels of partners and stakeholders in the field.


  • MD or PhD in life sciences with expertise in vaccinology, immunology, and/or epidemiology required. Successful in leading innovative late discovery and translational-research projects for vaccines.

  • MPH or public health experience, particularly in low and middle-income countries, is desirable

  • EIS or equivalent epidemiology experience is highly desirable

  • Experience with writing, execution and/or management of performance-based grants, contracts or cooperative agreements preferred

  • Strong knowledge of clinical development, preclinical studies, and regulatory requirements highly preferred

  • Excellence in scientific writing and data analysis, written and oral communication skills, and experience advocating and communicating with a broad and diverse audience.

  • Proven effectiveness as a teammate and collaborator in complex, multicultural and matrixed organizations and partnerships.

  • Field experience, scientific collaborations and network in target geographies (Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia) preferred.

  • Experience working with multiple partners, including academic, research, industry, government, other donors, grantees to build a common vision and visualize simple and effective but implementable solutions to complex problems.

  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behavior with a diverse range of people.

  • Effective as a collaborator in complex internal and external organizations.

  • Extensive project contribution and management experience.

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.