Scientific Director, NEI

Review begins: January 10, 2022

The National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Scientific Director to provide creative vision and strong broad-based leadership to guide its Division of Intramural Research (DIR). 

NIH offers unique opportunities for a scientific leader: opportunities for collaboration with an extensive community of NIH scientists who have broad expertise across all fields of biomedical research, and a funding model that facilitates the conduct of long-term and high-impact science that can be difficult to undertake in other research environments. The presence of both clinical and basic disciplines at the NIH provides opportunity for translational ventures including “first in human” studies, and the NEI has a strong commitment in these areas.

The NEI achieves its mission in multiple ways. The NEI (1) drives innovative research to understand the eye and visual system, and prevent and treat eye diseases; (2) seeks to reduce the impact of blinding eye diseases and preserve sight; (3) fosters collaboration to develop new ideas and share knowledge across other fields; (4) recruits, inspires, and trains a talented and diverse new generation to strengthen the vision workforce; (5) improves quality of life for people who are blind or have low vision and eliminates health inequities; and (6) disseminates eye health information. The DIR is a component of the NEI Intramural Research Program (IRP). The DIR also serves the broader NIH community through collaboration and participation in trans-NIH initiatives and special interest groups.

Currently, DIR staff conduct research in basic, translational and clinical programs in cell and developmental biology, immunology, molecular genetics, neuroprotection, retinal degenerations, retinal circuits, systems neuroscience, neuroprotection, visual processing, data science, and clinical trials. These programmatic interests serve to elucidate the biological basis of normal visual function and how the pathobiology of disease causes vision loss in both rare and complex vision disorders. The DIR is also engaged in developing diagnostic tools, treatments, and therapeutic interventions using small molecule, cell and gene therapy technologies to improve or reverse vision loss. 

The Scientific Director (SD) provides administrative oversight and executive-level programmatic leadership for intramural research at NEI, including development of a long-range plan to guide, and where possible, to integrate basic, translational, and clinical research along with biomedical data science research efforts. The SD also allocates laboratory space and other resources and oversees recruitment and career development of a diverse cadre of exceptional investigators and intramural training programs for research fellows and other trainees. The successful applicant may also maintain a personal laboratory or clinical program conducting innovative research in vision/clinical science, supported by resources appropriate to the size and scope of the program. The SD will develop partnerships across the NEI and NIH and with industry, academia, and other Federal agencies to advance vision research. The SD serves as a member of the NEI Leadership Team that advises the NEI Director and interacts closely with NEI leadership, particularly regarding strategic research directions and innovative approaches to support vision research. 

The Scientific Director serves as the principal advisor to the NEI Director on scientific affairs involving the DIR. The SD reports directly to the NEI Director, works closely with the NEI Deputy Director and Clinical Director, and identifies and facilitates collaborative opportunities across the NIH and with academic institutions, organizations, and the broader scientific and surrounding communities.

The Scientific Director will recommend, develop, and implement new DIR initiatives and programs; oversee program operations including program planning and evaluation; and provide fiscal management and administrative supervision. The Scientific Director creates and maintains a nurturing research environment that encourages innovation, collaboration, and efficient utilization of resources. For more information on the NEI, please visit

LOCATION: Bethesda, MD

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: The National Eye Institute seeks candidates who have a commitment to scientific excellence and the energy, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking necessary to lead a dynamic and diverse organization. Applicants must exhibit exceptional leadership ability in managing multidisciplinary research programs. Applicants must possess an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree in the field of biomedical sciences and have senior-level research experience and outstanding scientific knowledge of vision research programs in one or more scientific areas related to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, or the special health problems and requirements of the blind. Applicants should be known and respected within their profession, both nationally and internationally, as distinguished individuals of outstanding scientific competence and administrative capability. Applicants should have leadership experience, proven experience in managing and directing a scientific research program, strong track record of mentoring and training future scientists, proven experience in budget and resource allocation and well-honed administrative and interpersonal skills. Preference will be given to candidates who have demonstrated leadership using innovative approaches to develop scientific programs; planning, program assessment, and analysis of program objectives; resolution of operational problems and issues; and the ability to manage financial and human resources including building, motivating, and maintaining a diverse staff and serving as a spokesperson. The NEI seeks applicants who have a compelling vision for the future of the NEI intramural research program, a commitment to scientific excellence, and the innovative thinking necessary to maintain the DIR’s research efforts at the scientific forefront. A diverse pool of applicants is sought, so qualified individuals from all backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

SALARY/BENEFITS: Salary is competitive and will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the candidate. Full Federal benefits will be provided, including retirement, health and life insurance, long-term care insurance, leave, and a Thrift Savings Plan (401K equivalent). A recruitment and/or relocation incentive may be available; and relocation expenses may be paid.

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 NIH 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. 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 education institutions in the United States. We will only accept the completed foreign education evaluation. For more information on foreign education verification, visit National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). 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 accommodations 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.

EXPANDED/MAXIMUM TELEWORK POSTURE: Due to COVID-19, the agency is currently in a maximum telework posture. If selected, you may be expected to telework upon your appointment. As employees are permitted to return to the office, you may be required to report to the duty station listed on this announcement within 30 calendar days of receiving notice to do so, even if your home/temporary telework site is located outside the local commuting area. Your position may be eligible for workplace flexibilities which may include remote work or telework options, and/or flexible work scheduling. These flexibilities may be requested in accordance with the HHS Workplace Flexibilities policy.

HOW TO APPLY: Applicants must submit a current Curriculum Vitae with bibliography; copy of degree, and full contact information for 5 references. Applicants must also submit a statement of interest that includes the candidate’s vision for intramural vision research at NEI and a separate statement that addresses the specific qualification requirements including administrative experience. Please limit both statements to two pages each. Please include in your CV a description of mentoring and outreach activities in which you have been involved, especially those involving women and persons from racial/ethnic or other groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research.

Application packages should be sent via e-mail to the NEI Search Committee c/o Cindy Best at Questions should be directed to Cindy Best at 301-496-2234. Review of applications will begin on or about January 10, 2022, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


DHHS, NIH, and NEI are equal opportunity employers and encourage applications from women and minorities.

This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 11, 2022