Science Philanthropy Alliance

Infectious Disease Fellow


Location: Palo Alto, CA; Status: Full time, Exempt

Reports to Science Director of the Science Philanthropy Alliance

About the Organization

The mission of the Science Philanthropy Alliance is to increase philanthropic support for basic scientific research.

Since its inception in 2015, the philanthropic community has shown broad interest and support for the Alliance's mission. Membership has grown to include over thirty high-impact national and international foundations, and the Alliance is on track to once again influence significant funding in basic science in 2020. Valerie Conn is the new President and is now leading the development of the organization's first formal strategic plan. The Alliance is at an exciting juncture in its organizational history, having transitioned from its start-up phase to a highly professional, well-respected leader in the non-profit sector. Joining the Alliance team is an incredible opportunity for someone who believes in the fundamental importance of basic science research and desires to be part of a growing organization making a significant philanthropic impact.

How We Execute Our Mission

The Science Philanthropy Alliance is a group of funders that have come together to increase philanthropic support for basic scientific research to accelerate scientific discovery in the twenty-first century. We accomplish this by understanding the opportunities and complexities philanthropists face in their quest to fund basic science. We provide advice and learning opportunities for individuals and foundations so they can help answer scientific questions, solve big problems, and further our knowledge about the natural world. We empower them to advance their own science interests and priorities. We do this by utilizing our deep connections in the worlds of science and philanthropy. By serving as impartial advisers to philanthropists, promoting collaboration among those who are interested in this vital stage of scientific discovery, and bringing together donors and top scientists, the Alliance aims to substantially increase philanthropic funding for fundamental research and to create a community of funders for discovery-driven scientific inquiry.

About the Position

The Infectious Disease Fellow reports directly to the Science Director and serves as an integral member of the science team at the Alliance. This position is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In this role, the fellow will work side-by-side with the Alliance staff and esteemed Senior Science Advisors to guide investment decisions across the science sector, specifically for Infectious Disease initiatives.

In the broadest sense, the fellow will utilize their scientific expertise to support our mission and simultaneously learn about how philanthropy works in the scientific community. In particular, the fellow will support the Alliance's short-term and long-term work related to infectious diseases.

The ideal candidate for this position will be able to handle multiple diverse projects and work as part of a team. They will be passionate about basic science research, will be an advocate for increasing support, and will be curious to learn about the philanthropic landscape.

Key Areas of Responsibility

The fellow will have a unique opportunity to develop an understanding of the basic science philanthropy landscape, primarily through supporting the work of the President, Senior Advisor, Advisor, Science Director, and Senior Science Advisors in managing the relationships with members, advisees, and other organizations and individuals. Reporting to the Science Director, the fellow will be working actively as a part of a team to ensure a high level of advising services to high-net-worth individuals and foundations. Activities may include analysis of best practices in science philanthropy, reviewing research proposals, and creating "how to" materials for new philanthropists. The fellow may also undertake research projects, some of which will be in partnership with Alliance member organizations. In addition, the fellow may assist in other Alliance projects, such as organizing scientific workshops in support of advising efforts or providing content for the Alliance website and social media about the importance of basic science and basic science philanthropy. Upon completion of the fellows program, the fellow will be knowledgeable about philanthropy, understand the basic science philanthropic landscape from the lens of multiple stakeholders, and be well prepared to transition to a future position in a role that serves to support effective funding for basic science research.

In particular, the fellow will support the Alliance's short-term and long-term work related to infectious diseases. Specific activities in the short-term may include mapping and tracking philanthropic funding of basic science related to COVID-19, reviewing proposals, and identifying and facilitating funding for critical data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Longer-term activities over the two-year fellowship period will support the Alliance's work to assess the basic science needs for emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. Activities may include organizing a series of workshops and identifying gaps in funding and research.


  • Deep curiosity about a wide variety of life science fields, with particular expertise in microbiology, virology, immunology, epidemiology, and/or disease ecology
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, particularly in writing and editing materials with scientific content (letters, white papers, summary documents), as well as preparing presentations with scientific content (PowerPoint)
  • A creative approach to problem solving and the ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities
  • Be proactive with projects, share innovative ideas, and demonstrate a sense of urgency, a clear set of priorities, and a strong work ethic
  • Unimpeachable integrity and trustworthiness; a fine-tuned sense of discretion in the handling of confidential and sensitive matters
  • Ability to inspire enthusiasm about the Alliance mission
  • Ability to forge close working relationships with staff at Alliance member organizations and with Alliance advisees
  • A high level of energy, self-confidence, persuasive charm, self-motivation, and initiative in order to function at peak levels in a fast-paced, high-expectation environment
  • Ability to maintain composure under pressure
  • Comfortable working with Microsoft Office suite and ability to learn to use relational databases (Salesforce)


Should possess at least three of the following:

  • Experience as a scientist with expertise related to infectious disease
  • Experience with nonprofit or governmental organizations
  • Experience in research, communications and/or marketing within a research-related institution, foundation, or a non-profit organization dedicated to science
  • Experience in science communications for a lay audience

Education: Ph.D. in a science field

Term of Employment, Compensation, Location and Start Date

The fellow will be appointed for two years, with continuation of the second year contingent on a significant review after the first year.

Compensation / Benefits

The Alliance offers a robust compensation and benefits package including a competitive salary, full medical/dental/disability/life insurance benefits, retirement plan participation, and flexible spending accounts, vacation, personal and volunteer leave benefits.

Application: To apply for this position, please send your cover letter and resume to

New Venture Fund Careers

Science Philanthropy Alliance is a project of New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. NVF is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. NVF's work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

Job Classifications

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Last updated: 2020-09-03