Manager, Funding Program Design

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), Vancouver, BC

Manager, Funding Program Design

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), funded by the Province of British Columbia, is BC’s health research funding agency. MSFHR helps develop, retain and recruit the talented people whose research improves the health of British Columbians, addresses health system priorities, creates jobs and adds to the knowledge economy.

Since its inception in 2001, MSFHR has been a key participant in BC’s health research and life sciences ecosystem. The Foundation works as a trusted partner with government, the health research community and the health system to support better health outcomes through research and its translation into new treatments, cures, practices and solutions.

Position Summary

The Manager, Funding Program Design leads the design and continuous improvement of MSFHR’s suite of funding programs for health researchers. These funding programs are the Foundation’s core business. This role is accountable for ensuring a robust and effective approach to creating new funding programs and improving existing funding programs, including leading our program learning and improvement cycle. The Manager, Funding Program Design is a key contributor to MSFHR’s research on research activities, and to delivering on our strategic commitment to optimize impact through evidence-informed health research funding.

We are a responsive, data-informed organization committed to learning, continuous improvement and designing programs with impact.

You are curious and creative, and bring a systematic, data- and context-informed approach to program design. You feel energized by big-picture, strategic thinking and are excited by the prospect of ensuring that MSFHR’s programs align with – and stay ahead of – trends in health research and innovative practices in the research funding sector. You have project management experience and can balance competing tasks and priorities. You are thoughtful about process design and attentive to details. A natural team player, you are a strong writer, and skilled at collaborating and communicating across teams.

Key Responsibilities

Evidence-Informed Health Research Funding

  • In collaboration with MSFHR colleagues, fulfill the Foundation’s strategic commitment to optimizing impact through evidence-informed health research funding, including
    • Bringing a spirit of rigour and experimentation to the design and improvement of MSFHR funding programs (for example, by designing and implementing studies to address specific questions or challenges)
    • Substantively contributing to, and in some cases leading, research on research activities at MSFHR
    • Participating with MSFHR colleagues in our strategic partnership on the international Research on Research Institute.
  • In close collaboration with the Evaluation & Impact Analysis team, lead the annual program learning and improvement cycle for MSFHR’s suite of funding programs, including
    • Ensuring we’re asking the right questions about our programs
    • Identifying relevant insights from both quantitative and qualitative program-related data
    • Applying those insights to the design and improvement of new and existing MSFHR funding programs.

Program Improvement and Support

  • Lead the process of making both minor and major changes to MSFHR’s existing suite of health research funding programs, informed by
    • Learnings from evaluation and impact assessment of MSFHR programs
    • Learnings from MSFHR’s research on research activities
    • Promising and best practices in research funding
    • Environmental scanning
    • Stakeholder engagement.
  • Update and ensure accuracy for all MSFHR’s funding program competition documents (e.g. guidelines, applications) so that they are ready in the lead-up to competition launches.
  • In collaboration with the Research Competitions team (and others at MSFHR), ensure successful launches of our funding competitions.

New Program Design

  • In consultation with the Foundation’s senior leaders and others at MSFHR, identify and recommend new health research funding programs in alignment with MSFHR’s overall strategy and intended impacts.
  • Lead the design of new health research funding programs at MSFHR, incorporating input from environmental scanning, stakeholder engagement, learnings from evaluation and impact assessment of existing MSFHR programs, MSFHR’s research on research activities and promising and best practices in research funding.

 Environmental Scanning and Stakeholder Engagement

  • Proactively and systematically scan the health research and research funding environment within Canada and internationally to stay abreast of – and ahead of – key trends and innovations; gather, synthesize, document and apply findings.
  • Regularly report to the Director, Strategy and Vice-President, Research with ideas and recommendations for how gathered information could inform MSFHR’s work; recommendations may be high level (e.g. direction) or specific (e.g. funding program recommendation).
  • Cultivate strong relationships and consult with key stakeholders in BC’s health research funding sector to ensure that MSFHR’s existing and new programs are stakeholder- and context-informed

Experience and Education Required

  • Minimum 5-7 years’ professional experience; prior roles include leading projects, programs and/or initiatives or managing people, or both.
  • Graduate degree in a health research related field (life or social sciences); doctoral degree preferred.
  • Solid understanding of health research and/or health research funding.
  • Experience translating organizational strategy into the design of funding or granting programs in the research and/or non-profit sector.
  • Professional or academic experience in health research, health research funding or health care settings.
  • Project management experience, including collaborative and/or multi-stakeholder projects.

Experience leading or contributing to the development and implementation of organizational strategy a strong asset.

Key Attributes

  • Strong ability to think strategically; able to hold the ‘whole picture’ including the broader context, interests of stakeholders, organizational strategy and intended impacts, and integrate these bigger-picture considerations in undertaking specific work and projects.
  • Adept at working with data and evidence; skilled and disciplined in evidence-informed program design; able to apply skills in research to the design and improvement of funding programs.
  • A mindset of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Systematic and organized in approach; thorough and accurate with details.
  • Able to work effectively in contexts of complexity and ambiguity.
  • Proactive; calm under pressure; able to work to deadlines, and effectively manage competing priorities.
  • Clear and articulate, with excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to be a team player, foster strong working relationships with colleagues and to collaborate across work teams.

How to Apply

If this sounds like you and you would like to play a role in maximizing the impact of health research in BC, please submit your resume and cover letter online at We thank everyone for their interest but only suitable candidates will be contacted. This role is based in Vancouver, BC; candidates must be legally eligible to work in Canada.