Head of Health Systems/Research Ethics

Reference Number: 
Employment Type: 
Full time
Clinical Healthcare and Research
Job Grade: 

Programme Leadership:

KWTRP is a large Programme, now including 800 staff and 50 Principal Investigators working across hubs in Kilifi, Nairobi and Uganda. We account for £20M spending per year, 200 scientific publications per year and direct influences on areas such as vaccination policy, care of critical illness and health economic policy across Africa. Capacity building is a central aim and has been highly successful, included 76 completed PhD students and newly independent scientists through 10 Training Fellowships, 5 Intermediate Fellowships, 4 African Research Leader awards and an Oak Fellowship. We are now expanding our scientific leadership team to support the next phase of the Programme’s development.

The Head of Health Systems/ Research Ethics (HSRE) will be a critical part of the new team, with responsibility for scientific strategy and decision making and for a transition in leadership within the Programme. She/he will take a leading role in the core funding renewal and shape the direction of the Programme for the near future and longer term with a centre of gravity based in Kenya, and in addition act as a Principal Investigator in their own right leading independent research.

HSRE Leadership:

A key multi-disciplinary Department in the Programme includes researchers with interests in Health Systems (including Health Economics, Health Systems Governance, Policy Analysis, Applied Social Sciences, Health Services work with an overlap into clinical research and broader Health Systems studies) and in Research Ethics (focussing on empirical work). Our HSRE work is based in both Nairobi and in Kilifi, supported by a network of collaborating Healthcare Facilities, Universities and Health System engagements across Kenya. The HSRE Department also manages a community engagement and public/policy/stakeholder engagement platform. With support from managers of these platforms, the Head will be responsible for setting strategic priorities and plans for HSRE, in addition to the broader Programme-wide responsibilities described above. The post will include substantial allocated time for developing and leading new independent research initiatives, with the expectation of building an independent research portfolio that addresses critical healthcare challenges in our setting.

The post requires a scientist with a track record of extensive and noteworthy independent scientific output, with proven capacity to attract funds for research relevant to LMIC settings. Experience of leadership in research is essential, reaching at least group level. External coaching in leadership skills will be made available to the successful applicant.



  • Programme Executive Director


  • Head of Community Engagement.
  • Staff funded by personal projects.


  • Staff in HSRE Department (joint line management of project-specific staff by PIs)
  • Joint line management of Public Engagement and Schools Engagement officers and fieldworkers/research assistants through Head of Community Engagement.
  • Joint management of Policy Engagement Officer with Nairobi Director.


  • HSRE Core Budget
  • Personal Project Grants.


  • Leading the Programme HSRE scientific strategy including chairing planning and management meetings for the HSRE Department.
  • Active participation as part of the senior leadership team in shaping Programme-wide scientific strategy and acting as co-applicant for the Programme core grant.
  • Developing proposals for new research initiatives, with ongoing leadership responsibilities for these areas of personal research
  • Membership of the Heads of Scientific Departments committee, and in a broad range of governance structures and committees.
  • Planning the overall budget and setting targets for development of HSRE on a yearly basis, and negotiating and agreeing the plans with the Scientific Departments Committee responsible for overall scientific strategy in the programme.
  • Ongoing strategic decisions underpinning HSRE work, including reprofiling of the core budget, new research initiatives including the development of new sites or collaborations, design of public/community and policy engagement approaches, data capture platforms and integration with other Departments.
  • Line management of the Head of Community Engagement.
  • Providing input on Health Systems, social science or other related aspects of developing proposals and funding applications, and willing to be a co-applicant on funding proposals from other PIs where relevant.
  • Mentorship of early career scientists across the Programme with related interests, and training input for selected PhD students/ Masters students where relevant.
  • To guide and support the development of collaborative linkages with other local and international health research institutions to develop synergistic and equitable partnerships.


Essential Requirements:

  • A PhD or equivalent post-graduate qualification relevant to HSRE themes.
  • Experience in research with significant impactful research outputs.
  • Significant productivity in peer reviewed journals.
  • Evidence of the capacity to win independent research funding.
  • Leadership experience in research or related areas, at minimum to leading a group.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage and lead complex projects
  • Significant experience of line management
  • Experience of PhD and/or Masters supervision with positive outcomes.

Desirable Requirements:

  • Experience in policy work and/or public engagement
  • Experience in social science or empirical ethics work
  • Experience of health economics, health governance or broader health systems work.
  • Experience of inter-disciplinary work.


  • Evidence of supervisory ability and negotiation skills
  • Evidence of an ability to operate and lead in a federalized environment with decentralized authority.
  • Strong skills in budgeting, development and oversight of project proposals, leadership of meetings, and writing skills.
  • Ability to work across cultures and evidence of communications skills in that context.
  • Willingness to respond within tight timelines and to cope with changing assignments.
  • Strong leadership skills and managerial ability
  • Strong planning, administrative and organisation ability
  • Confidentiality, integrity, patience and calm disposition
  • Team working and ability to work in a multi-cultural environment


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All applicants are required to state their current/last salary.

Candidates must supply an email and telephone contact that will be used when offering interviews.  Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Shortlisted candidates shall be required to produce ORIGINALS of their National Identity Card, academic and professional certificates, original transcripts and testimonials, detailed curriculum vitae and valid clearance certificate (certificate of good conduct) during the interviews. 

The application closing date is 6 July, 2019. 

 KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) is an equal opportunity employer. Direct or indirect canvassing will lead to automatic disqualification.  KWTRP does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, processing, training or any other fees).