CLOSED: Research Fellows and Strategy Fellows, Global Health & Wellbeing

The application deadline for these roles has now passed, but we keep these pages up so previous links don’t break. If you are excited to support our work, but don’t see any open roles that are a match for your skills, you can always fill out our General Application.

Open Philanthropy has a staff of 40 and currently gives away over $250 million per year with the aim of doing as much good as we can per dollar, in causes like global health and development, biosecurity, and scientific research. Over the next decade, we plan to increase our giving by several times while continuing to raise our bar for impact. To do so, we need to assess our impact in our initial cause areas, figure out how to spend more effectively within them, and explore whether there are more promising new areas we should be expanding into.

About the Global Health & Wellbeing team

The Global Health & Wellbeing cause prioritization team focuses on investigating potential new cause areas, prioritizing across causes, and recommending new grants. Much of the team’s work focuses on policy, scientific research, and global development work aimed at improving lives as much as possible by reducing premature deaths and increasing incomes, particularly for the world’s poorest people. Open Philanthropy’s initial cause areas were the result of extensive research, weighing different evidence to arrive at the areas where we believed we could have the greatest impact per dollar spent. Our current round of expansion will take a similarly open-minded and quantitative approach while incorporating lessons learned from our first causes.

So far this round, the team has identified global aid advocacy and South Asian air quality as two potentially promising areas for future grantmaking (we are currently conducting searches for Program Officers to lead our grantmaking in both causes). We are now interested in adding more capacity to the team to identify new giving areas that can beat our ambitious 1,000x social ROI bar. Over the coming years, the team will directly (through grant-making) and indirectly (through hiring new program officers) decide how to distribute billions in new giving.

Examples of the kinds of questions the team might help investigate include the following. In each case, we will be taking a pragmatic attitude and getting highly imperfect answers (highly informed by existing expert opinion and academic literature) that can guide our philanthropic activities, rather than aiming for definitive or academic-style answers.

  • If we decide to create a climate policy program area, what strategic focus should we seek in a potential hire to lead the area? Who should we consider hiring as a program officer? How much should we be willing to spend for each ton of carbon emissions mitigated?
  • Which organizations are doing the most promising work in macroeconomic stabilization policy? Which organizations should we support via grant funding?
  • Is it better to spend more money on fewer causes or spread our funding across many areas? How quickly does the marginal impact in one area decline with total philanthropic spending?
  • Which areas of basic scientific research are most important, neglected, and tractable? Which research domains should we prioritize for grantmaking in the next five years?
  • Whom should we select for our “external investigator” program, in which we give outside individuals budgets to recommend grants?
  • Should we hire a program officer in science policy? Should they prioritize advocating for higher science funding levels or changing existing rules to increase scientific productivity?
  • What is the cost-effectiveness of marginal spending to improve tobacco policy in low income countries (LICs)? Is it neglected?
  • What is the value of marginal increases in foreign direct investment (FDI) in LICs? What are the tractable options to increase FDI in LICs?
  • How should we think about economic growth in rich countries spilling over to the rest of the world through foreign aid, investment, technology transfer, and trade?

We don’t expect you to have detailed views on these questions yet! But we think this list captures a sense of the breadth of issues the Global Health and Wellbeing cause prioritization team is exploring.

About the Positions

We are hiring Research Fellows (RFs) and Strategy Fellows (SFs), who will work together on identifying the best new areas for Open Philanthropy to expand its giving within Global Health and Wellbeing. Both roles will require:

  • Talking to global experts, reviewing reports or academic papers, and working with potential grantees to decide if a potential cause area is important, neglected, and tractable.
  • Dividing time between gathering new information, synthesizing it into concrete recommendations, and taking action on new grants or hires.
  • Working to get the right answer, not summarize others’ views. This will require making reasonable judgment calls and being willing to tackle a problem from multiple angles to check your logic.
  • Being able to write clearly and well, with strong reasoning transparency.
  • Working in a way that is aligned with Open Philanthropy’s core operating values of openness, ownership, calibration and inclusiveness.

While there is significant overlap, we think the roles differ in:

  • Skillset: Research Fellows will need to do deep analysis of academic social science, while Strategy Fellows will spend more of their time engaging with a wide set of external practitioners and experts and doing quicker, more assumptions-driven calculations.
  • Likely future path: Research Fellows are more likely to advance into deeper analytical or strategic research roles in the organization. Strategy Fellows are more likely to become grant-makers themselves or manage specific grant portfolios. However, we could imagine individuals from either role ultimately following either path.

If you are excited to engage with some of the world’s most pressing problems — and put substantial resources into making progress on them — we hope you will apply to one of these roles. Please only apply to one role – we will only consider you for one of the two positions. These roles do have overlapping skills and responsibilities, so don’t worry too much about which role to apply for if you’re unsure; if we think you’d be a great addition to our team, we will find the right role for you.

We’re also hiring at two levels of seniority for each role. We are finalizing details about the title, but we offer some additional guidance in the “Other information” section below.

Apply to the Research Fellow Role

As a Research Fellow you will:

  • Evaluate different types of social scientific evidence (e.g. reading an academic paper and evaluating the evidence and methodology presented in it). You enjoy going “beyond the paper” and trying to extract your true best estimate, accounting for other factors like publication bias and how much you trust the paper’s methodology. You’re interested in distilling complex literatures into concrete recommendations.
  • Build models of your reasoning. You feel comfortable approaching a problem from multiple angles and using data to inform your views and assumptions, as well as quantifying difficult tradeoffs. You’re excited about finding ways to apply data-driven thinking to open-ended questions.
  • Connect with experts in the field to dig deeper on key points, and engage deeply with other social scientists about their work.

While there’s no single background we’re looking for, examples might include: graduate study in economics or political science, research on global health & development, or experience conducting policy research in a think tank.

We expect RFs may go on to manage other researchers, move into an organizational strategic role (e.g. helping us decide how to split grant-making between different worldviews), become senior researchers leading deeper investigations, or become grantmakers.

If you enjoy rigorous research with real-world implications, we hope you will apply.

The application deadline for this role has passed.

Apply to the Strategy Fellow Role

As a Strategy Fellow you will:

  • Gather data and build structured models of your reasoning. You should feel comfortable keeping a skeptical eye on claims you’re presented with in order to come to your own view (however, you do not need to be able to engage deeply with social scientific research, as you will work with Research Fellows when this skillset is necessary).
  • Investigate and make pilot grants. This will require building and managing relationships with potential grantees and stakeholders in the field, as well as synthesizing evidence and making judgment calls under uncertainty.
  • Manage projects and potentially people. You should be excited about scoping and getting toeholds on open-ended questions. You may manage multiple projects at once and ultimately may manage one or more people.

While there’s no single background we’re looking for, examples might include: management consulting, investment research, and evidence-based or data-driven project management / leadership roles.

We expect SFs may go on to manage program officers or other grant investigators, lead grantmaking in a specific cause area, move into cross-functional operational roles, or help start a new grantee organization.

If you enjoy working with experts and grantees to check your thinking and make strategic bets, we hope you will apply.

The application deadline for this role has passed.

Other information

  • These are permanent, full-time, salaried positions.
  • We’d prefer candidates to work from San Francisco if possible, but are open to full-time remote work if a great candidate is only able to work remotely. We would expect occasional travel for remote employees to San Francisco or elsewhere for orientation/training or work collaboration. We also have a smaller cohort of team members based in Washington, D.C., who may work together in-person once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
  • Compensation: We are hiring at two levels of seniority across both positions, which is reflected by a compensation of either $112,934.81 (baseline salary of $98,204.18 and an unconditional 401(k) contribution of $14,730.63) or $156,447.94 (baseline salary of $136,947.94 and an unconditional 401(k) contribution of $19,500). Level and final title is dependent on experience that will be vetted throughout the work test and interview process.1
  • We also offer a comprehensive benefits package including full health, dental, vision and life insurance, flexible work hours and location, ergonomic equipment, and more.2
  • We are happy to consider candidates who would require visa sponsorship. However, please be aware that we can’t guarantee visa approval, and that processing times can be much longer than usual right now. We may be able to hire a successful applicant who lacks U.S. work authorization to work remotely abroad.
  • We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and strongly encourage people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply.
  • If you have other questions about applying, please contact [email protected].
    • 1. This salary assumes a U.S. location. There will be a cost-of-living adjustment upwards for candidates based in San Francisco and Washington D.C. There is a small chance that candidates who are hired at a higher level of seniority could be affected by a career-stage-based pay cap that would lift over time.
    • 2. We can’t guarantee equivalent benefits for an international hire, though we will try to provide core benefits.