The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (HCPDS) seeks a Research Associate/ Project Manager to lead field-based activities for ongoing studies of cognitive aging and dementia in rural South Africa. Our work aims to understand how cognitive function in older age is shaped by biological aging and lifespan social experience. We use a variety of methods to tackle issues related to reliable measurement of cognitive function across countries and cultures. The work is grounded by an NIA-funded study based in Agincourt, South Africa: Health and Aging in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI).
The successful candidate will both manage study operations and perform data analysis for the HAALSI Dementia Study, an ancillary project focused on the epidemiology of cognitive aging and dementias. The project is led by the Drs. Lisa Berkman, Livia Montana, and Meagan Farrell at HCPDS plus a team of collaborators at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Columbia University in New York.
This position is a one-year appointment from date of hire with the possibility of renewal. For up to four months over the course of the year, the research associate will be based at and reside in Agincourt, South Africa and manage study and data collection operations. From that point the research associate will work at the HCPDS in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
While serving on site in South Africa:
- Manage the study start-up including staff hiring and training, recruitment, and ensuring study procedures are meeting approved timelines and following protocol and SOPs
- Manage all field work including the home-based assessments of cognitive function, clinical assessments of neurological signs and symptoms, and hospital-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of brain structure and function
- Communicate study progress with the collaborators at Harvard, University of Witwatersrand, and Columbia. Prepare and send project reports and updates to Harvard Team and collaborators
- Serve as a senior resource to project staff to problem solve. Ensure projects meet key milestones and outcomes. Coordinate with HAALSI Project Site Manager with set up and maintenance of logistical aspects of the projects (e.g. training in study protocols, document management and data collection systems)
- Act as a primary liaison with South African counterparts to plan and manage study management systems for tracking scientific progress and monitoring of participant recruitment and compliance
- Oversee ethical compliance at Harvard, University of Witwatersrand and all other IRBs
- Oversee monitoring and quality control processes for field and data collection
- Draft and revise standard operating procedure documents (SOPs) as needed
While serving at HCPDS:
- Lead and participate in analysis of neuropsychological data
- Collaborate with project investigators and study team on data analysis
- Write and co-author publications
- Participate in production of analytic datasets
- Contribute to questionnaire development and study design for sub-studies
- PhD in cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, global public health, or similar field required. Prior project management and population-based data management experience required
- Demonstrated experience project managing complex research studies
- Productive research record in cognition, aging, or global health, preferably with peer-reviewed publications
- Skilled in statistical analysis and programming (e.g., Stata, MATLAB, SAS)
- Highly motivated to pursue an independent research career in the future
- Culturally sensitive with excellent interpersonal skills to facilitate team-based work and interaction with research participants.
- Experience or desire to work with aging populations
- Excellent interpersonal, communication, organizational, and time management skills
- Ability to work well independently, and cooperatively within a team while also being able to take initiative
- Valid driver's license required
- Prior experience with clinical trials, observational studies; budget experience; experience working on NIH studies; Institutional Review Board ethics protocol preparation; prior management and/or capacity building experience. Demonstrable interest in research related to brain aging, learning and memory, or cognitive neuroscience
- Experience in working with complex longitudinal data sets such as HRS, SHARE, and related international sister studies, etc
- International work or travel experience.
Applicants should submit a cover letter and CV to the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Research Associate Application” in the subject line. Questions should also be directed to that email address. Short-listed candidates may be asked to submit a writing sample.
For more information on the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and HAALSI, visit:
Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.