Director of Research and Investigations

  • Full Time
  • New York
  • Applications have closed

Website Physicians for Human Rights

crossposted from PHR

Location: This position is usually located in our Headquarters in New York City, but remote while offices remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Classification: Full-time | Exempt

Work Authorization: Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States

Reports to: Director of Programs

Organization Description

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a preeminent international advocacy and research organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. For more than 30 years, PHR has mobilized a community of clinicians and human rights professionals to advance human rights, public health, and social justice across the globe. In this time, it has become a trailblazer in its field, leading landmark investigations into crimes against humanity, and earning a 1997 Nobel Prize for its investigation of the health impact of land mines in Cambodia. PHR has also exposed the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Iraq, exhumed mass graves in Bosnia and Rwanda for international tribunals and provided evidence for criminal investigations into torture and extrajudicial executions.

Today, PHR is on the front lines of the most pressing human rights crises of our time, from the coup in Myanmar, to U.S. police violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The last year has only highlighted the critical importance of using science-based approaches to safeguard human rights, most particularly those of women and children, immigrants, refugees, detainees, and other populations at risk.

Recent highlights of PHR’s work include:

  • Advocating for an Evidence-based Response to the Pandemic: Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, PHR has sounded the alarm over the grave risks posed by COVID-19 to populations in areas where health systems are underdeveloped, decimated by armed conflict, or virtually nonexistent. PHR is elevating the voices of local health providers about the extreme dangers of COVID-19 to their communities and supporting partners around the world in advocating for a concerted, collaborative, science- and rights- based worldwide response.
  • Documenting Police Violence: Following President Trump’s July 26, 2020 order to deploy federal agents to protest sites around the country, PHR sent an expert team to Portland, Oregon to investigate reports of the extreme force police and federal agents were using against protestors and first responders.
  • Highlighting Violence Against the Rohingya: PHR has produced numerous reports documenting serious human rights violations against the Rohingya people of Myanmar. Its latest research sheds new light on the patterns of extreme injuries, specifically related to sexual violence, that survivors suffered through rape, gang rape, mutilation, forced witnessing of sexual assault, and other forms of sexual violence.

PHR’s vital work is sustained by a dynamic and deeply committed team of approximately 45 based in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also supported by a prominent Board and an annual operating budget of nearly $8-9M.

Role Description

The director of research and investigations has internal- and external-facing responsibilities, primarily focused on the management and oversight of existing research and investigations program areas and new program development within the organization’s framework of investigating, documenting, and advocating to prevent human rights violations. This position works closely with the director of programs and other team members to chart PHR’s future growth and strategic vision.  This is a full-time position and will require frequent travel to conduct fact-finding investigations and advocacy, and the capacity to work flexible hours to respond to crises and urgent situations.


  • Direct PHR’s research and investigations unit, overseeing methodologically rigorous research projects that align with PHR’s vision and mission; developing new areas of work, including forensic documentation and rapid response investigations; recruiting and collaborating with medical and scientific experts and academic institutions; developing strategies to monitor and evaluate PHR research; and ensuring the integration of an impact-driven advocacy approach in all research projects.
  • Supervise research and investigations staff in all locations; implement security protocols to ensure the safety of everyone working on the team; maintain a work culture that empowers and mentors staff to deliver outstanding work;
  • Develop, defend, monitor and manage department and individual research project budgets;
  • Ensure that PHR’s research findings are communicated effectively and with the highest ethical and editorial standards, through well-substantiated and compelling original reports, as well as opinion pieces, peer-reviewed articles in medical and legal journals, social media posts, and via other communications channels;
  • Represent PHR in the media, and at external conferences, professional associations, academic institutions, government and policy-making organizations;
  • Provide input on policy positions, advocacy and communication strategies, campaigns, and organizational management and administration;
  • Monitor global human rights issues and emerging conflicts; foster relationships with policy leaders, human rights organizations, academic institutions, donors, and others, in order to identify organizational opportunities;
  • Support fundraising for new research initiatives, coordinate closely with the Development department, meet current and prospective donors;
  • Carry out other functions requested by the director of programs.

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in international relations, public health, journalism, law, social sciences, or research-related field
  • At least 10-15 years progressive experience at nonprofit or international organizations, foundations, or government agencies, with a minimum of 5 years in a senior management position
  • Extensive research experience in international human rights, public health, and/or related work including investigations, reporting, and advocacy
  • Extensive knowledge of international and human rights law, global advocacy, and international justice mechanisms
  • Proficiency with a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research methods and human subjects research ethics
  • Superior writing and editing skills and demonstrated ability to defend and explain complex issues to broad audiences, including senior officials and intergovernmental bodies
  • Comfort dealing with the media and public speaking
  • Inclusive approach to leadership, comfortable working in a cross-cultural setting and with a variety of partners
  • Ability to multitask and work under tight deadlines
  • Proficiency in French, Arabic, and/or Spanish is a plus
  • A self-starter, self-disciplined with spark, imagination, and creativity
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, maturity, creativity, flexibility, passion for the program mission and mentorship of staff, patience, and a good sense of humor
  • Ability to work collaboratively, effectively, and professionally with multiple stakeholders and organizations


PHR offers competitive employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, disability, and life insurance, a retirement savings plan, and generous vacation.

How to Apply

Please combine your cover letter and resume as a pdf or word document and send it to [email protected]. Please indicate “Last Name/First Name, Director of Research & Investigations” in the email subject line.

A complete application consists of:

  • A thoughtful cover letter explaining why you are qualified for/interested in this position with PHR.
  • Resume/curriculum vitae.

Only complete applications in the format requested sent to [email protected] will be considered.

Physicians for Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer. We recruit and hire without regard to race, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, prior conviction, arrest history, disability, marital status, veteran status, or age.

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