Skip to Content

Assistant Director of Biomedical Graduate Programs

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee

Position Description:

The Assistant Director of Biomedical Graduate Programs is part of the Biomedical Research, Education and Training Office at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and is a key contributor responsible for working with the program Directors on the recruitment, admissions, and curriculum for biomedical PhD students. Reporting directly to the Directors of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program, the Assistant Director of Biomedical Admissions Programs will collaborate with the Directors and other BRET office staff on a daily basis to achieve the missions of the programs with respect to recruitment, admissions, and training.

The Assistant Director of Biomedical Graduate Programs will work collaboratively with other staff in the BRET office and the program directors to ensure that strong students are recruited and then supported at Vanderbilt. The position will involve outreach to prospective students, facilitation of the interview and selection process, assistance with curriculum implementation and analysis of efficacy of recruitment process. Additionally, the Assistant Director will co-direct the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy, which has overarching administrative responsibility for multiple undergraduate summer research programs and also provides intellectual and social enrichment activities for the participants.

About the Work Unit:

The Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) supports and coordinates graduate education, postdoctoral training, minority affairs, career development and education initiatives for the Vanderbilt biomedical community. The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and the Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program within BRET are the two main umbrella graduate programs that recruit biomedical Ph.D. students to Vanderbilt. These programs are responsible for organizing the first year of the graduate students’ education and training, which is achieved via a collaborative effort between the BRET office staff and Vanderbilt faculty

Key Functions and Expected Performance:
• Report to and work in close collaboration with the directors of the Vanderbilt Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) and the Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program (QCB).
o Work closely with all members of the BRET staff. Coordinate bi-weekly standing meetings of the BRET director, program directors, program manager, and others as necessary.
o Manage and coordinate admissions into the Vanderbilt Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program. Act as a contributing member of both admissions committees.
o Manage IGP and QCB recruiting weekends and organize overall applicant schedule and interview schedules in collaboration with program manager.
o Communicate with other graduate programs in the case of students who may be cross-applying or have suitability for other programs.
o Maintain outcomes analysis of recruiting and conduct surveys of applicants and participants as necessary to evaluate recruitment strategies to our programs.
o Participate in graduate student recruiting events, including on campus and off campus events, diversity-focused events, online-virtual events, and personal communication with candidates. This may require travel.
o Direct marketing and outreach for the IGP and QCB to optimize quality of incoming class.
o Sit on the curriculum committee of the QCB. Facilitate communications with instructors.
o Assist with managing QCB courses in Brightspace.
o Flexibility with other duties that accompany the evolving nature of these programs.
o Co-Direct the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA), undergraduate research program
o Aid in the application, selection, appointment, and laboratory placement of students participating in the VSSA.
o Develop and manage the programming of VSSA activities, including orientation, a research seminar series, professional development series, social activities, and large (150 participant) student research symposium.
o Manage VSSA budget and event planning.
o Mentor and advise VSSA students for their individual career goals.
Supervisory Relationships:
This position does not have supervisory responsibility; this position reports administratively and functionally to the Directors of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and the Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program.


Education and Certifications:
 A PhD in a STEM field is required.

Experience and Skills:
Commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is necessary.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills (verbal and written) are necessary.
Ability to effectively collaborate with different stakeholders is necessary.
The willingness and ability to represent Vanderbilt through participation in national student research symposia in a professional and positive manner is necessary.
Availability and willingness to work non-standard hours, especially during recruitment activities, is necessary.
Ability to maintain confidential information is necessary.
Evidence of strong organizational skills is preferred.

Key Characteristics of a Successful Team Member in this Work Unit:

Effective communicator and collaborator

General Characteristics of a Successful Vanderbilt University Staff Member:
ACCOUNTABILITY: Owns decisions, outcomes, work products, etc. that are within the scope of one’s role.
 Works through Issues – Recognizes that the work is about successful outcomes, if things aren’t going well, outcomes suffer; is willing to have crucial conversations if things aren’t going well; doesn’t just complain to management… does everything possible to remedy the situation directly first
 Reliable – Does what they say they will do, when they say they will do it; shows up for work when expected; doesn’t push the burden of work volume or deadlines to others
 Integrity – Holds oneself accountable; takes responsibility for failures as well as successes, recognizes that trust is required to hold a team together
 Acceptance of Feedback – Takes constructive criticism with grace, and makes improvements without taking it personally or holding grudges; when wrong, owns it – freely admits mistakes

COLLABORATION: Works inclusively to build trust and accomplish tasks, goals, and initiatives. Understands, anticipates, and appropriately responds to internal and/or external customers’ needs.
 Optimism – Is friendly, tirelessly cordial, polite, and genial; comes in to work with a good attitude and doesn’t bring their own personal “little black clouds” into the work environment
 Teamwork – Genuinely values teamwork and co-workers, makes them feel valuable and important by acknowledging what they do well; doesn’t expect from others effort that one is unwilling to do themselves, finds ways to acknowledge other’s strong suits
 Honest and Transparent – Doesn’t have hidden agendas, doesn’t play people against each other; is authentic and forthright
 Helpful Nature – Offers to help lighten the load for others in times of need; volunteers rather than waiting to be asked; understands that almost no one works in a silo and needs the help of others to do their job well; recognizes that by helping others first, others will likely reciprocate

COMMUNICATION: Provides information clearly and accurately in various settings, ensuring understanding and participation. Understands how best to present information to different audiences and understands how information may be perceived.
 Shares – Shares information. Communicates proactively. Transmits knowledge; recognizes that “knowledge is power” is less effective than “sharing knowledge is power.” Asks for advice, and considers it thoughtfully
 Is Nice – Asks caring, interested questions and is a good listener -- smiles and is grateful; sends appropriate notes of thanks to others who have helped; avoids gossip or saying negative things about co-workers; patient and generous; makes suggestions rather than stating hard and fast opinions. Avoids being negative, sarcastic, and cynical
 Praises Publicly; Criticizes Privately – When dealing with a difficult co-workers or customers, “pretend your children are watching” how the situation is handled; good manners help keep a cool head; gives credit where credit is due
 Responds Promptly – Recognizes that when emails and phone messages aren’t returned in a timely way, it sends the message that the other party is not important; responds even if just to acknowledge receipt and provide a timeframe by which the requester can expect a full response

DRIVE & GRIT: Is focused on professional excellence and strives to facilitate and support the same for colleagues in and outside their team, effectively manages through challenges and opportunities while seeking to understand and learn from professional experiences.
 Perspective – Maintains a sense of humor and perspective; can laugh first and foremost at oneself
 Raises the Bar – Expects and delivers excellence; is a creative problem solver; is proactive; welcomes input on making things better -- places a high value on learning and getting better
 Resilience – Is resilient in the face of daunting challenges and setbacks; bounces back readily.
 Adaptability – Reads cues and adapt accordingly; adjusts style and approach to accommodate the styles and needs of others; can anticipate and effectively de-escalate potential conflicts

ENGAGED: Appreciates the values and mission of the organization, works to contribute to the university, and understands how their work affects the university and university community.
 Eager – Enthusiastic, wanting to learn, wanting to continue one’s personal and professional development and expertise
 Hard-Working – Is industrious as well as efficient (busy isn’t the same as productive); can juggle multiple competing priorities simultaneously without becoming overwhelmed
 Believes – Believes in the work being done and in the importance of the organization’s mission
 Creative Thinking – Goes beyond the boundaries of the job description, willingly takes on new challenges, and finds creative solutions rather than always awaiting direct instructions

JUDGMENT & PROFESSIONAL ACUMEN: Makes appropriate decisions and evaluates risk and uncertainty to create ideal outcomes, exhibits an eye for the macro and the micro, and works to ensure others are able to do the same.
 Autonomous – Self-managing; self-motivated; manages time, activities and outcomes well so that progress stays on track; cleans up after themselves
 Maturity -- Exhibits professional maturity; doesn’t pass the buck to dodge accountability; doesn’t engage in petty office politics or inappropriate social conduct
 Detail-Oriented – Even small mistakes can create big issues; attention to detail work indicates care about the outcomes
 Assumes the Best – Assumes that others are working as hard as you are on things that are as important as what you are working on; just because you don’t know what someone does, it doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything

COMMITMENT TO CULTURE OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: Supports the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and demonstrates personal dedication through words and actions.
 Champions – Engages in and advocates for inclusive workplace relationships
 Culturally Self-Aware - Develops skills to recognize one’s own biases and to be sensitive to the perceptions of others. Models appropriate cultural behaviors with others
 Commitment - Collaborates on and contributes to organizational and community diversity and inclusion efforts as opportunities arise. 

To Apply:

For more information and to apply for the available position, please visit this website:

Job ID: 10000988