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Contracts Counsel (Remote) at Howard Hughes Medical Institute


HHMI is focused on supporting and moving science forward in a variety of different ways ranging from conducting basic biomedical research, empowering educators, inspiring students, developing the next generation of scientists – even stretching into film and media production.  Our Headquarters is in the greater Washington, DC metro area and is home to over 300 employees with expertise in investments, communications, digital production, biomedical sciences, and everything in between.  The work housed here supports and augments the groundbreaking research conducted in HHMI labs across the nation.  As HHMI scientists continue to push boundaries in laboratories and classrooms, you can be sure that your contributions while working here are making a difference.


HHMI is seeking a Contracts Counsel for its Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to help support HHMI’s programs and operations by providing informed, practical, creative, and timely legal counsel in the review and negotiation of research-related agreements. As a member of the dynamic team in HHMI’s OGC, you will be directly involved in HHMI’s mission of advancing biomedical research for the benefit of humanity.

The person in this role will review and negotiate contracts relating to the conduct of research in HHMI laboratories. These contracts include agreements covering the transfer of reagents and other materials into and from HHMI laboratories (inbound and outbound Materials Transfer Agreements or MTIs and MTOs). In addition, the Contracts Counsel ensures that inter-institutional agreements (IIAs) and licenses (Licenses) entered into by third-party research institutions which relate to technology developed in HHMI laboratories are consistent with HHMI’s policies and interests. The Contracts Counsel will work closely with other OGC staff, HHMI scientific management, HHMI laboratory heads and staff, and research institution staff to efficiently resolve issues relating to MTIs, MTOs, IIAs, and Licenses.

This position would report to the Senior Counsel responsible for supporting our Janelia Research Campus and work under the general supervision of the Senior Counsel and two Senior Contracts Counsels. We will consider either remote or hybrid working arrangements given candidate preference.  

In this role you will…

  • Provide informed, practical, creative, and timely advice and counsel to HHMI departments and staff in support of HHMI’s mission, strategic priorities, programmatic objectives, and operational goals while balancing organizational risks.

  • Maintain a thorough understanding of HHMI’s policies and be able to apply them in several contexts, i.e., MTIs, MTOs and Host Licenses.

  • Perform MTI Review: Efficiently handle MTIs for laboratories at assigned research sites to ensure timely review and negotiation and, if MTI terms are acceptable, processing through execution. This includes:

    • Review and negotiate MTIs with providers and host institutions;

    • Advise HHMI laboratory heads and laboratory staff regarding legal obligations under MTIs;

    • Educate laboratory heads, laboratory staff, host institutions staff, and others involved in the MTI process on HHMI policies as they relate to MTIs;

    • Work collectively and collaboratively in OGC’s MTA and License Review group (MTLR Group) to resolve legal and practical issues arising in MTI negotiation and processing.

  • Perform MTO Review: Review and edit MTOs and advise assigned research site host institutions as needed on questions relating to MTOs, such as MTO terms acceptable to HHMI.

  • Perform IIA and Host License Review: Provide timely comments to assigned research site host institutions on IIAs, options, and Host Licenses, consistent with HHMI policies.

  • Confer and coordinate with colleagues in OGC and at HHMI, including Scientific Officers, as appropriate on MTI, MTO, and Host License issues.

  • Update and maintain, in a timely manner, electronic databases associated with MTIs, MTOs, and Host Licenses.

  • Assist the MTLR group and other OGC staff in suggesting, evaluating, documenting, and implementing improvements to HHMI procedures and practices for handling MTIs, MTOs, and Host Licenses.

  • Maintain a current knowledge of legal issues and current practices in the scientific community relevant to MTIs, MTOs, and Host Licenses, including through participation in continuing legal education and membership in appropriate bar and professional associations. As opportunities arise, support efforts of HHMI laboratories and the broader scientific community to promote availability of reagents and other research materials.


  • J.D. degree

  • Active membership of an established bar

  • At least three years of experience as an attorney in private practice or in a corporate, nonprofit, or government legal department

  • At least two years of experience drafting and negotiating contracts, preferably technology license agreements; experience drafting and negotiating contracts relating to life sciences research is a plus

Skills and Abilities:

  • Excellent analytical, problem-solving, judgment, and decision-making skills

  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work both collaboratively and independently

  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills

  • Strong time management and organizational skills

  • Able to effectively communicate with various contacts, including senior management, scientists, other employees, and outside counsel

  • Resourceful in handling several priorities within timeframes and adapting approaches to shifting demands

  • Passion to learn about, facilitate, and take pride in the work of HHMI’s scientists and grantees

  • Willingness and ability to learn new subject matter, to become proficient on IT systems and applications used by OGC, and to employ HHMI-specific processes and procedures

Application Directions:

To apply, please include a cover letter stating how your qualifications and experience match the requirements and how your experience will support HHMI in its mission.

Physical Requirements: 

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).  

Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis. 

Please Note: 

This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however.  Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Compensation and Benefits

Our employees are compensated from a total rewards perspective in many ways for their contributions to our mission, including competitive pay, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans, time off, and a range of recognition and wellness programs.

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