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Chief Data Officer

Southern Research
Birmingham, AL
Start date
Mar 22, 2023

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Job Details

Chief Data Officer



The Chief Data Officer (CDO) is the steward of Southern Research's public health impact.  This position will be a critical architect of Southern Research's data and bioinformatics strategy by co-creating and overseeing Southern Research's enterprise data strategy, including determination of key use cases related to translational research, health impact, and client needs; thought leadership for Southern Research's precision medicine strategy; and cross-collaboration with Southern Research's work in drug, vaccine, and diagnostics research. This new visionary leader will help the CEO establish Southern Research's scientific brand in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and among academic partners and peer organizations.

Under the leadership of the CDO, Southern Research will define expertise in bioinformatics, data science, and precision medicine; amplify public health impact; and forge sustained scientific partnerships with academia, industry, and government. Furthermore, the CDO will have a joint appointment with academic affiliate, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), via the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute in an appropriate basic or clinical science department, based on the candidate's expertise.

This position reports to the CEO, and will be a member of a leadership team whose peers include:

  • Chief Administrative Officer
  • VP of Finance
  • VP of Research Services
  • VP of Scientific Platforms
  • Chief People Officer
  • Chief Business Officer

The CDO will build and oversee several groups within Southern Research:

  • The CDO, as SR's chief data architect, will launch a data engineering team
  • The CDO will lead SR's work in AI and Machine Learning, leveraging SR's internal data, client / partner data, and public data
  • The CDO will oversee SR's work in bioinformatics, including the creation of a clinical-genomic database
  • The CDO will lead the integration of data from a new business line in diagnostics to build an interface for both researchers as well as physicians and providers


  • Provide strategic leadership to grow and align data science and bioinformatics platforms into esteemed and commercially viable centers of excellence.
  • Collaborate with the executive team to re-imagine Southern Research as a commercial and translational engine wherein scientific talent drives innovation.
  • Establish a translational research agenda via government and commercial work and align scientific operations with that agenda.
  • Maintain a discrete portfolio of personal research to enhance and refine subject matter expertise and remain connected to innovations in the field.
  • Co-lead a community genomic sequencing program, with the aim of creating a clinical-genomic database and biobank serving one of the most diverse and underinvested patient populations in the United States.
  • Develop a scientific talent investment agenda to invest in current team members and prioritize recruitment of new candidates to expand or deepen capacities.
  • Provide leadership to establish a seamless collaboration with UAB to marry SR technical expertise with UAB's basic and translational science expertise.
  • Collaborate with VP for People and Community and UAB's Provost to implement a dual appointment process with UAB.
  • Chair SR's new Fellows program, with the aim of modeling a culture of scientific mentorship, thought partnership and collaboration with scientists and technicians in the Divisions of Scientific Platforms and CRO Services.
  • Serve as a trusted advisor to the CEO and Board on all matters related to the development and execution of the Institute's scientific agenda.
  • Be an internal and external champion of Southern Research's mission, vision, strategy and cultural redevelopment.
  • Sets clear expectations, gives appropriate autonomy, and guides team members.
  • Co-directs the development of annual scientific and data integration goals, including obtaining and acting upon inputs from the Board of Directors, the Scientific Advisory Committee and collaborators.
  • Works closely with the CEO and other executives to ensure that the Board of Directors are well informed.
  • Establishes and effectively manages industrial and academic collaborations, as well as internal/external partners.
  • Serve as a role model as a responsible and accountable “working” leader.
  • Act as an ambassador of Southern Research in the academic and scientific communities alongside or in place of the CEO or other peers within the organization
  • Celebrate victories within and across divisions/units of SR and foster a positive, collaborative culture.
  • Champion Southern Research's community engagement initiatives personally and create an environment where those reporting to you are also encouraged to do so.
  • Elevate Southern Research's brand and scientific reputation through public speaking engagements, scientific publications, and generation of whitepapers.


  • Data Strategy & Roadmap – Defining a clear data strategy and roadmap for the organization by understanding the needs and use cases of the stakeholders, driving alignment around prioritization, and ensuring execution of the roadmap
  • Data Standards & Governance – Operationalize data governance and management framework and approach across all data domains
  • Data Asset Creation & Management – Build and maintain core data assets supporting major analytics and insights use cases across the organization
    • Prioritize creation of Data Assets (both internally and externally sourced)
    • Automate high value Data pipelines
    • Assist in technical integration to support advanced models and analytics
  • Analytics & Modeling – Design and build high value Predictive Models for all key areas
    • Create Data Analytics solutions to business problems enabling increased competitiveness
  • Analytics Translation & Delivery – Communicate and lead implementation of Analytics Solutions in partnership with IT and research teams to ensure value capture
  • Thought leadership and innovation for data, analytics – Stay abreast of latest trends and innovation around data and analytics topics, and bring outside perspectives and new capabilities/startups to the organization as appropriate to deliver on business value


  • Comfortable with data engineering concepts, and capable of leading a data engineering team
  • Familiarity / experience with building enterprise data warehouses or data lakes
  • Comfort with the establishment of meaningful and measurable metrics and possession of the ability to create and manage teams in an environment that rewards innovation and outcomes
  • Zealous believer in the value of the translational research institute
  • Results-oriented collaborator that cares more about execution than credit
  • Strongly held conviction that inclusion and innovation go hand-in-hand
  • Demonstrated capacity to develop and execute with rigor and precision in highly uncertain, ambiguous climates
  • Superior ability to identify, retain or recruit, reward, and grow top performers
  • Adherent to the philosophy that the execution begins with hiring and positioning A-Players to be successful
  • Fired up when team members succeed
  • Derives professional satisfaction and personal fulfillment by empowering people and enabling team members to thrive
  • Trustworthy and capable of handling confidential information
  • Experience in recruiting in biotech and life sciences with a national network strongly preferred
  • Confidence, poise and gravitas to be the scientific “face” of SR in appropriate business or community settings
  • Familiarity with data mapping, semantic normalization, and aggregation of data from disparate sources
  • Comfort with building data platforms that enable client use cases
  • SR believe strongly that “getting it right is more important than being right.”

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:


  • The ability to create and articulate an inspiring vision for the organization, not only for the areas s/he is directly responsible for, but the enterprise as a whole.
  • The inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization's overall strategy.
  • An entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new, innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within the industry.
  • The ability to effectively balance the desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling, to create realistic goals and implementation plans that are achievable and successful.
  • Ability to co-develop strategy for a new business line, including financial and operational planning and forecasting.


  • The ability to set clear and challenging goals while committing the organization to improved performance; tenacious and accountable in driving results.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; the ability to adapt nimbly and lead others through complex situations.
  • A risk-taker who seeks data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended circumstances from decisions; someone who takes smart risks.
  • A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity and forethought in his/her approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always taking into account what is best for the organization.


  • The ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate the team, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity within the team, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others.
  • The ability to persevere in the face of challenges, and exhibit a steadfast resolve and relentless commitment to higher standards, which commands respect from followers.
  • A leader who is self-reflective and aware of his/her own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization's performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and self-improvement.


  • Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
  • An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in his/her beliefs, and active drive.
  • Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team.
  • Creates a sense of purpose/meaning for the team that generates followership beyond his/her own personality and engages others to the greater purpose for the organization as a whole.



MOVING SCIENCE. Our experts turn what couldn't be done into what we can't live without. By translating research into innovation, we act as catalysts that save lives and cultivate Birmingham's biotech scene. We are conduits between Science and Society. With precision, we transform ideas into discoveries. We see possibilities before they exist and activate scientific progress that is purposeful. We move science, because the promise of a brighter future moves us. We work with more than 150 industry and academic partners to drive scientific discoveries. From drug discovery to development, to carbon capture and environmental health sciences, every layer of our scientific and professional teams serve a fundamental role in moving science. We're making Birmingham the biotech hub of the southeast. Coming in 2024, our new biotech center will feature 60,000 sq. ft. of commercial wet labs, A/BSL-3 space and data science facilities. Our team will grow 125 scientific jobs and help shape the future of biotech in Alabama. We're investing in renovations of 40,000 sq. ft. of facilities including vivarium space and launching a new clinical diagnostics lab.

Find Us
(205) 581-2000
2000 9th Avenue South

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