Research Lead — Capacity Building

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    Fixed Term Appointment
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    UTC +8

    About United Nations University

    The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

    For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals’ full breadth, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

    About United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH)

    UNU-IIGH is one of 14 research and training institutes that comprise the UNU system. UNU-IIGH was established in 2007 to advance evidence-based policy on key issues related to sustainable development and global health. UNU-IIGH aims to build knowledge and capacity in global health for decision making by UN agencies, UN programmes and Member states towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The aim is to contribute to the development and strengthening of health policy frameworks and management actions, particularly for people in developing countries, and support the implementation of promotive and preventive approaches to human health. The UNU-IIGH’s research and capacity building in global health relates specifically to informing the policy debates and directions that ensure that in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that “no one is left behind”.

    As a neutral convener and leveraging its position within the UN, UNU-IIGH works with a network of academic, policy, and civil society experts to serve as a platform for critical thinking and exchange of knowledge and tools for policy influence.

    Research Leads at UNU-IIGH are expected to develop and lead programmes of research and capacity building, focusing on generating knowledge and informing critical policy debates across UN agencies and member states.

    The position

    UNU-IIGH seeks to appoint a Research Lead to continue a programme of work on “capacity strengthening for local decision making”, building on the core programming that is currently focused on implementation research and health systems research.

    Despite the ever-growing suite of health interventions and technologies (for disease control, addressing gender equity, for improving access to effective health systems, enhancing primary health care and community engagement, etc.) demonstration of desired impact remains limited. UNU-IIGH has built a network of strategic partnerships to support research capacity, particularly in low- and middle-income settings where health systems often lack established mechanisms for high quality data collection, analytics, and translation, and the multidisciplinary capacity to engage with challenges using intersectional analyses.

    The UNU-IIGH capacity strengthening programme engages with partners and key stakeholders, including in Malaysia, across academic, civil society, government and policy making communities, to develop training materials, conduct workshops, and develop knowledge products to promote the use of evidence within the policy making process. Critically, the programme promotes perspectives from the “Global South” and is oriented towards addressing implementation challenges related to gender and intersecting inequalities.


    Under the leadership of the Director, the Research Lead will:

    • lead and further develop the capacity strengthening portfolio, oriented towards government, civil society, and university partners
    • lead the workstream on developing flagship courses and creating demand-driven training materials responsive to researchers and policy makers in low- and middle-income settings
    • strengthen strategic partnerships with UN agency partners and mobilise external resources for the activities of the programme
    • manage research projects with external researchers and partners
    • carry out teaching, training and supervision within the capacity building programmes of the Institute, including direct supervision of interns, junior researchers, PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows
    • build on ongoing partnerships and collaborations and create new opportunities for collaborations within the institute related to training, research, and evidence dissemination within the UNU-IIGH strategic plan
    • contribute effectively to other pillars of work
    • participate in local and international research, policy, and outreach events
    • oversee the preparation and implementation of relevant conferences, communications, and meeting activities within the remit of UNU-IIGH
    • produce research and management reports and the publication of policy-relevant research outputs
    • engage with members of the UN Country Team and other regional agencies in providing support towards the achievement of the SDGs
    • prepare and present seminars for specialist and non-specialist audiences
    • perform other tasks as assigned by the Director

    Required qualifications and experience

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • a PhD in public health, political science, policy analysis, or a related field
    • a minimum of 10 years of progressively senior professional work experience, including the management of research and/or training programmes
    • exceptional partnership building, coordination, and management skills
    • demonstrated ability to develop and carry out capacity strengthening activities in an international environment
    • demonstrated ability to develop and deliver high quality products to external partners, particularly across the UN agencies
    • evidence of academic and peer-reviewed publications related to the programme area outlined above
    • demonstrated track record in international research and training in areas related to the Institute’s research programme including implementation research
    • excellent verbal and written skills in English across a range of communication formats (academic publications, programme reports, policy briefs); knowledge of other official UN languages would be an asset
    • strong track record of resource mobilisation from international funding agencies
    • excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity


    UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan, and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel, and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy.

    The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

    Duration of contract

    This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of fixed-term appointments not exceeding six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.

    Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector’s authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University.

    UNU-IIGH is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are encouraged to apply.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

    Starting date

    1 October 2021.

  • Interested applicants should submit their applications online to and must upload the following:

    • a cover letter setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • a full CV with a list of publications

    Candidates will be contacted only if they are under serious consideration. A written test and/or interview will be held for this position.