Essential is a new non-profit unrelentingly committed to solving the problem of malnutrition. Essential was founded on the belief that advances in the sciences hold potential to transform the most important
global problems. We identify scientific inflection points, conduct further R&D to solve the problems we care about, and translate this work into high-impact scalable solutions. We are a passionate and fastpaced team focused on generating breakthrough solutions for the world’s poor. We have a presence in San Francisco and Nairobi.
We believe that we can leverage the underlying science from the alt-protein space to generate affordable and accessible high-quality proteins in low- and middle-income countries to tackle malnutrition. Our goal is to use synthetic biology and fermentation technology to create proteins that can be integrated into products sold directly to customers to prevent malnutrition. We are searching for a Chief Scientific Officer to lead R&D and make this vision a reality.
Our Chief Scientific Officer will define and manage all of Essential’s technical work, oversee its R&D capabilities, and help build this new venture from the ground up. The CSO will be an expert in synthetic
biology, with relevant experience in fermentation and strain optimization. This role will drive a bold and ambitious technical agenda and help unlock scientific breakthroughs that radically reduce malnutrition.
This role will marry scientific depth and rigor with a fast-paced entrepreneurial approach to problem solving and producing tangible results. The Chief Scientific Officer will be a crucial member Essential’s
executive team and will report to the CEO.
This role is remote with travel up to 30% of the time to Nairobi, Cape Town or Kigali if you are not based there. We offer competitive salary and benefits.
Roles & Responsibilities
• Lead the design, development and execution of the technical roadmap that uses fermentation to develop high-quality proteins in Sub-Saharan Africa
• Design and lead our process to identify and optimize microbial strains for protein production, including defining outcome metrics and experimental processes for strain and feedstock selection
• Build and manage a R&D team that oversees the full pipeline of science from bench-top research to process development and scale up for protein production as Essential grows
• Identify and analyze key early-stage decisions on fermentation approach that maximizes for impact, cost, scalability, and feasibility
• Collaborate with the COO, when in place, to support the design and development of fermentationbased production process from laboratory to scaled manufacturing
• Provide accurate and clear reports on R&D activities and ensure data-driven decision-making in fermentation process design
• Clearly communicate results and findings, strategic frameworks, and technical roadmaps
• Create agile systems and processes to run and scale Essential’s R&D processes and capabilities
• Develop and oversee partnerships with key academic partners, research institutes, and solution providers
• Work closely with executive team to drive decision-making on key strategic issues for Essential
• Flex into additional roles and responsibilities as we build Essential to help drive towards our vision
You might be interested in this role if you’re excited about
• Leveraging frontier science to help solve the world’s biggest problems
• Figuring out how to use synthetic biology and fermentation to tackle malnutrition, one of the most important global health problems of our time
• Rolling up your sleeves and operationalizing scientific work in low- and middle-income countries
• Building a new mission-driven organization
• Wearing multiple hats or taking on multiple roles, and creating new ones from scratch when needed
• Flexibly responding to new information to pursue impact for the people we aim to serve
• Creating an inclusive and equitable environment
Skills & Experience
• Advanced degree in microbiology, biochemistry, biochemical engineering, or related discipline
• Experience working in food, biotech, or life sciences industry
• Scientific leader with experience conducting cutting-edge research and converting it into actionable solutions
• Familiarity with strain identification and optimization using both traditional methods and gene editing methods
• Entrepreneurial attitude and approach and an orientation towards getting things done
• Keen sense of how to think about key strategic decisions and tradeoffs in a startup environment
• Excellent communication skills with the ability to manage internal and external partners and stakeholders
• Team player with great people skills and the cultural competency to work on a global team
Not required, but exceptional candidates would also have
• Experience conducting R&D in low- and middle-income settings and an obsession with driving costs down to help the world’s poor
• Experience working on synthetic biology and fermentation technology in industry; experience in start-ups a particular plus
• Experience in the non-profit or public sector
Send a copy of your CV and a few lines about why this position interests you to
More on Essential:
Essential is a new non-profit that leverages advances in basic science to create a future in which no woman or child is malnourished. We are audacious in our vision, ambitious in our thinking, and rigorous and humble in our approach. We are driven by impact, cost-effectiveness, and scale. We are motivated by the urgency of the problem, and we bring a good dose of joy to our work.
Essential was founded by Grant Gordon, who brings 15 years of experience developing new innovations in low- and middle-income countries. He was most recently the Senior Director for Innovation Strategy at the International Rescue Committee, where he supported a 50+ person R&D team. Grant has worked in leadership positions at the UN and has extensive experience building high-performing teams across Sub-Saharan Africa. He has a PhD in political science with a focus in applied statistics.
Grant serves as the CEO and has secured early-stage funding to launch Essential, as well as the backing of several senior advisors. Founded in early 2022, Essential is filling key positions and growing the team
over 2022 and 2023.