MD PhD Executive

Search Services

We are executive search professionals focused on recruiting MDs and PhDs for life sciences companies, diagnostic testing laboratories and hospitals. Our over 20 years of experience, refined search process, passion for fulfilling our Client’s needs, and demonstrated success mean we will effectively, efficiently, and economically recruit the best professional talent for your organization.

A man writing on the wall with words about success.

David L. Felker, PhD

San Diego, CA


David Felker has over 25 years of highly successful industry experience in R&D, Manufacturing Science and Technology, and Business Leadership roles. David started his career with DuPont in R&D and progressed over 13 years to the Senior Technology Leadership level with DuPont.

David was recruited from DuPont to Callaway Golf as one of the founding executives and first VP R&D of the Callaway Golf Ball Company. He later co-founded Aero-X Golf, Inc., was the inventor of the company’s revolutionary Polara anti-slice golf ball, and as the company grew held various roles including COB, CEO, CTO, and COO. David currently advises start-up companies and is the Co-Founder and Advisor to Cadi, Inc.

In 2001 David founded the award-winning retained search firm – Sanford Rose Associates - Del Mar, and for almost 10 years made executive-level placements in the Life Science industry. He grew to be one of the top search leaders in Sanford Rose Associates (SRA) International. In 2016 David returned to SRA as a Senior Vice President and Search Advisor. In 2023 he co-founded MD PhD Executive Search with Susan Little, and continues to be Principal for The Carter Group of SRA. 

From direct experience, David understands the challenges faced by senior executives and board members, and he knows it is critical that companies hire the best people. This strong belief drives David’s actions on every search assignment.

David holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. As an inventor, he has +20 patents. David resides in the San Diego, CA area.

Susan C. Little, JD

Whitefish, MT


Susan Little is Partner and Co-Founder of MD PhD Executive Search, and a Senior Executive Search Consultant with The Carter Group of Sanford Rose Associates.

Susan began her professional career in 1986 as a JAG Officer in the US Air Force, then transitioned to running her private Law Practice for nearly 8 years before becoming a Sr. Attorney for the State of Florida for nearly 6 years. 

Susan joined Sanford Rose Associates - Del Mar in 2003 as a Senior Executive Search Consultant, successfully recruiting Director and VP level roles in R&D and Clinical Development in the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries.  

Susan brings her clients and candidates a wealth of knowledge and experience from many years of recruiting medical and scientific professionals for life sciences companies and diagnostic laboratories, as well as 18 years of legal experience that included representing employers and employees in employment related litigation. 

Susan holds a JD in Law from The University of Tulsa College of Law and a BS in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She resides in the Whitefish, MT area.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have over 20 years of experience & industry knowledge. We do not delegate to junior associates the important tasks of interviewing candidates, interacting with Clients, or any other critical tasks. Our fees are based on achieving performance milestones; they are not time-based. We work for a limited number of companies in each industry niche, thus, we have very few hands-off agreements that would prevent us from recruiting from your competitors.

We average 75 days from the kick-off meeting to the candidate accepting the offer.

A: Within 2-3 weeks, we present the first slate of fully interviewed/vetted candidates that meet your position requirements.

We do not take on a search assignment until we are confident we will be successful. Initially, this means the assignment must be in our area of expertise. Then, we discuss the various needs and dimensions of the position and company with the hiring manager and others responsible for making the hiring decision – from this meeting, we then prepare a Position Profile document that mirrors exactly what your need is. The Position Profile contains the details of the position responsibilities, position requirements, company overview, etc., and is the key document that is approved by the company before the decision is made to engage our services.

MDs and PhDs engaged in efforts to discover and bring therapies or diagnostics to market, or to provide diagnostic services to physicians looking to make treatment recommendations.

We look for alignment with the company’s culture & values. We evaluate a candidate’s leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. We confirm the candidate and his/her family is ready and able to make a geographical move (when required).

Yes, we do a very thorough discussion with the most appropriate candidate references, which are not always the references the candidate first offers. The reference check discussion generally takes 30-60 minutes per reference and all reference discussions are summarized in a multipage Q&A document so the hiring manager can compare and contrast people’s answers to a specific list of pertinent questions.

We guarantee the candidate will remain in the position for at least 6 months. During the 6-month guarantee period, if the candidate leaves on his/her own or is let go for poor performance, we will recruit a replacement candidate at no extra cost.

No, we do not post positions online or elsewhere because the people who most often respond are not qualified. Instead, we develop a list of candidates we know or believe are qualified for the position. We then reach out to them and determine their interest, qualifications, etc. We find the best candidates are those that are actively employed, top performers, and happy where they are at, but are willing to explore a new opportunity that is compelling to them in one aspect or another.

Our fees are based on the achievement of specific milestones. The initial milestone fee is due after the Position Profile has been agreed upon. The 2nd milestone fee is due once a client agrees to interview (via phone or in person) at least 2 candidates or decides to make an offer to a candidate. The final fee (total engagement fee minus the milestone payments made) is due 30 days after the candidate has begun employment. The total fee is the percentage of base salary and bonus paid for the first year of employment and depends on the level of position being recruited and the engagement history with your company.