University Research Council

March 20, 2003

Meeting Summary


The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program will focus more on the health sciences in the future than it has in the past.  A deadline for one research project has already passed, but researchers can still apply for approximately six more projects.  Deadlines for the latter projects vary.  Links to relevant information on the Program can be found on the Office of Research web site.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety is coordinating the University’s efforts to catalogue potentially dangerous toxins.  The Federal government requires universities to report which “select agents” are located at the university and which people have access to these agents.

The most recent lecture in the Office of Research’s Continuing Education Series was held on March 4.  The topic was sub-awards and subcontracts.  The Office can lend videotapes of the lecture to those who are interested.


Senior university research administrators met recently under the aegis of the Association of American Universities.  Some of the post-9/11 regulations and legislation are adversely affecting universities.  New restrictions on foreign students hinder their ability to enter the country and to conduct research.  Academic freedom may be restricted if definitions of sensitive material are altered.


Proposals to the Central Research and Development Fund, i.e., the Small Grants Program, have been submitted, and the Council now must assess them.  David Brienza will evaluate proposals from the health sciences; Phyllis Coontz will evaluate proposals from the social sciences and the humanities; and Frank Tabakin will evaluate proposals from the sciences and engineering.


Pennsylvania’s research universities – the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, and Pennsylvania State University – wish to create a state-wide research center that analyzes issues related to national preparedness.  Representatives from the four universities will meet at Penn State on April 28 to discuss this issue and to present related research.


Copyright Policy

Members of the subcommittee have commented on the draft policy.  The revised draft will be presented to the Council after the comments are incorporated into the policy.

Department of Energy

There are no new announcements

Proposal Workshop

The first grant-writing workshop, which will focus on the social sciences, will be held on April 16.  Four representatives from social science departments will discuss external funding opportunities, and a member of the English department will discuss technical writing.  A second grant-writing workshop, to be held on April 30, will focus on multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary grants.  Individuals from the University’s faculty, the NSF, and the NIH will speak.

Research Expertise

The Provost’s Office is encouraging members of the faculty to participate in the Community of Science database.  Deans of the Provost-area schools are working with the Provost’s Office to complete this task.

Social Science Funding

The federal agencies trip will be held on March 23-24.  Faculty from both Pitt and Duquesne University will meet with representatives of a number of federal agencies in Washington, D.C.  A workshop on funding in the social sciences will be held soon (see above).  The subcommittee is gathering information on trends in social science research at the University.


Several other issues were addressed:

·         The Council on Academic Computing and the Provost’s Office are sponsoring the High Performance Computing Initiative.  This Initiative encourages researchers at the University to use facilities at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

·         The Provost’s Office and the Technology Commercialization Alliance will host a “Cool Devices” showcase on April 16.  University researchers will discuss recent inventions and innovative research.