University Research Council

December 5, 2007

Meeting Summary


Report from the Office of Research

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research, discussed the University’s internal grants management program.   The Office of Research was charged three years ago with developing an electronic, cradle-to-grave proposal development process (known as Electronic Research Administration or eRA).  The Office selected InfoEd from several potential providers and purchased two modules – a proposal tracking module and a proposal development module. 

The proposal tracking module allows Office of Research staff to record, track, and report on research in a manner that reflects how research is actually conducted at a major research institution. Proposal tracking will replace legacy systems and allow tracking of entire projects instead of individual funding increments.  Eventually, proposal tracking will be interfaced with several other University databases to allow for greatly enhanced reporting and administration.  The module currently is operational.

The proposal development module allows for the creation, review, and submission of grant applications and contracts via a powerful web interface. This module will enable investigators to electronically route a proposal through the University's internal signature process and will ultimately allow them to submit the proposal electronically to the sponsoring agency.  The Office of Research currently is testing the module in select departments.

NIH Funding

Council Members discussed the increasing competition for NIH grants.  From 2001 to 2006, funding rates for all grant proposals decreased from 32 percent to 20 percent, while funding rates for newly submitted R01 grant proposals decreased from 26 percent to 16 percent.  Heightened competition may negatively affect new investigators in the health and biological sciences due to these investigators’ reliance on NIH funding for support.

Transformative Research Programs

Council Members discussed NSF and NIH transformative research programs.  Transformative research is defined as research driven by ideas that have the potential to radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or lead to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science or engineering.  The NIH fosters transformative research through the NIH Roadmap Initiative, and the National Science Board, the NSF’s governing body, approved a motion to enhance support of transformative research at the NSF.

Miscellaneous

Council members also discussed: