University Research Council

April 12, 2006

Meeting Summary


Central Research Development Fund

Thirty-eight individuals applied for funding from the Central Research Development Fund.  Applications were evaluated by one of three Council subcommittees, whose members specialize in the health sciences, the sciences and engineering, and the humanities and the social sciences.  Eight of the 19 applications from health science fields were funded, seven of the eight applications from the science and engineering fields were funded, and 10 of the 11 applications from social science and humanities fields were funded.

Members of the Council discussed procedures for evaluating CRDF proposals.  Two members of a subcommittee usually will evaluate each proposal, but a third person may read a proposal if the initial reviewers disagree.  Ad hoc reviewers may be utilized if additional expertise is required to evaluate proposals or if the subcommittee receives too many applications.  The subcommittee meets to discuss the proposals after the reviews are completed.  Proposals are then ranked numerically within three categories.

Members of the Council also discussed how to simplify the proposal-evaluation process.  They previously have suggested that CRDF proposals be submitted, distributed, and reviewed electronically.  Tony Polley, a member of the CSSD staff, attended the meeting and discussed some of the available options.  The three subcommittee chairs and staff in the Office of Research will work with Tony to create electronic submission and review processes for the CRDF. 

Tulane University and Hurricane Katrina

The effect of Hurricane Katrina upon Tulane University is an excellent case study of the problems associated with catastrophic situations:

  • Almost all records – both electronic and paper – were destroyed because they were stored in the affected area.
  • Post-Katrina communication among and between administration, faculty, and students was virtually nonexistent.
  • Clinical trials, animal-based studies, and other experimental studies were affected due to the loss of human test subjects, animal populations, and university infrastructure respectively.

Other universities offered space and housing to affected researchers and students.  The federal government relaxed many grant reporting requirements.  The University of Pittsburgh’s Environmental Health and Safety Committee is examining how large-scale disasters would affect the University.

Report from the Office of Research

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research, discussed the NIH’s eRA Commons and the federal government’s Grants.gov programs:

  • The NIH will no longer require a principal investigator’s signature as part of the application or reporting process.  The NIH will require the investigator’s organization to secure and retain the required written assurances at the institutional level.
  • Proposals submitted to the NIH will be delivered to the relevant officials by default if all information on the proposal is correct.  Previously, the principal investigator had been required to verify electronically the information even when no errors were found.
  • The Office of Research offers a training program that teaches faculty and staff how to utilize the Grants.gov system.  The Office sponsors an open forum on the system each month.  Departments and schools can request more targeted training.

Miscellaneous

Other topics of discussion included:

  • The multidisciplinary small grant program
  • The copyright policy