University of Pittsburgh

University Research Council (URC)

2000-2001 Activities Report



On November 2, 2000, Provost James Maher delivered his charge to Council.  He asked the URC to:

1.     Continue the Small Grants Program.

2.     Explore ways to enhance research on campus through workshops.

3.     Guide the Vice Provost in preparing a workshop in Washington, DC targeting social science faculty members.

4.     Review and update policies -- Commercialization of Inventions, Copyright, and Patent.



Central Research Development Fund (CRDF)/Small Grants Program


The University Research Council and the Office of Research administer the Small Grants Program.  The primary goal of this annual program is to enhance opportunities for faculty, especially junior faculty, at the University of Pittsburgh to engage in high-quality research, scholarship, and creative endeavors.  Small Grants are intended to provide seed funding and support in areas where external funding is extremely limited.




Proposals received review from one of three subcommittees:  Science and Engineering, Health Sciences, or Social Sciences and Humanities.  Junior-level faculty proposals were generally given preference, except in the social sciences and humanities where funding sources are more limited.  The Science and Engineering subcommittee received a total of 22 proposals.  The Health Sciences subcommittee received 18 proposals.  The Social Sciences and Humanities subcommittee received 19 proposals for a total of 59 submissions to the program – a 20% increase in submissions over last year.  Thirty-two of this year’s proposals were funded yielding a 54% funding rate (one proposal was still pending IRB review as of the report date).


This year, over $350,000 was awarded to promising projects as part of the small grants program.  Twelve schools were represented in the distribution including UPB and UPJ.  Individual awards ranged from $2,600 to the set maximum of $16,000.



In addition to its annual commission of the Small Grants Program, the URC worked to address specific items cited in the charge to the committee.




The Winning Multidisciplinary Team


On March 13, 2001, Robert Lowman, Associate Vice Provost for Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, delivered a presentation to University of Pittsburgh faculty regarding multidisciplinary teams.  Topics of discussion included team building, developing common goals, selecting the principal investigator, working out power relationships, and planning and writing grant proposals.


Federal Agency Briefing for Faculty in the Social Sciences and Humanities


On March 19, 2001, Twenty-nine members of the University community attended briefing sessions with representatives from NSF; NIH; the World Bank; the Health Resources and Services Administration; the EPA; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; USAID; the Agency for Healthcare, Research, and Quality; the Department of Educational Research and Improvement; and the Department of Education.


Successful University Researchers Workshop


On May 4, 2001, a panel of faculty members shared their strategies for development of successful research programs.  German Barrionuevo, Eric Beckman, Lewis Kuller, and Katheryn Linduff provided tips to approximately fifteen workshop participants.  The workshop was recorded and is available on videotape.  The Office of the Provost plans to distribute this videotape and another on proposal writing to new faculty as part of the New Faculty Orientation.


Foundation Grant Writing Workshop for Faculty and Staff


Jane Hansberry, a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, offered insights into submitting award winning proposals to foundations and nonprofit institutions at a workshop held on June 12, 2001.  She defined eight steps to a successful grant award.  This workshop was videotaped and is available from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.



Policy Review


Policy 11-02-01 -- Patent Policy


A subcommittee, consisting of Eric Beckman, Patricia Dowling, Steven Husted, Mary Marazita, and Raman Venkataramanan, was formed to develop a revision to the policy.  The most recent draft provides the Office of Technology Management (OTM) with sufficient funds from patent proceeds to support the Office as well as cover legal costs for investigating and developing patents.  Comments from OTM regarding the policy change are currently being structured based on a white paper they are developing.  It is anticipated that the revised policy will be ready to present to the University Senate in the coming year.


Policy 11-02-02 -- Copyright Policy


A subcommittee was formed to consider an update of the copyright policy.  The group, consisting of Kevin Ashley, Frances Connell, Steven Husted, Rush Miller, and Paul Supowitz, recommended changes to the existing policy.  A revision is currently under construction.


Policy 11-02-03 -- Commercialization of Inventions through Independent Companies


This year, Theresa Collechia, Patricia Dowling, Susan Sereika, Richard Steinman, and Dennis Swanson joined Mohammed Ataai, Russell Salter, and Jack Yalowich in study of the policy.  The subcommittee’s revisions were approved at the April 12, 2001 meeting of Council.  The policy will now be routed through the remainder of the approval process including the Council of Deans and the University Senate.



Information/Education Sessions


Several visitors were invited to make presentations to Council.


Joseph Newsome, Director of the Division of Laboratory Animal Resources (DLAR), described the status and responsibilities of the DLAR.


John Elliott, Director of Internal Audit, and Mark Stofko, Director of Research and Cost Accounting, presented information to Council regarding allowable research expenditures.  Elliott went over a short quiz on allowable costs, which generated much thought and discussion.


Jerome Rosenberg, Research Integrity Officer, provided an overview of online education modules and policy on instruction in the responsible conduct of research.


Stephen Phillips, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, supplied Council with a schedule of events and an overview of activities planned for University of Pittsburgh Science 2001.


At each meeting of Council, Michael Crouch delivered regular reports on Office of Research activities and the national funding climate. 



2000-2001 URC Members


Kevin Ashley



Mohammad Ataai


German Barrionuevo


Eric Beckman

Engineering (representing the University Senate)

John Beuthin


David Brienza


Phyllis Coontz


Patricia Dowling

FAS/Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry (representing the University Senate)

Amro El-Jaroudi


Steven Husted


Suzanne Lane


Irving Lowe

FAS/Physics & Astronomy

Mary Marazita

Dental Medicine

Roberta Ness


Assad Panah


John Prescott


Evelyn Rawski


Russell Salter


Susan Sereika

Nursing (substituting for Mary Kerr who was on sabbatical)

Richard Steinman


Frank Tabakin

FAS/Physics & Astronomy

David Tipper


Raman Venkataramanan


Jack Yalowich



Chair:          George E. Klinzing, Vice Provost for Research

Ex Officio:    Michael Crouch, Director, Office of Research

Observer:    Thalia Jones, Office of the Provost


Guests:       John Elliott, Internal Audit

Joseph Newsome, Division of Laboratory Animal Resources

Stephen Phillips, Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry

Jerome Rosenberg, Office of Research Integrity

Mark Stofko, Research and Cost Accounting