Major improvements in research infrastructure move Health System forward
The Medical School’s researchers earned more than $366 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding in federal fiscal year 2009, which puts the School at 8th overall in NIH grants and 3rd among medical schools affiliated with public universities.
A growing and successful research enterprise is a critical component of being a leading health system. That’s why the groups that provide support services to researchers have focused so hard in recent months on improving almost every aspect of what they do.
“‘We focus on you, so you can focus on great science’ – that’s our message to researchers and we have an incredible team delivering services every day,”says Teri Grieb, Ph.D., Senior Director, Medical School Office of Research. “We’ve made great strides in expanding the services and improving the effectiveness of our research infrastructure to support all forms of research.”
Some of those recent improvements include:
- Creating additional resources for researchers (such as web-based proposal development tools);
- Reducing most hospital and professional clinical research fees by 80%;
- Improving customer service for investigators;
- Creating a new Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Team to accelerate the movement of medical innovations to marketplace;
- Changing how animal care costs are handled for externally funded projects so they are treated similar to other direct costs and charged the same rate as the proposal’s indirect costs; and
- Conducting a comprehensive operational review and developing a capital plan for the biomedical research core facilities
Renewed Focus on Clinical and Translational Research
Grieb, who also serves as managing director of the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), adds that clinical and translational research also occupy a central role in the Medical School’s vision to create the future of medicine from discovery to application.
Earlier this year, MICHR led a strategic assessment of the clinical research enterprise (SACRE) that identified several key areas to be addressed.
“Assessments have been done before with little follow-up action,” says Grieb. “We are already taking action on the SACRE recommendations.”
Plans are now under way to:
- Expedite the study approval process
- Double patient participation in clinical studies over the next five years
- Develop a virtual home for study coordinators to enhance their skills and professional development
- Create a clinical research support unit designed to serve teams across the clinical and translational research spectrum
- Complete a demonstration project with the Division of Research Development & Administration (DRDA) to speed the contract development and regulatory approval process
- Improve the clinical research technology infrastructure
Several steps have already been taken to improve clinical and translational research support, including:
- Creating a bio-repository to provide a centralized specimen storage and processing environment;
- Uniting several research support units at the North Campus Research Complex (including MICHR, the Institutional Review Board (IRBMED), the clinical research Calendar Review and Analysis Office, the Office of Research Administration, and the Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office); and
- Contracting with eThority to provide software for creating more timely and accurate study budgets and billing calendars.
“We greatly appreciate the ongoing hard work from so many teams and departments as part of this coordinated effort to create the future of medicine at U-M,” says Grieb.