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Extramural research funding reaches new high

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
In the two years that Stephen M. Lanier, Ph.D., has served as associate provost for research, his leadership and focus has helped draw record-breaking extramural funding amid a period of public funding uncertainty for research.

Lanier, who in 2006 was recruited away from Louisiana State University, leads MUSC’s research activities, which have become one of the Southeast’s fastest growing academic research programs.

In fiscal year (FY) 2007, MUSC was awarded a record-breaking $193.4 million in extramural research funding—up from $189.4 million in FY 2006. This increase underscores MUSC’s continued growth in extramural funding, consistent since 1998, which was considered a signature mark for MUSC. Lanier believes these achievements in attracting that kind of funding places MUSC in a distinct category among top quality academic research programs across the country.
Notably, National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in FY 2007 ($93 million) actually increased by 11 percent more than the previous year. This set an MUSC record in NIH funding receipts. The majority of the  funding increases was due to R01 research project grants.
Meanwhile, the levels of corporate funding also reached a new high of $34 million.

Growth through recruitment, quality space
Sustaining tremendous growth in research programs at MUSC requires developing, retaining and recruiting top-notch scientists.
According to Lanier, one of the biggest challenges in moving forward will be sustaining MUSC’s rate of growth in the face of increased budgetary pressure on federal funding for research. Program growth will require new high quality space, increased research operations support, regional collaborations and diversification of the research funding portfolio. The first challenge addressed was the campus’ critical need for research space. The campus met this challenge with the opening of the Darby Children’s Research Institute in 2005, then with the renovation of the Hollings Cancer Center in 2007. Next, the Drug Discovery Building, projected to add  about 100,000 square feet, and the adjacent Bioengineering Building will add about 90,000 square feet of space when they are scheduled for completion in 2010. Both of these facilities adds new, interdisciplinary research laboratories.
To complement MUSC’s growing research infrastructure, the Office of the Associate Provost of Research (OAPR) also is managing the completion of a Biosafety (BSL) Level 3 lab, which is slated to open in mid-2008 for enhanced biosafety operations. Other special research resources coming aboard include a number of first-class imaging technologies and a parallel computer cluster that will ramp up computational power for researchers.
  A second challenge involves building an expanded research operations support foundation to sustain current programs and empower the next phase of growth for the university.
In addition, Lanier has recruited new leadership and staff in several areas of the research support team to support research on campus.
“This is a tremendously talented and dedicated team and we are very fortunate to have such a committed group of people,” Lanier said.
Providing a seamless support infrastructure
Lanier and his team made it a priority to significantly enhance research support operations by stabilizing and expanding current systems with the goal of creating a seamless research support infrastructure.
Examples of such steps include the grant submission process and blue sheet proposal enhancement initiatives from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Darren McCants led the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs team in implementing the Cayuse software system for online submission of grant applications to the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Other enhancements include coordination of an on-line applications process for the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Registration and Continuing Reviews of protocols by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) supporting the Office of Research Integrity. Introducing a Web-based IBC registration incorporates many features to assist staff in registration as well as providing mechanisms for renewal and administrative oversight.
Another component of the informatics infrastructure introduced to the research community is the Space Allocation Management (SAM) program developed by Michelle Adelson, systems analyst with MUSC’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and Thomas Higerd, Ph.D., associate provost for institutional research and assessment. The program consolidates and enhances multiple existing physical academic space tracking systems into one, providing users with an easily accessible application to view and update space occupants and usage change. SAM will soon link to other research administration systems associated with grant award and expenditure data to support research productivity analysis and reporting. 
Complementing this system is the adaptation of the Horizon Business Insight (HBI) software platform for research administration. The HBI system allows users to view and organize research funding data and financial expenditures in a variety of ways from individual investigators to departments, centers and colleges. SAM and HBI are part of a larger “dashboard” system being developed to provide a central site information management tool for researchers and administrators alike.
“The enhancement of this ‘information flow’ process has been crucial to the first phase of strengthening our research operations support,” Lanier said. “I am greatly appreciative of all the energy that the research informatics project team and our broader team have brought to these initiatives. We have significant work ahead of us but there is a strong foundation to move forward.”
The Research Informatics project team is also working with several clinical trials programs on campus to address some operational needs for information flow. This expands into a broader area of information technology needs related to electronic medical records and the ability to de-identify these records, facilitating a variety of clinical and translational research initiatives as part of the Southeastern Clinical and Translational Research Institute (
The Office of Research Development continues to be a critical underpinning of research growth on campus with a number of expanded services to help investigators be successful with their research programs. They are currently developing a research orientation platform to help new investigators with project development as part of their new faculty orientation.

Other milestones
OAPR also has completed a review of research-related programs for disaster preparedness on campus; initiated review of the university research resource facilities and budgets with the goal of centralizing some of the services; and initiated the accreditation process of the Association for Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs.
“There is some tremendously exciting science happening at MUSC and there is a true sense of commitment and mission among the faculty and the staff that support the research community,” Lanier said. “This core underpinning, together with strong, respected leadership and our ability to attract the brightest students and leaders to Charleston, presents MUSC with an unprecedented opportunity for nurturing the art of discovery and to make even greater contributions to the health and well-being of the broader community.”

Office of the Associate Provost for Research and reporting offices
Research Development: Peggy Schachte, director; Research Operations Administrations: Leslie Kendall, director; Research and Sponsored Programs : Darren McCants, director;  Research Integrity: Robert Malcolm, M.D., director; Scientific Editing and Publications: Jennifer Schnellmann, Ph.D., director; Special Projects: Lynn M. Veatch, Ph.D., and Loretta Lynch-Reichert; Administrative coordinator: Robin Hanckel; Grants and Contracts Accounting: Velma Stamp; Foundation for Research Development: William C. Hood, J.D.; Division of Laboratory Animal Resources: Michael Swindle, DVM; Risk Management: Wayne Brannan; and Assistant Provost for Technology Transfer and Corporate Relations: Mark S. Kindy, Ph.D.
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Friday, Feb. 29, 2008
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