Monthly Update – April 2022

Cases in Los Angeles County continue to rise; however, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain relatively low. At USC, many protocols (including masking) are optional in most settings. Masking is still required in healthcare and public transportation settings. Researchers should consult with their PI to ensure that masking is not required based on the specific hazards in their laboratory. Finally, additional COVID-19 protocols are still in place for USC sponsored travel including overnight stays. For questions, contact EH&S at ehs@usc.edu.

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: On March 4, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom, issued Executive Order (EO) N-6-22 regarding Sanctions against Russia. The letter notifies all contractors and grantees, subject to the Governor’s authority, of their obligation to comply with existing economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. government in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, as well as any sanctions imposed under state law. Failure to comply may result in the termination of contracts or grants, as applicable.

R&D Proposals: I am happy to report we received eight proposals for the Office of Research’s “Research & Development (R&D) Priorities Award.”  FY23 awardees of all Office of Research Grant Programs will be announced no later than June. 

Mentoring and Training Workshops: For Fall 2022: The Center for Excellence in Research welcomes faculty and staff to lead a virtual research workshop on topics including research collaboration, funding, data management, promoting research, professional development, research resources/methods, grant writing, etc. Please submit a brief proposal by July 8, 2021.

If you’d like to be updated about upcoming workshops, join our mailing list. Do you have an idea for a CER workshop? We’d love to hear from you!

FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: NSF has established the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) to advance use-inspired and translational research in all fields of science and engineering.  NSF also released its Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), see more details here. The Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences program is planning to establish Energy Earthshot Research Centers, a new large-scale funding opportunity expected in FY23. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a new report titled The Future of Education Research at IES: Advancing an Equity-Oriented Science, available here .

OPRS/IRB: As we head into the final days of the term, assignment to an IRB analyst for new expedited and exempt studies continues to hold steady at 2 weeks. A recent analysis of new expedited and exempt application data revealed that the IRB regularly experiences surges in applications in both the first and third quarters of the year. This is not surprising as the quarters map onto the Fall and Spring semesters. What it also demonstrates is that there are fewer submissions during the summer months and at the end of the year. Please do not hesitate to encourage faculty to take advantage of these lower submission periods and to avoid the higher submission windows. Spreading out submissions across the calendar year can help us keep our review times to a minimum. 

STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: At the 2015 USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase, the Athelas team led by Viterbi student Deepika Bodapati won the USC Stevens Transformational Innovation Award – the de facto “best in show” award. On April 21, 2022, Athelas announced that its flagship device, the Athelas Home, has been cleared by the FDA for home-use indication. From a small volume of blood, the Athelas Home measures white blood cells and neutrophil percentages remotely within a patient’s home or other near-patient setting. The system also has the ability to flag the presence of blast cells, immature cells, and other abnormal cell types often found in liquid tumors. Athelas currently serves over 40,000 patients across thousands of healthcare providers and is the largest provider of remote patient monitoring services in the country. Earlier this year the company was valued at $1.5 billion.

CONTRACTS & GRANTS: The Department of Contracts and Grants is happy to announce a new DCG Officer! Maribel Estrada is a new DCG Federal Officer supporting the Viterbi faculty and research administrators. She comes to us from Dornsife where she previously managed proposals and awards for The Center for Economic and Social Research.  We are also happy to announce a streamlined process to add Sponsors and/or Subrecipients to the Kuali Coeus and Cayuse 424 systems. An updated Sponsor and Subaward Request Form can be found at sponsorrequests.usc.edu.  Proposal preparers can simply complete the form and DCG will promptly add the entity to the system.  Once added, an automated email will be sent to the requestor. 

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: The Animal Operations System is live and in use. All animal orders, transfers, imports, exports, billing, and service requests can be performed on aops.usc.edu. A guidance document can be found on the website under Help and training videos can be found on dar.usc.edu.

Our department is initiating a program to assess customer relations. If the lab requests services from DAR, you may receive an email linked to a Qualtrics customer service survey. Your responses will allow our department to calibrate services to your needs. 

The IACUC office staff have physically moved out of CHP 234. Only DAR personnel are in this office now. For more information on location and contact information, contact the IACUC office. 

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: As temperatures begin to rise for summer, EH&S is pleased to announce a new online Heat Illness Prevention Training available immediately via Trojan Learn. Did you know that Heat Illness can also affect those who work indoors? According to OSHA, thousands of individuals are affected by heat-related illnesses each year. Whether working indoors or outdoors, heat-related issues are preventable if supervisors and their employees take the required precautions.