Monthly Update – March 2022

As of March 7, 2022, indoor masking is strongly recommended, but not required, for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to protect them against COVID-19. Masking is still required in some areas such as healthcare and public transportation. Researchers should consult with their PI to ensure that masking is not required based on the specific hazards in their laboratory settings.

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: Reminder: New deadline! The deadline for the USC seed grant R&D Research Priorities Award has been extended to April 18th, 2022.  This grant provides seed funding for interdisciplinary collaborative research activities involving groups of faculty from multiple schools who are preparing a proposal for an externally funded grant in areas of R&D priorities outlined by the federal government. Eligible areas of research for this award cycle are “Energy Transition” and “Blue technology.” For questions regarding this funding opportunity, please contact orif@usc.edu.

Mentoring and Training Workshops: If you are planning on submitting a Research Traineeship proposal to the NSF, or simply would like to learn more about the program, this is your opportunity to meet Dr. Vinod Lohani, Director of the NSF’s Division of Graduate Education. Dr. Lohani’s talk “NSF NRT Program: Dos and Don’ts” on April 11th, noon-1pm (via zoom) will be followed by a Q&A session. Spring 2022 virtual CER workshops for April also include: Designing and Writing a Successful NSF Broader Impacts, Let’s Get (ex)CITED! Increase Your Research Impact with Open Access Publishing, Systematic Reviews and USC Libraries Support and Developing Successful Proposals for Large Scale Funding Opportunities. Register here. 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: A bill signed by POTUS provides a total of $45 billion for NIH, an increase of $2.25 billion above the previous year. The bill also includes $1 billion to establish ARPA-H within the HHS Office of the Secretary to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.

OPRS/IRB: As a result of the extraordinarily hard work of the IRB staff, the current wait time for assignment to an analyst for new exempt and expedited studies is 2 weeks. While we are extraordinarily proud of this accomplishment, we recognize that it is unlikely to be sustainable. The IRB staff has been working hard and implementing a new approach to assigning new exempt and expedited studies and this has paid off. At the same time, we benefited from Spring Break and a slowdown in submissions. Our goal remains a 4-week wait time at our current staffing level. We continue to implement additional actions to support faculty, staff, and students to ensure that research requiring immediate attention that qualifies for our Urgent Review process and Simple Amendments receive that attention. Please share our Submission Guidelines to ensure that studies submitted are ready for review and positioned for appropriate action. As always, if you have questions, feel free to reach out to Julie Slayton at jslayton@usc.edu or oprs@usc.edu.

CONTRACTS & GRANTS: The Department of Contracts and Grants is happy to announce two new DCG Officers! John Ma is the new DCG Senior Officer supporting the HSC campus. He comes from a nonprofit research institute that originated from CalTech and has managed several federal, industry, foreign and university collaboration awards prior to joining DCG. Muoi Thang has also joined DCG as a new Federal Officer supporting the UPC campus. Prior to joining DCG, she worked at the Keck School of Medicine and the Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. We are very excited to have both on the DCG team!  In addition to two new staff, Dragana Davidovic was promoted to a Principal Officer supporting the HSC campus. Dragana was previously DCG’s Senior Officer for Dornsife and has an extensive history working with complex, research active departments at USC. The contact information for all three DCG Officers can be found on the Contracts and Grants Directory of the DCG website.

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: On April 1st we will Go Live with the new Animal Operations Software which has been a collaborative effort with Martin Koning-Bastiaan and his team. This software will allow DAR service requests, census collection, invoices, transfers, imports, and exports to all be performed electronically. The department is also in the process of hiring a new Associate Director.

ENVIRNOMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: USC EH&S continues to work its way through laboratories at USC, inventorying and barcoding all chemicals into the new Risk & Safety Solutions data system. The process will take a long time to complete; but we are encouraged by the progress and feedback we have received thus far. As a reminder, Peroxide Former materials pose significant risk when handling them in labs. Please review the Chemical Hygiene Plan (Section 7) for updated guidance regarding the appropriate training, storage, testing, and disposal of peroxide-forming materials. For questions on the chemical inventory project or on peroxide-forming materials, please contact EH&S at ehs@usc.edu.