Monthly Update – January 2021

Safe research continues at USC:  Please always look here for regular updates on research during COVID-19.  Currently, any work on campus requires a weekly negative COVID-19 test.  Per the LA County regulations, USC is currently vaccinating USC community members (including researchers) who are 65 or older. 

Internal Funding Deadline Reminders: The Zumberge Individual Research Award (Feb 1, 2021); USC Stevens – Technology Advancement Grants (TAGs) (Feb 5, 2021); Zumberge Interdisciplinary Large Research Award (February 16, 2021); Zumberge Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Research Award (Feb 22, 2021). 

Research Resources: The Project PREPARE resource is a virtual organization facilitating communication and collaboration among the community conducting pandemic research, supported by NSF CISE. This and other public COVID-19 research resources are listed here. USC’s resources for COVID-19 research are found here.  

Tech Transfer Working Group Report (TTWG) Feedback Form:TTWG, constituted in Jan 2020 to provide faculty input on USC’s tech transfer practices and policies and consider the broader innovation environment at USC, developed thoughtful recommendations, found here. We welcome your feedback here. It will be used to inform the Innovation Council (established Sept 2020), which continues to work on the many aspects of the USC innovation ecosystem. 

Mentoring and Training Workshops: Here are the new 2021 Center of Excellence in Research workshops. We are also planning a Feb 23 workshop to demonstrate The Conversation, a communications platform that helps USC researchers to place articles in the news media. Register here


Executive Order Update: On his 1st day in office, President Biden signed an EO rescinding in its entirety the prior administration’s EO that limited diversity training for federal contractors. President Biden’s new EO on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government is the new policy of the federal government to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have historically been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”  

Research Leadership Update: President Biden chose MIT’s geneticist Eric Lander as the Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), elevating the position to the President’s cabinet. Alondra Nelson, a social scientist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, was appointed as an OSTP Deputy Director. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology will be co-chaired by Caltech bioengineer and Nobel laureate Frances Arnold and MIT VPR geophysicist Maria Zuber. Francis Collins will stay the head of the NIH. 

USC STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: USC is a member of the just-launched “University Technology Licensing Program (UTLP),” a joint effort of 15 of the country’s leading universities, including Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Yale, and others.  UTLP offers a streamlined, one-stop shop for companies licensing patents from many different universities. Each member institution receives the royalties generated by its technologies. UTLP will start with licensing efforts in the areas of connectivity, autonomous vehicles, and data applications. The UTLP initiative complements each institution’s technology licensing efforts, with the goal of increasing the overall dissemination of their innovations. Please send queries to Nikolaus Traitler, Senior Licensing Associate

OPRS/IRB: The IRB wait time is down from 8 weeks right after the winter recess to 6 weeks! If you have questions that you used to get answered by calling an IRB analyst, we want to talk with you. All IRB analysts are available by phone and are happy to set up Zoom meetings; just reach out via iStar through the “send message” function and ask to talk by phone or Zoom. You can also email the analyst directly and ask for a meeting. USC IRB also offers office hours for both biomedical and social behavioral research protocols. And as of January 1, 2021, all social behavioral research should be submitted using the new social behavioral protocol. Information for both can be found on the IRB website

CONTRACTS & GRANTS:  DCG, in partnership with the Office of General Counsel (OGC), has streamlined the review and negotiation of sponsored projects agreements.  The improved business process expands DCG authority to negotiate research agreement terms using language deviations approved by OGC.  The streamlined review process aims to mitigate redundant efforts and improve contracting performance and reduce negotiation turnaround times. 

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY (EH&S): Here is the 2021 annual lab safety training refresher memo.