Monthly Update – September 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Our researchers continue to thrive. USC was ranked 29th in the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) list of universities granted U.S. patents in the United States. I greatly appreciate your exceptional work in making an impact through USC. 

This month’s update highlights recent news and upcoming workshops from the Office of Research and Innovation. Thank you for contributing to our research impact.

With gratitude, Ishwar

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: Expanded eligibility criteria to apply to OORI grants: The Research and Innovation office has broadened the eligibility criteria to apply to its grant programs, mirroring those for being a PI on an external sponsored research project. Additional eligibility criteria may apply, as specified in the Request for Proposal of each OORI grant program. 

All tenured, tenure track, and Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical (RTPC) faculty (with the exception of lecturers, adjunct, and part-time faculty) may serve as Principal Investigators on Sponsored Research Projects at USC. Retired faculty may be called back and asked to serve as Principal Investigators as described in Chapter 10 of the Faculty Handbook. Voluntary faculty may not serve as Principal Investigators.  

The following employee types may serve as Principal Investigators if a specific waiver is granted upon recommendation by the appropriate department chair(s), appropriate dean(s), and the SVP of Research and Innovation:

  1. Part-time faculty
  2. Certain staff positions, if eligible, including Research Scientists, Senior Research Associates, and Research Associates
  3. Postdoctoral Research Associates and Postdoctoral Teaching Associates

Postdoctoral Research Associates and Postdoctoral Teaching Associates, as defined by USC’s Postdoctoral Scholars Policy, can also serve as co-principal investigators on sponsored projects without a waiver. To review the Postdoctoral Scholars Policy, please visit

October deadlines: October 2 is the deadline for submission to OORI’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Mentorship Award. The HHMI Mentorship Award incorporates HHMI’s “people, not projects” approach, and aims to provide select USC researchers with a unique mentoring experience in an active HHMI laboratory. Click herefor more information on the HHMI and all other OORI grant programs.

Research and Scholarship Training Workshops: Our fall 2023 workshops are now open for registration on our website! In October, Paul Ronney will discuss how to write a compelling NSF proposal; James Murday will help you develop a successful mission agency grant; and Murday will also help you to create a winning humanities/social sciences agency grant. If you’d like to be updated about upcoming Center for Excellence in Research workshops, please join our mailing list. Do you have an idea for a workshop? We’d love to hear from you!

FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: The White House has released a fact sheet about the President’s cancer moonshot, available here. Highlights of the announcement include $240 million in additional investment from ARPA-H to researchers and innovators for cancer-related projects, as well as a new “biomedical data fabric toolbox” to advance cancer research progress. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also launch which will house resources from EPA and other federal agencies cancer-related topics and dangers.

DEPARTMENT OF CONTRACTS & GRANTS: The Department of Contracts and Grants would like to remind researchers of the new NSF Mandate for training in the responsible conduct of research. Under the new requirements, all faculty and other senior personnel named on NSF proposals must complete RCR training. Additionally, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates are still required to complete RCR training before conducting NSF-supported research. These requirements are outlined in the latest National Science Foundation’s latest Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

The Department of Contracts and Grants offers, on a monthly basis, and upon request, a pre-award and post-award training.  The pre-award training walks administrators through the proposal process here at USC covering; roles and responsibilities, how to route proposals through the Cayuse system, and USC processes and policies to be aware of.  The post-award training provides an overview of roles and responsibilities, cost principals, common post award issues and how/when to seek sponsor prior approval. Below are the dates and times the trainings will be available in October:

Monday, October 9th: 9:30am – 11:00am (PDT)

Thursday, October 12th: 9:30am – 11:00am (PDT)

STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: Congratulations to a 2022 TAG Award recipient, Travis Williams, for receiving new funding from the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and a $1M translational research grant for a project titled “Chemical Hydrogen Storage Media with Value-Added Co-Products.” The project will develop chemicals that can efficiently carry hydrogen to its point of use, where the hydrogen is released, and the chemical carrier can then be used for valuable agricultural purposes. Led by USC, the team includes Los Alamos and Brookhaven National Laboratories, as well as UCLA. We are excited to follow their commercialization path with this new federal funding!

AcuraStem, a patient-based biotechnology company pioneering how treatments are developed for neurodegenerative diseases, has entered into a license agreement with Takeda to develop and commercialize AcuraStem’s PIKFYVE targeted therapeutics including AS-202, an innovative antisense oligonucleotide for the treatment of ALS. This novel therapeutic mechanism was initially discovered at the USC Stem Cell lab of AcuraStem’s co-founder, Dr. Justin Ichida, using patient-derived disease models, and was exclusively licensed to AcuraStem by the Stevens Center. Under the terms of the agreement, Takeda will receive an exclusive, worldwide license and AcuraStem will receive an upfront and milestone payments totaling up to approximately $580M if all future clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones are achieved during the term of the agreement plus tiered royalties on potential net sales of any commercial products resulting from this license. Read more about this licensing agreement in the AcuraStem press release.

HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION PROGRAM: As of October 2, 2023, the following activities should be submitted as simple amendments: 1. Translated documents, including consents and 2. Changes to exempt studies only when there are documents to be submitted (e.g., revised survey or interview instruments).

For instances where an Urgent Review is necessary and the investigator discovers the need after having submitted the iStar application, the investigator should use the Send Message to request that the application be returned so that the investigator can make the Urgent Review request in the iStar application and upload the justification. We have updated our Submission Guidelines to reflect these changes.

As a general reminder, please upload Word versions of the following documents: Social Behavioral/Secondary Research, Secondary Research, and Investigator-Initiated Biomedical protocols (uploaded to 5.2 in iStar), Information Sheets and Informed Consents, and Interview and Survey instruments (unless they are measures acquired from other sources and not generated by the study team). PDF versions of these documents will result in the return of the application without review. In addition, in general, please do not submit links to study documents instead of uploading Word versions. Applications will be returned as incomplete. If you have questions, please contact The wait time for the IRB is currently 1 week. 

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: We want to hear from you! You should have received a link to our DAR Customer Focus Survey that asks only 12 quick questions about your recent experience with our department.

On 9/12/23 – 9/13/23 DAR underwent an annual USDA APHIS inspection and received no noncompliant items. This is excellent news for USC and means that the care and use of research animals are up to the standards outlined in the Animal Welfare Act and Regulations

Our AAALAC International Site Visit will be November 7-9, 2023.  You may notice improvements and preventive maintenance occurring in the animal facility. If you bring research animals to the lab for experimental purposes, we will be reaching out to you to schedule a conversation with the site visitors. Please prepare by talking with your lab staff about animal use protocols and reach out to a DAR vet or Animal Research Integrity Specialist if training is needed or clarity on animal care and use can be provided. It is our goal to have no deficiencies, minimal to no Suggestions for Improvement, and Continued Full Accreditation. 

The final analysis of our Rate Setting and Time and Motion study is underway. So that you can anticipate what the rate changes are in the future, we will report the findings to the research community on November 16, 2023, at 10:30am (PDT). A zoom link will be sent to individual emails.

Our value of continuous improvement has been recently exemplified in an interview completed by our own Clinical Veterinarian, Dr. Lynlee Stevey-Rindenow’s interview with NC3Rs.  You can listen on the NC3Rs site,  Twitter and LinkedIn. She describes how our department took a hard look at the way we were using live animal sentinels and how we made considerable multiyear refinements to replace them with better technology for pathogen detection. This had the added value of benefiting staff that were undergoing compassion fatigue.

For all other updates including polies, procedures, and resources, please see

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: USC EH&S is pleased to celebrate Biosafety Month at USCthroughout the month of October. Take the short Biosafety quiz to be entered for your chance to win one of several prizes including USC swag and gift cards. Also, stay tuned to the EH&S website throughout October for new developments, biosafety tips, and for our annual USC Researcher Spotlight highlighting outstanding researchers in the USC community.

Also, implementation of Risk and Safety Solutions (RSS) software continues across USC. Over 50,000 chemical containers have been barcoded and roughly 60 inspections have been conducted using the new platform, mostly at the UPC campus. In the coming months, implementation efforts will partially shift to labs at HSC. EH&S looks forward to visiting each of your labs, barcoding chemicals, and training your teams on best practices for all modules in RSS (Inspect, WASTe, Chemicals, and more). 

Labs that have already transitioned into RSS should begin using the in-app WASTe module for chemical and biohazardous waste pickup requests. To assist during this transitionary time, EH&S launched a new Request a Hazardous Waste Pickup web page to provide information regarding the appropriate channels for all waste requests and modes.

Finally, USC is pleased to announce a new Sustainability in Research Labs at USC webpage, offering information and resources related to sustainability practices in labs. It covers various aspects of sustainable lab procedures, equipment, and facilities. The information aligns with Assignment: Earth, USC’s sustainability framework for creating a healthy, just and thriving campus and world.

If you have any questions regarding safety in your labs or at USC, please email us at

Monthly updates are archived here