November is National Gratitude Month. I write to express my deep appreciation for you as you advance research and translate innovations into solutions that, despite current challenges and tribulations, will make our world a better place. And I know with certitude that your forward-thinking work will have immeasurable impact on future generations.
This month’s newsletter highlights how the Office of Research and Innovation supports you and our institution. Thank you for reading it and for belonging to our transformative research community.
Ishwar K. Puri
FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: Congratulations to our awardees! We are happy to announce the awardee for the 2023 USC Research and Innovation (R&I) Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) Research Award, Associate Professor Rehan Kapadia (Viterbi), for the project Democratizing Semiconductor Manufacturing through Generative AI Copilots. Co-PIs include Associate Professors Jayakanth Ravichandran (Viterbi) and Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (Viterbi), and Assistant Professors Swabha Swayamdipta (Viterbi) and Matteo Sesia (Marshall). We also congratulate the two awardees for the 2023 USC Research & Innovation (R&I) Alternative Methods to Animal Research Award program: Associate Professor Eun Ji Chung (Viterbi) and Co-PI is Assistant Professor Zhongwei Li (KSOM) for the project Screening Combination Therapy for ADPKD Nanomedicine, and Assistant Professor Giorgia Quadrato (KSOM) and Co-PI Associate Professor Megan McCain (Viterbi) for the project Reducing Animals in Neuroscience Research by Engineering a Human Visual System on a Chip.
New Research & Innovation Grant Deadlines: We have added an additional deadline to submit proposals to R&I’s GenAI Research Program, January 15, 2024. As well, the deadline for the SBIR/STTR Planning Award has been updated to January 8, 2024. Click here for more information and to download the Requests for Proposals of all our award programs. Please contact us at email@example.com for any questions. We are here to help!
Research and Scholarship Training Workshops: Our fall 2023 workshops are now open for registration on our website! In November, guest speaker Emily Parcell will teach you practical strategies for how to quickly build or maintain an effective research team; and Karen Manrique from SC CTSI will discuss regulatory science resources for clinical researchers. 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!
Welcome to RII’s new student worker Safwat Khalil, majoring in computer science and business administration. Safwat will be helping to create RII’s database of internal awards. Welcome Safwat!
FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: The National Institutes of Health is taking steps to implement a simplified review framework that will apply to most research project grant mechanisms for application due dates of January 25th, 2025, or later. The Simplified Framework for NIH Peer Review Criteria retains the five regulatory criteria (Significance,Investigators, Innovation, Approach, Environment), but reorganizes them into three factors — two will receive numerical criterion scores and one will be evaluated for sufficiency. NIH is developing a timeline, policy rollout and trainings to support the implementation of these changes. Additional information is available here.
DEPARTMENT OF CONTRACTS & GRANTS: National Institutes of Health (NIH) has curated a playlist of YouTube videos designed to provide an overview of the NIH grants process, the different funding programs available, key tools to develop an application, and grant writing advice straight from NIH staff! Grab a snack and hit play on the topic you are most interested in, including NIH Grant Fundamentals, NIH Funding Programs and Grant Application Tips.
DCG offers monthly pre-award and post-award trainings. The pre-award training covers roles and responsibilities, how to create and route proposals in Cayuse, and key USC processes and policies. The post-award training provides an overview of roles and responsibilities, cost principals, common post award issues, and when/how to seek sponsor prior approval.
Pre-Award Training – A Walk Through Cayuse
Monday, November 6, 2023 from 9:00am – 10:30am PST
Post-Award – Common Post Award Issues and How to Manage
Thursday, November 9, 2023 from 9:00am – 10:30am PST
STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: At the last Association for University Technology Managers (AUTM) Western Region Meeting, Interim Associate Vice President of Research Strategy and Innovation, Steven Moldin, and Senior Technology Licensing Manager, Bonnie Phan Wolf, spoke on two panels. Steve’s talk was titled “Core R&D Facilities, IP, and Startups: How Universities Use Research Infrastructure Commons to Drive Startups, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.” He shared USC’s R&D successes and the entrepreneurial ecosystem to support licensing and commercialization opportunities. Bonnie’s panel was about “Development and Licensing of Immunotherapy Technologies” where she discussed how academic institutions have a leading role in oncology, described groundbreaking work, and shared what fields are emerging. The Stevens Center was thrilled to have USC present at the meeting to provide thought leadership in the technology transfer space with peers from all over the country.
HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION PROGRAM: We continue to hold steady at 1 week for time to assignment to an analyst for Exempt and Expedited studies. As we head into the Winter Recess, we expect that there will be a slowdown in review times so plan accordingly. We will also be moving Biomedical full board committee meeting dates in November (because of the Thanksgiving holiday) and again in December and January (because of the Winter Recess). If you have questions about those changes, please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org). We have launched a YouTube Channel! Check it out for answers to frequently asked questions. We will be launching a new Progress Update process and a Post Approval Monitoring process in January 2024. We will provide more information over the next two months.
DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: Our AAALAC International Site Visit will be November 7-9, 2023. This visit happens every 3 years and it is imperative to maintain our accreditation for USC to continue to receive federal funding for research. By now, you or your lab member, have been contacted to be present for the visit if the Site Visitors plan on visiting your lab. Please prepare by talking with your lab staff about animal use protocols and policies (found on the DAR website) since the Site Visitors do ask lab staff about their knowledge on these topics. Feel free to 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 still underway. So that you can anticipate what the rate changes are in the future, we will report the findings to the research community in December. The date has been pushed back in order to accommodate time for the AAALAC Site Visit. A zoom link will be sent to individual emails when the date has been finalized.
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.
The results for the Customer Service and Focus Survey have been compiled and will be shared at the Research Council Meeting in December. Thank you to all who participated as we had over 60 responses!
DAR has a new Laboratory Animal Care Trainer starting this month! Our department repurposed a position to bring consistency in messaging from the Director and Facility Manager to all newly hired animal care staff and retraining of existing staff. Our hope is to also increase staff retention, since expectations and documentation of duties will be clear and centralized, which will show up in the care of your animals and research outcomes.
For all other updates including polies, procedures, and resources, please visit: dar.usc.edu.
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: As October ends, USC EH&S would like to thank all those who participated in Biosafety Month activities, including our Researcher Spotlight, Biosafety quiz, and more! Winners of the raffle prizes will be contacted and awarded prizes in the coming weeks. Additionally, iStar will now allow you to print door signs for your lab that include the specific information about the biohazards listed on your BUA.
November also marks the beginning of the holiday season and many will travel or make plans to take time away from work. While ongoing research often continues beyond normal business hours and after regularly scheduled closure times, it is imperative that safety precautions are taken. Under no circumstances should research staff and/or students work alone on experimental procedures involving hazardous chemicals, biohazardous materials, or high physical hazards. Also, while the close of the calendar year is a good time to clean house and tidy the workspace, we ask that you plan accordingly leading up to the holiday closure, using the appropriate channels and allowing ample time for Hazardous Waste Pickups.
Finally, USC EH&S strongly recommends receiving a vaccine against flu and an updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. September and October are generally the best timeframe to get this protection; however, it is not too late! See USC Pharmacy’s list of locations to receive your flu shot on a walk-in basis.
Monthly updates are archived here