Monthly Update – February 2024

Dear Colleagues, 

With the onset of spring, it is only fitting to celebrate budding research projects and new initiatives, including our Techstars partnership. Entrepreneurship requires a scholarly ecosystem that can support world-changing innovation and startups. We are building it with leading innovators, some featured here

Thank you for reading this month’s newsletter and continuing your important work. Happy Spring! 

With deep gratitude,

Ishwar K. Puri 

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: Upcoming proposal application deadlines for OORI internal grant programs include the Student Empowerment Award (March 4), the President’s Sustainability Initiative Award (March 18) and the Instrumentation Award (April 17). Currently under review are proposal applications received for the GenAI, the SBIR/STTR, the Ming Hsieh Institute Research Award, and the Zumberge Award programs. Click on our funding page for information on all OORI’s award programs. 

The Office of Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) will be participating in the Keck School of Medicine Information Fair: How to Get Your Research Started, to be heldon March 13 from 11:30am-1:30pm at HSC NRT LG 503/4. RII staff will be available to answer any questions regarding our internal awards programs and USC’s limited submission nomination process. See you there! 

Our spring 2024 training workshops are open for registration on our website! In March, Hossein Pourmand will show you how to build a meaningful relationship with a foundation; Paul Ronney will help you understand the NSF review process; and Heidi Smith Parker will offer advice on balancing research with finding funding and navigating the grant proposal landscape. 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

Are you a faculty or staff member who wants to help researchers and scholars learn skills that will help them improve their work? The Center for Excellence in Research is looking for volunteers to teach a one to two hour-long workshop via Zoom this fall on topics such as research resources/methods, professional development, grant writing, etc. Any ideas you think would be useful are welcome! Apply here by Friday, March 29. 

UPDATED CYBERSECURITY GUIDELINES FROM DoD: The Office of Culture, Ethics and Compliance (OCEC), the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO), and the Office of Research & Innovation (OORI) are collaborating closely to implement a CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) compliance program in partnership with school and unit researchers and administrators that will ensure USC’s continued ability to conduct the full range of DoD-sponsored research. 

The SecureIT USC SharePoint site has added a Research Security and Regulatory Compliance (RSRC) page that houses resources and information about CMMC, including guidance on how schools and units can support CMMC compliance. 

Additionally, the RSRC team is hosting an information session targeting impacted researchers during the third week of March, that will include a Q&A segment. You can add this session directly to your calendar by navigating to the Upcoming Sessions section of the RSRC SharePoint page. Please join this session if your current or future research deals with Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI). For any questions or comments please contact RSRC at

FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: The FY 2025 Department of Defense Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI) announcement has been released. The MURI program supports high-risk basic research in the fields of science, economic growth, and revolutionary new military technologies. White papers are strongly recommended and must be submitted no later than May 17th. Additional details are available here. Those interested in learning more about the MURI program should contact Jim Murday within the Office of Research Strategy and Development ( 

DEPARTMENT OF CONTRACTS & GRANTS: Update to NIH Salary CapThe Department of Contracts and Grants (DCG) would like to remind the USC research community that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a notice regarding the salary limitation for NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards and extramural research and development contract awards. The Office of Personnel Management recently released new salary levels for the Executive Pay Scale. Effective January 1, 2024, the salary limitation for Executive Level II is $221,900. For active awards, including awards that have been issued in FY 2024 (continuation and new), that were restricted to the previous Executive Level II, if adequate funds are available in active awards, and if the salary cap increase is consistent with the institutional base salary, recipients may rebudget funds to accommodate the current Executive Level II salary level. 

Updated USC Guide to Sponsored ResearchThe Guide to Sponsored Research is a useful tool to anyone involved in research here at USC. It addresses common questions and issues that arise in research administration.  

Monthly Training Dates for March – 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 March:    

Pre-Award Training: A Walk Through Cayuse SP and the Proposal Process

Tuesday, March 26th from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm PST    

Post-Award: Managing Common Post Award Issues and Questions

Thursday, March 28th from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm PST    

STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: Our institution has continued its global impact and was ranked 49th in the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents List by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The report highlighted the role patents and IP play in academic research and innovation. 

In February, Dr. Erin Overstreet and a few Stevens Center staff members had a strong presence at the AUTM Annual Meeting in San Diego where they networked, shared USC licensing news, and learned best practices from tech transfer colleagues from all over the world. Dr. Overstreet presented at the Center for New Technologies in Drug Discovery and Development (CNT3D) and gave a “Vision Talk” about her goals for the office. She also attended the PAC-12 Tech Transfer Office Directors Meeting. In March, the Stevens Center team will be at the 12th Annual UCLA MedTech Conference as a community partner and participate in the “Information Fair: How to Get Your Research Started” event at HSC. We are excited to meet faculty and introduce you to Dr. Overstreet and the licensing team who can support your commercialization path!  

HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION PROGRAM: On March 13, the HRPP will have a representative at the Research Information Fair on HSC NRT (see the Department of Animal Resources explanation below). Thank you everyone who recently received and responded to our first round of Progress Updates. We will be sharing the results of this process at the end of Q1. You will be able to find them on our HRPP Performance and Metrics page of our website once they are available. We also just completed our first series of Post Approval Monitoring (PAM) not-for-cause audits. One finding from the audits is that there are common mistakes being made by investigators regarding the Informed Consent process. We are putting together guidance material and will make that available on our website and through our Monthly Pulse newsletter as soon as it is finalized. And finally, if you have not checked it out yet, we have added IRB FAQs to our website.  

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: On March 13, DAR will have representatives at the Research Information Fair from 11:30am-1:30pm on HSC NRT 503/4. This is a fair with many other participating departments including EH&S, KSOM Research Admin, USC Stevens Center, IACUC, and more. There will be general information available to new researchers to help navigate the start of projects including utilizing animal models at USC.  

For modernization purposes, the HMR freight elevator will be out of service for 15 weeks (approximately 3 and a half months), beginning 4/1/24 through 7/12/24. For those whose projects have been disrupted by elevator outages over the past several years, this is a welcome and necessary project. Please plan projects accordingly. DAR is working with FPM for solutions and alternatives during this period.  

Per diem rates and service charges will increase on July 1, 2024. We are actively strategizing on how to do this gently considering the impact on award funding. We appreciate your patience as no official numbers have been released yet. When the new rates are official, they will be posted to the DAR website after careful consideration and checks by university financial officials and research stakeholders.  

Monthly updates are archived here.