KUMC Defining Research-Intensive Units at the University of Kansas Medical Center
Biomedical research relies increasingly on collaborative and interdisciplinary interactions, and on sophisticated technologies. Sharing of expensive resources has become essential as the cost of state-of-the-art equipment has risen in concert with diminishing state and federal funds. These realities necessitate that KUMC adopt policies that will optimize its investment in research infrastructure.
The purpose of this document is to provide consistent and specific guidelines for ascribing titles to Research-Intensive Units, and to explicitly define the expectations for each unit type: Programs, Centers, Institutes, Cores and Networks/Consortiums. It should be noted that criteria will be applied on a case by case basis, and in some instances there may be legitimate variance from the model; an example may be certain entities funded by Endowment, State or Federal programs where specific titles are required. For internal purposes, evaluative criteria will be applied in line with the following definitions irrespective of an externally designated title.
The current document focuses on entities whose primary mission is to advance the research agenda of KUMC.
A Program consists of multiple investigators joined by a common interest and who interact collaboratively to advance a specific area of research, thus increasing their competitiveness for external funding.
Criteria for defining a Program
The following attributes are considered when ascribing the title of Program at KUMC:
- The Program must comprise numbers of faculty members sufficient to promote a high level of collaboration and interaction.
- The Program must possess appropriate faculty resources (external grants, endowment funds, etc.) to show evidence that it will be able to maintain a vigorous level of activity in research and possibly in related clinical and/or educational areas.
- The Program will have a Director who is ultimately responsible for overseeing and guiding activities that occur within the Program.
- Program should have well defined criteria for membership
- Mission. A Program should have a specific and well defined research mission, with discrete goals and objectives.
- A Program should have a business plan intended to ensure sustainability and to enhance the research portfolio over a given time frame.
- Programs will provide annually their milestones and objectives for the coming year, and report their progress toward achieving their milestones for the past year. Identifying clear milestones and achieving them will be a significant factor in determining resource allocation.
- Programs should be actively organizing to enhance their presence within and outside of the University, to recruit new members who will contribute substantively, and to seek out related Programs with whom they may partner and collectively evolve into a Center.
- Programs are encouraged to establish an internal advisory board consisting of members from within and outside of the program who can shape the direction of Program development.
- Programs must be transparent in providing information regarding mission, organization, membership, resources, and other relevant information.
A Center is focused on developing and promoting a collaborative research environment among Programs that include basic scientists, clinicians and/or population-based scientists who share interests in a common discipline or group of related diseases. Generally speaking, the model is based on elements of NIH-funded centers that encourage thematic grouping of member investigators, and whose programs are assisted by staffed research cores. Accordingly, a primary consideration in the designation of the title of Center is that the Unit reflects these attributes, and that it either is an NIH-designated Center already or has a well-developed plan to achieve NIH (or comparable) Center funding.
Criteria for defining a Center
The following attributes are considered to be primary features of a Center at KUMC:
- Encompasses multiple Programs (which also may be called divisions, research themes, etc.).
- Each Program is composed of an aggregate of investigators with common interests and a shared vision that collectively represents a significant institutional strength.
- The Programs are distinct but inter-related and convergent, each containing investigators who contribute in substantive ways to the mission of the Center by bringing expertise, knowledge and/or actively funded research programs or clinical strengths in ways that encourages active collaboration.
- The Center brings these distinct Programs together by way of their addressing a common interest or objective.
- The Center provides support for ongoing research, and possibly clinical and educational activities, in a manner that promotes and enhances the mission of the Center. This may be accomplished through a blend of activities. Some examples are:
- Administrative support directed at sustaining the research efforts of its members and units, including assistance with research-related activities such as grant opportunity identification and application submission, post award grants management, assistance with compliance procedures, etc. These and other general administrative services are permissible insofar as they do not replicate other administrative services available to Center members.
- Scientific support in the form of Cores that provide relevant and highly utilized equipment and personnel to the Center members and other members of the KUMC research community
- Organizing and sponsoring seminar series that allow for dissemination of information by KUMC investigators and outside speakers
- Providing opportunities for training and education
- Subsidization of research activities provided by scientific or administrative Cores
- Funding of member investigators and/or programs by way of pilot or bridging grants
- A Center will have a Director who is responsible for the vision and operations of the Center.
- Centers should have well defined criteria for membership. They may have primary members and affiliate members; however, the distinction in terms of expectations and services provided must be clear with regard to different tiers of membership.
- A Center should have a specific and well defined research mission, with definable goals and objectives.
- Centers are uniquely positioned to apply for federal funds through specific NIH funding instruments (e.g., NIH P30’s, U54’s, P50’s, P20’s and comparable NSF mechanisms). Significant value is ascribed to centers that have specific plans for being responsive to certain funding opportunities, and all Centers should have plans for responding to Federal opportunities that would support the mission of the Center.
- Centers are encouraged to seek external funding from sources other than the KUMC schools and the federal government, including foundations, corporations, and private philanthropy.
- Centers must have a business plan that seeks to achieve sustainability over a specific period of time, which generally should be 5 years
- Centers must be prepared annually to identify milestones and objectives for the coming year, and to report their progress toward achieving their milestones for the past year. Identifying clear milestones and achieving them will be a significant factor in determining resource allocation.
- Centers should incorporate advisory boards to help formulate goals and directions for the Center.
- Centers should incorporate well-defined cores, which themselves fulfill the criteria specified for cores later in this document.
- Centers must be transparent in providing information regarding mission, organization, membership, resources, and other relevant information including any fees for services. Information should be maintained on a web site and updated regularly.
Institutes provide a mechanism for grouping and coordinating multiple Centers with related goals and interests. An Institute represents an organizational framework that can promote common interests across multiple Centers in a manner that minimizes competition for resources, and that draws on individual strengths of the separate centers in a synergistic manner. An institute serves as a logical means of community outreach and of organizing programs across different Centers.
Criteria for defining an Institute
The following attributes are considered when ascribing the title of Institute at KUMC:
- An Institute encompasses multiple Centers, all of which are related by common themes.
- An Institute permits centers within a given discipline to coordinate and speak with a common voice.
- An Institute can coordinate research efforts across multiple departments, centers, and institutions.
- An Institute may include individual units (divisions, research themes, etc.) that may cross multiple Centers to provide additional or enhanced collaborative opportunities
- An Institute provides tangible support for its varied Centers in the form of organizing and integrating activities
- Like a Center, an Institute may contain cores as defined below, may incorporate seminars series and other formats for knowledge exchange, and may provide funding for investigators or students.
- An Institute will have a Director who is responsible for the vision and operations of the Institute.
- Institutes should have well defined criteria for membership. They may have primary members and affiliate members; however, the distinction in terms of expectations and services provided must be clear with regard to different tiers of membership.
- Mission. An Institute should have a specific and well defined research mission, with definable goals and objectives.
- An Institute should have a well-defined business plan intended to achieve sustainability over a given time frame.
- Institutes must be prepared annually to identify milestones and objectives for the coming year, and to report their progress toward achieving these milestones for the past year. Identifying clear milestones and achieving them will be a significant factor in determining resource allocation.
- Institutes should incorporate advisory boards to help formulate goals and directions.
- Institutes must be transparent in providing information regarding mission, organization, membership, resources, and other relevant information including any fees for services. Information should be maintained on a web site and updated regularly.
Cores provide specialized staffing and equipment in support of multiple investigators. A core may have specific policies regarding access and cost structure; however, any core receiving institutional support is expected to provide access to all KUMC investigators. Investment by multiple Centers, Institutes, Departments, etc. is encouraged and, while a common fee structure must be applied to all internal investigators, subsidies based on contributions supporting specific sets of users is permissible. It is important to note that requirements other than those listed below will be accommodated if required by a funding agency.
Criteria for defining a Core
The following attributes are considered when ascribing the title of Core at KUMC:
- A Core comprises specialized equipment that enables workflow in particular technology or area of scientific investigation
- A Core maintains dedicated staff who are trained in the core equipment and provide specialized technical and/or intellectual skill sets complementary to the core’s objectives.
- A Core serves multiple investigators with specialized needs in line with the Core resources
- A Core provides advice on experimental design and other technical issues, and may provide training to user laboratory staff
- A Core may contain subunits that logically organize along definable operational functions, which are designated as Facilities or as Services.
- A Core generally will have a Scientific Director, typically a faculty member, who is responsible for determining the overall direction and monitoring the day to day operations
- A Core Manager, who generally has a scientific background appropriate to the activities of the core, will serve as a point of contact for users
- Advisory committees will assist the Scientific Director in determining Core direction and activities. Generally, members will be drawn from the user base from within the University
- Cores should provide additional value to the research programs they serve and should be cost-effective relative to outside services or even to comparable services performed within investigator laboratories.
- Cores should implement policies ensuring that a substantial fraction of their costs will be recovered through charge-backs or fees for services.
- The Core must track its activities and be prepared with adequate notice to provide detailed metrics including a list of users, services performed including time devoted to individual projects by individual staff members, equipment utilization by user and time, expenses including salary and consumables, and costs recovered through fees or effort on grants.
- A Core must develop specific policies concerning warrantees on services provided, priority of use, threshold for authorship, and other relevant guidelines that will inform interactions with its users.
- The Core will maintain a Web presence in which written descriptions are provided on policies for access, sample submission, resources (including narrative for grant submissions), pricing structure and other relevant details, and which will be maintained and kept current.
- Items of equipment that are centrally located and used by multiple investigators, but are unstaffed, do not rise to the level of Core designation, but instead are considered to be Shared Equipment, and their performance will be assessed by other guidelines.
A Network/Consortium represents an aggregation of Programs, Centers, Institutes or Cores across multiple institutions. A Network/Consortium serves the purposes of enhancing inter-institutional communication and collaboration, and provides a vehicle for dissemination of knowledge, technologies, learning aids, or other resources across multiple sites. A Network/Consortium may provide resources such as telecommunication capabilities or scientific cores, and may incorporate specific mechanisms for promoting an expansive research agenda aligned with both the participating institutions and the needs of the state or federal government.
Criteria for defining a Network/Consortium
The following attributes are considered when ascribing the title of Network/Consortium:
- A Network/Consortium comprises activities ongoing at multiple institutions, each of which is related by a common theme.
- A Network/Consortium serves to coordinate activities in a given realm of research with related educational or clinical components.
- A Network/Consortium will provide tools and features that will enhance inter-institutional activities and relationships.
- A Network/Consortium will provide mechanisms to promote technologies associated with its theme.
- A Network/Consortium may provide mechanisms to help advance professional and scientific development of its members.
- A Network/Consortium will have a Director who will be advised on pertinent matters by advisory bodies that represent each of the member institutions, as well as an independent external advisory body.
- Networks/Consortiums will represent a specific group of academic institutions with appropriate institutional approvals in place
- Mission. A Network/Consortium should have a specific and well defined mission, with definable goals and objectives.
- A Network/Consortium should have a well-defined business plan intended to achieve sustainability over a given time frame.
- Networks/Consortiums must be prepared annually to identify milestones and objectives for the coming year, and to report their progress toward achieving these milestones for the past year.
- Networks/Consortiums should incorporate advisory boards to help formulate goals and directions.
Networks/Consortiums must be transparent in providing information regarding mission, organization, membership, resources, and other relevant information including any fees for services. Information should be maintained on a web site and updated regularly.
Senior Associate Dean for Research
KU School of Medicine
A Program consists of multiple investigators joined by a common interest, who interact collaboratively to advance a specific area of research, thus increasing their competitiveness for funding and reputation.
A Center comprises multiple interrelated research Programs and provides them with resources by way of scientific cores and other support mechanisms. Centers are uniquely positioned to compete for federally sponsored center grants, which should be a primary objective.
An Institute represents an umbrella organization composed of multiple Centers and programs with common themes. It serves as a unifier allowing the centers to speak with a common voice; as a coordinator to insure that the different Centers are optimizing effort and opportunity; as an integrator to advance interdisciplinary science and collaboration; and as a face of the broader discipline in matters of community outreach.
A Core provides access to specialized equipment and highly trained staff to support the research efforts of a user base within Institutes, Centers, and the KUMC research community at large. A core may be embedded in and/or affiliated with a Department, Center or Institute, or may be a free-standing entity.
08/24/2017: Updated. Corrected link.
05/04/2017: Posted in library.