NORDP Liaison Report: Society for Neuroscience

Annual Meeting Report: Special News Related to NIH Early Stage Investigators

Inês Tomás Pereira, Research Development and Support Specialist at Brown University’s Carney Institute for Brain Science, serves as a NORDP liaison to the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), where she has been a member for 15 years.  She recently attended the SfN Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, and offers the following summary.

The SfN annual meeting typically gathers almost 30,000 people for a five-day conference covering all aspects of neuroscience, with hundreds of concurrent lectures, symposia, minisymposia, nanosymposia, posters sessions, and professional development workshops. This year’s conference was special because the Director of Pereira’s institute, Diane Lipscombe, was also the President of SfN.

The session most relevant for NORDP members was entitled “Optimize Your Grant Application: News You Can Use From the NIH.” This session was targeted at Early Stage Investigators (ESI) and included information that was useful broadly to all grant applicants and research development professionals. The first presentation included advice from a representative from the NIH Center for Scientific Review, explaining the review process at NIH generally.

A senior member of NIMH provided statistics for NIMH funding for FY19 ($1.87B for FY19) and stated that the institute expects a relative increase in appropriations for next year. The R61/R33 program was highlighted as a mechanism that is being used to fund novel interventions. In regard to funding priorities for the NIMH, suicide prevention continues to be a topic of interest. In addition, RD professionals can find upcoming concept clearances from NIMH Council meetings for RFAs, Pas, and RFPs here. Specifically for ESI, the institute highlighted their NIMH BRAINS initiative, which is similar to the NIH DP2 and DP5 awards.

NINDS staff presented next. This is the largest of the neuroscience-related NIH institutes, with a budget of $2.27B in FY19 (~60% R01, ~10% BRAIN Initiative). The institute has reported a decrease in funding of basic research, and their analysis indicates that there is a comparable decrease in applications in that area. They would like to see those numbers increase and strongly stated that NINDS research does not need to be disease related. The main special initiatives at the Institute continue to be the BRAIN Initiative, efforts in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias research (partnering with NIA), and the new HEAL Initiative (with NIDA) to enhance pain management and improve treatments for opioid misuse and addiction. The strongest message to ESI was that the institute has a payline boost for ESI only for R01 mechanisms, not R21, R03 or U01 (or multi-PI proposals with a non-ESI PI). NINDS encourages early career researchers to apply through R01 mechanisms, highlighting that alignment with large initiatives may further help their funding chances.

The session continued with a presentation from the NIA. Their main focus in the neurosciences space is predictably in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias. The NIA general payline is 20%-23% depending on funding mechanism, but it is 28%-31% for AD/ADRD topics. These have temporarily been reduced due to the continuing resolution that the NIH is operating under. The NIA then highlighted three new R03 small research grant calls in AD/ADRD: PAS-19-391, PAS-19-392, and PAS-19-393. Their strong message to ESI was to utilize all resources available. The NIH generally encourages researchers to contact institute personnel to ask questions about funding mechanisms and the fit of their research to the different Institutes.

The session closed with a presentation from a NIDA senior staff member. NIDA currently has a $1.4B budget, of which ~$264M is dedicated to AIDS research and ~$250M to opioid-related research. New institute interests focus on the effect of cannabis on the most vulnerable populations: prenatal, adolescents, and older adults. NIDA highlighted that different NIH institutes may fund different aspects of cannabis studies, so it is crucial to check with each agency to ensure that the proposal fits their mandates. Their opioid funding efforts are aggregated under the HEAL Initiative. Finally, NIDA highlighted the ABCD Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development program and emphasized that this is an open science effort, so data is available for further studies.

If anyone has any questions regarding SfN, the recent annual meeting, or if you are also a member of SfN and would like to connect Ines, send an email to ines_tomas_pereira@brown.edu.

 

It’s Here! NORDP Resource Creates Inroads into RD Careers: NROAD to RD

Why formal RD training?

Research Development (RD) is a career of strategists, planners and figure-it-outers. Most of us “fell into” the role and realized later that what we do is RD. We’ve figured out and honed our skills along the way.

However, the field is growing (if the first-ever sold-out NORDP conference is any indication!), and so a considerable need exists to shorten and ease that learning curve. Similarly, people looking at RD as a potential career may feel unsure about how to get started, or how to “test the waters” given the variability across RD offices.

With this in mind, NORDP launched a working group in June 2018 under the Strategic Alliances Committee to create a resource to help RD offices develop training programs relevant to their own needs. Indeed, the “NROAD to RD” training program framework is based on the idea that some RD-relevant skills and knowledge can be taught – and it offers a menu of options from which to choose.

The NROAD to RD, or the NORDP Resource for Organizing and ADapting a Training Program toward Developing an RD career, is the culmination of a year’s worth of work by the working group (with input from each of NORDP’s standing committees), a beta test at Duke University’s School of Medicine, and a soft launch at the 11th Annual NORDP conference in 2019.

How does NROAD to RD work?

The goals of NROAD to RD are to “provide RD offices with a framework to (1) develop their own training/apprenticeship/internship programs, and (2) employ that framework to introduce, recruit, and train individuals interested in a RD careers.” RD offices can choose among the suggested components and add additional components as necessary to ensure relevance to their individual office and institution’s missions.

The resource provides a guide for decision-making in designing an appropriate training program (Fig 1). Each decision affects the others, collectively defining parameters for the training program.

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Figure 1: Decisions to be made while designing an NROAD-based RD training program.

NROAD to RD also offers curriculum modes, or training delivery methods, from which to choose (Fig 2). Most programs will likely include a range of delivery methods, from self-study to shadowing to live or simulated work projects, as suits their goals and mentoring capacity.

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Figure 2: NROAD’s recommended curriculum modules

Curriculum suggestions include RD basics; navigating large grants, individual grants, and limited submissions; project management; team science; diversity and inclusion; and other institutional/research-related/career related topics. The curriculum module section is further broken down into sub-categories with recommended reading resources and suggested assignments for each.

Finally, NROAD to RD offers suggestions for program and trainee evaluation to ensure refinement and success.

Interested in NROAD to RD?

The NROAD to RD framework is available to all NORDP members and may be requested via email to Dr. Samarpita Sengupta (samar.sg@gmail.com). In the coming months, the “Phase II” working group under the auspices of the NORDP Professional Development Committee will create additional resources (e.g., case studies and job simulations), navigate the logistics of hosting these resources on the NORDP website, and evaluate resource usage.

Acknowledgements!

The Phase I working group was chaired by Samarpita Sengupta, and consisted of the following members: Peggy Sundermeyer, Trinity University; Joanna Downer, Duke University; Page Sorensen, then at the University of California San Francisco; Sharon Pound, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Rebecca Latimer, University of Virginia; Nicole Frank, University of Utah; Beth Moser, Maricopa County Community Colleges District; and Sarah Messbauer, University of California, Davis.

NROAD to RD was developed initially using resources generously shared by UT Southwestern Medical Center’s NeAT program (Samarpita Sengupta), University of California San Francisco’s Internship program (Page Sorensen), The University of Tennessee, Office of Research & Engagement’s Onboarding Resources (Jennifer Webster), and University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Onboarding Resources (Kathryn Partlow).

Current Phase II WG members are Joanna Downer, Rebecca Latimer, and Samar Sengupta with several new members: Danielle Matsushima at Columbia University; Elaine Lee, Boston University; Maile Henson, Duke University; Alexis Nagel, Medical University of South Carolina, and Dawn McArthur, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Peggy Sundermeyer remains on the WG as a consultant with supplementary assistance from Jacob Levin, MIT.

Submitted by Samarpita Sengupta

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Expert Finders Systems National Forum: February 2019 in Orlando, Florida

 

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Jeff Agnoli | The Ohio State University

The 2019 Expert Finders Systems Forum Report is now available.

Access presentations at http://expertfindersystems.org/Speakers.html

“Expert finder systems (EFS) have been serving universities, businesses, and the research community for more than two decades. However, there are still no formal venues for EFS stakeholders to network, learn from each other, and help steer the future of this dynamic field.” – EFS National Forum 2019

A group of ~5 NORDP members attended the EFS National Forum. Together with the more than 80 forum attendees, we explored:

  • the current administrative and research uses of these systems,
  • the need for new features and functions to support emerging uses,
  • best practices for building and managing expert finder systems and
  • strategies for enhancing stakeholder engagement.

We also discussed the economic development impacts of EFS on a regional, state and national level. The forum also explored the possibility of establishing a professional organization to provide leadership and develop ongoing events.

Attendees included many of the established and emerging vendors/partners in this space, librarians, researchers, informatics and social science faculty, research development, foundation and corporate relations professionals.

Robert McDonald, Dean of Libraries at UC Boulder, delivered a compelling keynote address. He provided a history of these tools citing their existence since the early 1990s, first in Europe and then spreading to other countries. He referenced an important study, see euroCRIS (Current Research Information Systems) Survey http://bit.ly/2TgQX1b, detailing “Practices and Patterns in Research Information Management: Findings from a Global Survey”, a 92-page report developed by OCLC, of Dublin, Ohio. He emphasized the role of the library as the system leader, “owner of the citation” and their responsibility to support and promote adoption of these tools. UC Boulder is training people in how to build their profiles and drive impact.

He introduced all of us to the made-up word “collabatition” which reminded me of “Team Science”, detailed the library as a trusted broker of data (or keep of the citation), the need to build a larger distributed network, and establish linked data as people move from institution. The EFS, at its core, is about the impact of our faculty member’s work.

Other presentations featured how these systems can educate early career researchers, identify potential collaborators, recruit individuals for peer review service, improve the status of the discipline, boost research through media/journalist relations, drive industry-sponsored research, and promote self/research activities. Presenters shared their success stories ranging from the number of visits/month to their site, to industry-sponsored research agreements, student research partnerships, and postdoc recruitment.

The EFS have three main audiences which include (1) Researchers, (2) Community Members/Industry, and (3) Managers/Research Administrators.

A highlight of the Forum for me was the presentation from Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University. His team has leveraged these systems and social science research to develop “Team Recommender Systems” which will influence the future of work at Northwestern University and beyond.

Noshir shared what has to be one of the best workshop titles: “Why Netflix thinks I am gay and Amazon thinks I am pregnant.” His message illustrates the limitations of analytics and the challenge of consuming data from multiple sources. As any of us in RD know, simply knowing our faculty members’ keywords is not enough to build a cohesive team; the process is much more nuanced. His description of “traditional teams as hierarchical versus self-assembled and more organic” speaks directly to the need for RD professionals to leverage creative collaborations and provide a high-touch vs a high-tech solution. Our sponsors desire authentic, transdisciplinary collaborations to solve the most challenging questions of our time.

Another high point was the concierge engagement model developed by New York State’s FuzeHub. They are leveraging the power of a Salesforce-like platform to capture leads, engage with industry through regular education/outreach, and drive industry-sponsored research. It is an exceptional and highly successful example of entrepreneurship and higher education. As a member of the core team leading to the implementation of the Ohio Innovation Exchange, launched in Novemeber of 2018, we are eager to adopt some of these practices to promote our site.

The EFS Steering Committee will continue to meet and discuss the meeting evaluation/feedback and chart a course for the future. For example, EFS could collaborate with NORDP and plan a joint conference, become an affinity group, or establish themselves as a new professional association. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Jeff Agnoli, The Ohio State University. My attendance at this forum was co-sponsored by NORDP’s Strategic Alliances Committee. Thank you.

HUDDLE: A New Year’s Resolution You’ll Love to Keep!

Dear NORDP Colleagues,

We ALWAYS hear that the best thing about attending a NORDP conference (even beyond all the great information and education) is the JOY of connecting with new colleagues and renewing the friendships we’ve made during our years in Research Development.

But why wait an entire year? Take this New Year’s Resolution with us: Let’s get together throughout the year by letting one another know when we are attending a business-related conference, so we can HUDDLE! Let’s not rely on serendipity or fickle fate!

It’s simple. When you decide you are attending a conference, send an email to the NORDP listserv and invite other members who may be attending for their organization to HUDDLE with you sometime at the conference. It adds another dimension to your conference and it’s just FUN to get together this way!

Our best wishes for a productive and wonderful 2019!

Warm regards, your Strategic Alliance Committee Co-Chairs

Rachel Dresbeck
Gretchen Kiser
Peggy Sundermeyer

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW), Sept. 17-21

The first ever National Postdoc Appreciation day was held on September 24th 2009, and in 2010, NPAW was nationally recognized when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.RES. 1545. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), in collaboration with its affiliated Postdoc Associations and Offices at institutes across the country recognize the passion, the perseverance, the hard work and toil, and the commitment to their craft that postdocs across the country demonstrate every single day. These organizations host networking events, breakfast and ice-cream socials, motivational speakers, receptions, and game nights, to name a few.

Postdoctoral scholars are highly trained and possess transferrable skills such as project management, effective time management, leadership, communication skills, the ability to speak different “languages,” and many more, and therefore, make particularly talented research development professionals. NORDP hopes to continue our relationship with the NPA to increase awareness of Research Development as one of the non-traditional paths for postdoctoral scholars as well as act as a supportive resource for postdoctoral scholars headed for the traditional academic route.

NORDP is proud to recognize the contributions made by the NPA in improving the postdoctoral experience and providing opportunities for professional growth, creating policies for the betterment of postdoctoral scholars and help them create a balance between personal and professional lives. NORDP also recognizes its several members, who came into the research development through the postdoc route, several of whose stories have been highlighted on our blog recently. Thank you for your contributions and Happy NPAW 2018!

posted on behalf of the Strategic Alliances Committee by Samar Sengupta

 

The Transition from Postdoc to Research Development: Gaelle F. Kolb

The following is part of a limited blog series from the Strategic Alliances Committee highlighting NORDP members who have transitioned from postdoctoral positions to careers in research development.

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Gaelle F. Kolb, Proposal Development Manager, Office of Research Development, Division of Research, University of Maryland

Describe your work in research development (RD): I am currently a proposal development manager in the Office of Research Development within the Division of Research at the University of Maryland. I am responsible for managing multidisciplinary teams of scientists and leading them to submit highly prestigious, multi-million dollars grants to various sponsors. The teams vary with the open calls and so do the represented disciplines.

Describe your postdoc work: My scientific background is in infectious diseases. During my first postdoc, I investigated the role of a host protein in waking up Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 from latency in infected neurons. The work was seminal in demonstrating that, in fact, a host protein was indispensable for that event to start, and another postdoc demonstrated that it recruited a whole complex of proteins to re-activate the viral transcription. In a shorter second postdoc, I identified a Heat Shock protein as binding to Ebola Virus genome, and in a later publication on which I am a collaborative author, the team demonstrated that this protein was indispensable to viral replication, making it a potential drug target.

Describe your transition from your postdoc/research background to RD: I was very involved in professional and career development during my postdoc, helping other postdocs (and myself) find the career of their dream. I became the grants and training development specialist in one of the NIH institutes, which totally opened up my love for proposal development and helping others better write how much their science would impact our society.

Describe the benefits your postdoc work provided to your skill set related to RD: I was a restless postdoc, always getting involved in “other/administrative” internships. I became a great listener and talker as well.

What words of wisdom do you have for postdocs who might consider an RD career? As a postdoc, you have cultivated the passion for science. Now, keep the breadth and forget about the depth.

What has been your best experience, so far, with your work in RD? Moving to my current position has been the best experience in research development. Before that, I felt that I was only allowed to dabble, expressing other people’s way of doing. Now, I become part of the team every time I support a new proposal development. I am learning about their subject matter so I can provide critical feedback to their proposed research. I continue to read everything about science (I am member of the AAAS, reader of Science magazine, reader of Nature and The Scientist, in addition to NSF and NIH news).

Why do you think RD is a good career choice? Well, I like the fact that I don’t have to drill too deep into one subject anymore; instead, I can dream big with a team, and differently as I move on to the next team. I like the fast pace and flexible hours. I don’t mind taking on a few hours of work at night or on weekends provided that I can work flexibly otherwise.

What other insights might be relevant to postdocs considering an RD career? Be patient and nurture your professional network. Be professional and always give the best of yourself, which is why I feel I was offered my current position!

The Transition from Postdoc to Research Development: Miquella Chavez Rose

The following is part of a limited blog series from the Strategic Alliances Committee highlighting NORDP members who have transitioned from postdoctoral positions to careers in research development.

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Miquella Chavez Rose, Executive Director, Research Triangle MRSEC

Describe your work in research development (RD): I’ve been engaged for about six months now, first as helping coordinate a NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) resubmission, then other various NSF center applications coming from the former faculty from our current MRSEC.

Describe your postdoc work: My postdoc was focused on trying to grow teeth. More specifically, we were using the ever-growing mouse incisor stem cells and trying to create a 3D biomaterial platform to control the homeostasis and differentiation of these cells into enamel producing ameloblasts.

Describe your transition from your postdoc/research background to RD: I transitioned from my postdoc into my current position as Executive Director of the Research Triangle MRSEC, and found that the proposal development and team building aspect of the resubmission was something I very much enjoyed and wanted to pursue.

Describe the benefits your postdoc work provides to your skill set related to RD: Being able to think of the science “big picture” is something really necessary for a good postdoc, and those skills come in handy in research development, as well as the independent nature of the postdoc translates well into research development.

What words of wisdom do you have for postdocs who might consider an RD career? Volunteer to be part of the grant writing process in any form in your current lab (helping write sections for you PI, or submitting your own) will help you in the long run. Also, reach out to your RD office on campus; you may be able to shadow or volunteer with their group to see if you really would enjoy the day to day experience of a RD professional.

What has been your best experience, so far, with your work in RD? Of course, it is great when you hear something you worked on was funded, but sometimes it is a simple as getting the proposal out the door, knowing you helped make it the best it could be.

Why do you think RD is a good career choice? I really like the collaborative nature of the work; when you work with a really good team, it is really fun and exciting. The work is deadline driven and can be long hours during grant season, but as a postdoc we are used to the long hours, and it’s actually less hours than a typical postdoc, and the deadline is actually a nice change from bench work, in which there is always that “next experiment.”

What other insights might be relevant to postdocs considering an RD career? The NORDP group is really a great group of people that are super friendly and helpful, so if you are thinking of this type of career, just keep in contact with the representative and they will help you get connected!

Posted on behalf of the Strategic Alliances Committee committee