NORDP Liaison Report: Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO)

RD professionals and corporate relations officers advance research when they work together

Companies need things from universities: graduates, access to facilities, access to intellectual capital. Universities need things from companies: jobs for graduates, help with commercialization, funding.

Universities’ corporate relations officers help connect companies with universities, but they may lack deep knowledge of the research landscape. They may not know about the promising postdoctoral fellow’s innovation to transform the field, the unique core facility to address a testing need, or the multidisciplinary team to work with on a large proposal. That’s why research development and corporate relations make a great team: their complementary expertise is a natural area for collaboration to strengthen the research enterprise.

This is where the relationship between NORDP and NACRO comes in.

Don Takehara, NORDP’s NACRO Liaison

NORDP’s Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) has been engaging with NACRO for several years, exploring the natural synergies between these two university functions. NORDP’s volunteer liaison responsibility is shifting to Don Takehara, Associate Director for Research, College of Engineering Office of Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

With more than 500 members, NACRO provides professional development and best practices related to university-industry corporate relations. “As higher education plays an increasing role in economic development, and in light of the challenging fiscal environment in which many of our institutions operate, it is more important than ever for colleges and universities to create and maintain dynamic relationships with business and industry,” the NACRO website declares.

In support of his RD role, Takehara has been a member of NACRO for eight years, even before he joined NORDP. He recently agreed to take over the NACRO liaison responsibilities previously held by NORDP Board member Rachel Dresbeck, who is a co-chair of SAC.

The relationship between the two organizations began in ­2017, when Dresbeck and NORDP Board member Peggy Sundermeyer presented on research development at the NACRO conference in Seattle and met with the NACRO Board to explore how the two organizations could work together . 

“This partnership with NACRO fits well into SAC’s strategic priorities by strengthening our reciprocal relationships with sister organizations. We now have a memorandum of understanding between the two groups, providing benefits such as complementary registrations at conferences. Our work informs one another and provides a type of competitive intelligence for both groups,” Dresbeck says.

Serving as a SAC liaison has also benefitted Dresbeck’s own RD work, helping her institution initiate new relationships with local businesses, both large and small. She encourages NORDP members to take advantage of this partnership with NACRO, which can help them work more effectively with their own corporate and foundation development colleagues.

Takehara echoes the benefits of RD professionals engaging with NACRO and their own universities’ corporate and foundation staff. “It’s important for corporate relations and research development members of the two groups to learn how to work better together,” he says.

An example of joint activity includes presentations at the 2018 NORDP Conference in Arlington, where Dresbeck and Eileen Murphy, Kerry Morris (both NACRO and NORDP members), as well as NACRO member Brett Burns presented case studies on the value of working together.  Murphy and Morris have been instrumental in deepening this important relationship. The following year, NACRO’s Co-presidents, Megan Greenawalt from the University of Pittsburgh and Adam Johnson from the Michigan Technological University, led the Leadership Forum at the NORDP 2019 Annual Research Development Conference. And following that, NORDP’s 2019 Great Lakes Regional Meeting, chaired by Jill Jividen and Beth LaPensee, included three sessions about RD and corporate relations and was led by Takehara.  Sessions included center directors discussing how to engage industry partners on large-scale proposals, corporate executives explaining how to engage industry in research initiatives, and a corporate relations panel discussing their perspectives on RD.

Many resources on the NACRO website are significant to strong RD strategy. For example, Takehara served the NACRO Industry Perspectives Subcommittee for its “Research Report: “Industry Perspective on Academic Corporate Relations” that can be found here.

More information on NACRO and the NORDP Liaison program can be found on the SAC liaison page, including a NACRO “Profile” link with members-only information for NORDP members. For more information about serving as a NORDP Liaison, please contact Karen Eck,  who serves as SAC co-chair, along with Dresbeck, Gretchen Kiser, and Ann Maglia.

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.

NORDP Liaison Report: OCLC Report on Social Interoperability in Research Support

Jeff Agnoli in Ohio State’s Research Development Office serves as a NORDP liaison to OCLC, a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, research, and community programs. He recently shared an OCLC report, in which he and other RD interviewees participated.

Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise, by Rebecca Bryant, Annette Dortmund, and Brian Lavoie, explores the social and structural norms that shape cross-campus collaboration and offers a conceptual model of key university stakeholders in research support. Information about their goals, interests, expertise, and the importance of cross-campus relationships was synthesized from interviews. The report describes the network of campus units involved in major categories of research support services and concludes with recommendations to establish and maintain successful cross-campus relationships. Download the free report at: https://oc.lc/social-interoperability.  

Impact of Social Sciences and Humanities 2020

The Network for Advancing and Evaluating the Societal Impact of Science (AESIS Network) invites research managers, science policy makers, funders, knowledge exchange experts and other relevant professionals from all parts of the world together to engage with one another on an advanced online conference platform. The Impact of Social Sciences and Humanities conference will be held October 14-16, 2020.

AESIS is offering NORDP members a registration discount to attend. See flyer and draft program attached.

NORDP Liaison Report: Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS)

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Kim Patten

With a holistic view of the research life cycle and an emphasis on societal impacts of research, Kim Patten, director of Research Development Services, leads a team of RD professionals at the University of Arizona (UArizona). She also serves as a NORDP Strategic Alliances Liaison to ARIS, an organization formerly known as the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI).

Patten, who joined NORDP in 2014, became a NORDP liaison to ARIS in late 2019. She hoped to attend their national conference in 2019 as it was located in Tucson, AZ (home to UArizona). However, the ARIS conference was scheduled at the same time of the NORDP conference, so she had to miss it but was able to send members of the UArizona RD team. In this time of COVID-19, her liaison work so far has been simple but informative conversations via phone or Zoom.

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Jennifer Fields

She admits some of this has been a bit self-serving, helping support the launch of a new Office of Societal Impacts at UArizona.  In Nov. 2019, RD professional Jen Fields transitioned from the Research Development unit to director of the Office of Societal Impacts. Fields was able to present at the 2020 ARIS virtual conference and currently sits on the ARIS Leadership Council. Patten and Fields’ units continue collaborating together in support of high-quality proposals demonstrating a synergy between support units.

“The societal impact of research has been one of our university’s priorities for a while,” Patten says, noting that she serves a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which is defined by federal law.  For example, UArizona maintains both a Hispanic Serving Initiatives Office and a Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office, which serves individuals from 22 sovereign federally designated tribal nations as well as the individuals wishing to conduct research in collaboration with the nations.

“In the future, I look forward to deeper engagement with our ARIS colleagues, seeking opportunities to co-present and inform best practices,” Patten says. In fact, ARIS will be presenting a 90-minute session titled, “Incorporating Societal Impacts into Proposal Development” on Monday, September 14, 2020 at 2pm EDT as part of the Virtual NORDP 2020.

Her passion for societal impact has been nurtured throughout her career.  She was previously associate director of the Arizona Geological Survey, where she managed a DOE Center and was CoPI on an NSF community engagement project. She began her career at a science-based non-profit and has a master’s degree in environmental planning and resource management.

In addition to serving the Strategic Alliances Committee as a liaison, Patten is chair of the nominating committee, having served on that committee for four years. She also has participated as both mentor and mentee, and is a member of the Leadership and Career & Professional Development Peer Mentoring Group.

Patten encourages NORDP members to consider becoming a liaison to a group important to them. “Be passionate about the organization you want to liaise with.  In addition to building new relationships with the partner organization, this is an excellent opportunity for you to get more familiar with NORDP,” she says.

For more information about the NORDP Strategic Alliances Liaison Program, visit the committee page https://www.nordp.org/nordp-liaison.

Compiled by Sharon Pound, Strategic Alliances Committee

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.

NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Alexis Nagel

Who: Alexis Nagel, PhD, Research Instructor, MUSC College of Nursing
Where: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Number of Years in RD: 4 (Officially)
Length of NORDP Membership: 3

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

I transitioned from the bench to RD in 2016. Towards the end of my postdoc tenure I knew that I no longer wanted to pursue a traditional academic career; around the same time, I started working with a senior faculty member who neededNagel,Alexis-AcademicAffairsa great deal of help preparing and submitting federal grants. It was then that I discovered untapped skills in grant writing as well as an affinity for this type of work. A position opened up at my institution’s central RD office about a year later and I was able to land the role based upon that experience. There, I worked primarily on large, infrastructure/capacity-building grants and led grant writing training workshops for early career faculty. I recently transitioned to a new role within the MUSC College of Nursing to help expand overall research funding for that college. I am now providing more one-on-one support to faculty with grant writing and strategy development, which I really enjoy.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?

I joined NORDP in 2017 and have attended two annual meetings. In 2019, I started volunteering for the N-ROAD working group that is building a set of adaptable RD training resources to help research offices implement their own onboarding programs. I also participated in the National Postdoc Association (NPA) annual meeting along with Samar Sengupta, the official NPA liaison. As NORDP representatives, we helped answer questions about the RD career path and promoted NORDP resources available to postdocs. This year I am participating in the NORDP Mentoring Program for the first time, as both a mentor and mentee.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

I have met so many wonderful individuals through NORDP! The organization has really facilitated my ability to connect professionally with others in the field, particularly those who share my passion for building bridges to alternative career paths for scientists. It truly feels like a community.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

The networking and professional education opportunities offered through NORDP have been quite valuable. Learning about different institutional environments, funding priorities, and career options in RD has helped me better assess my own professional goals.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

The trainee membership option, which offers a reduced annual rate compared to the full membership fee, is a great way for postdocs to try out NORDP resources. I know several NORDP members who worked quite hard to get this option rolled out, and I would really encourage postdocs to take advantage of it!

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

For postdocs who aren’t yet members of NORDP, I suggest tuning in to the NPA’s My Postdoc Monthly webinar on August 5, 2020 to find out more about RD. This will be presented by me, Samar Sengupta, PhD (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center), and Kristen Scott, PhD (Moffitt Cancer Center): https://www.nationalpostdoc.org/events/eventdetails.aspx?id=1396321

Next, talk to someone who works in RD to get a sense of the field and determine what transferrable skills you might possess. Consider reaching out to NORDP members at your institution or find us on social media (LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alexisnagel-phd, or follow: @NORDP_official, @AnonDumboOctopi, and others) to connect, set up informational interviews, and build your networks. As I mentioned above, consider signing up for a NORDP trainee membership to gain additional exposure and access to job boards, numerous career resources, mentorship opportunities, and a lot of great people who want to help!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

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.

NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Samarpita Sengupta

Who: Samarpita Sengupta, Instructor, Director of Neurosciences Research Development
Where: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Number of Years in RD: 4.5 years
Length of NORDP Membership: 3.5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

I started in RD in 2015, having been recruited as a Scientific Research Writer in the newly formed Neuroscience Research Development office at UT Southwestern Medical Center. After 3.5 years of postdoc, I was sure that the traditional route of postdoc to academic faculty position did not meet my interests, needs or life priorities. I reassessed the skills I possessed and realized that writing/editing was what I was good at. I did a lot of informational interviews senguptaand decided to apply to this position not knowing what Research Development meant. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that this fit my interests, goals and ambitions so well. We built our RD office from the ground up. We mostly work with individual investigators submitting to the NIH and other biomedical funding agencies, including state and private funding. We also work on large grants and deliver a lot of education.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I joined NORDP in 2017. I have attended all three NORDP conferences since, and have presented posters and/or talks at all three. At the first conference, I was browsing committees and heard Peggy Sundermeyer asking for volunteers for liaisons from the Strategic Alliances committee. I volunteered to be the liaison between NORDP and the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), since I had been involved with the NPA during my postdoc. I attended two NPA conferences as a NORDP liaison and through the demands of postdocs we spoke with, I chaired the working group that created NROAD, the resource that RD offices can use to create internship/training/onboarding programs to help people new to RD get a hands-on understanding of the tasks involved. I was also recruited by Kathy Cataneo to assist with the Member Services subcommittee on creating the new member categories. It was gratifying to both create NROAD and make it available to all NORDP membership as well as help with creation of the Trainee and Emeritus categories of NORDP members. I have helped with the Ambassador program for last year’s conference. I currently serve as the MSC liaison to new trainee members. I also volunteer on the NORDP mentoring committee, have participated in the mentoring program as a mentor and a mentee and currently serve as a facilitator of mentor-mentee pairs and on the RD mentor training subcommittee.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

NORDP has become home and NORDP members are my people!! Before joining this organization, I browsed a couple of organizations related to grants, but at NORDP, I didn’t have to explain to people what I did! It was also very heartening to see the diversity at NORDP, not only in the people, but in the paths they had taken to a RD career. I have learned so much from everyone! I have gained a mentor through the NORDP mentoring program who has helped me enormously. I have also received mentorship from the NORDP leadership, from the leadership of the committees I have served on, and from several senior and peer NORDP members. I am not naming names because of the fear of inadvertently leaving someone off! I have made friendships with NORDP colleagues, and I will be presenting at the virtual NORDP conference with several NORDP colleagues.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

Being a member of NORDP and passively following the listserv helped me gain a lot of knowledge about RD and I have been able to build on programs at my institution using that knowledge. In addition, actively volunteering with NORDP has helped me make invaluable networks throughout the country. I was truly honored and humbled to receive the NORDP Rising Star award last year! This has definitely helped me gain some recognition at my institution.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from post doctoral positions?

For people interested in RD, NORDP provides several great resources, I will list a few: 1) The listserv, where passively gaining information and knowledge will help postdocs get an idea of the conversations, language and jargon of the field, which will definitely give them a leg-up in a job interview. 2) Networks: Participating in NORDP circles, committees or regions or even knowing who in their institution is a part of NORDP and therefore, doing RD, will help postdocs build valuable networks. 3) NORDP job board: This is self-explanatory! 4) RD101: This is a course that is being offered by senior NORDP members and will be a great resource for those seeking to get a head start in RD. 4) NROAD: This is a resource developed for RD offices to create internship programs. Postdocs can go through such programs in their institutional RD offices and get hands-on training in RD tasks. 5) Other NORDP resources: NORDP website and the blog is a treasure trove of resources, reading materials, videos and articles. One can spend days in there reading and understanding what RD is and how diverse it is. 6) Trainee membership: A lot of these resources are available for NORDP members. Postdocs and others who have not had a RD job can become NORDP members using the reduced fee trainee membership and avail all these resources.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

Attending the national and regional conferences are always a great idea. This year, it can be done in the comfort of your own home! I am a big believer in volunteering and the immense two way benefits to the organization and your own career that come because of it. I encourage them to seek out opportunities to help and be involved, whether it is on a committee, subcommittee or a working group. There are several ways to get involved. Serve as a mentor, serve as a career navigator for new trainee members, join a circle and contribute, the possibilities are endless and we always need more people!

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

I encourage new trainee members to respond to the listserv, even if it is to ask a question. Since we are all service oriented, we are all eager to answer questions! I encourage them to find committees they can serve on, and build their networks. I am working on a pilot program with the mentoring committee to pair each trainee member with a “career navigator”, people who have gone through similar career pathways as theirs. I encourage them to reach out to these people, build these relationships and use those to their advantage. I encourage them to apply to the NORDP mentoring program.

I encourage postdocs who aren’t members of NORDP yet, to tune in to a webinar we are presenting for the National Postdoctoral Association My Postdoc Monthly webinar next month to find out more about RD as a career path. https://www.nationalpostdoc.org/events/eventdetails.aspx?id=1396321

If they think this is the right fit, then I encourage them to consider reaching out to NORDP members in their institutions or find us on social media (Follow @NORDP_official and me, @AnonDumboOctopi and others), set up informational interviews, connect and build your networks! And finally, I encourage them to consider becoming trainee members and gain additional exposure and access to resources and jobs!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

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.

NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Kristen Scott

Who: Kristen Scott, PhD, Scientific Development Officer
Where: Moffitt Cancer Center
Number of Years in RD: Officially – 2; Unofficially – 10
Length of NORDP Membership: 2.5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

Like many other postdocs that transitioned into RD, I started engaging in research development activities during my graduate and postdoctoral training – I just didn’t know what it was called at the time. I would proofread colleagues’ manuscripts and grants and provide feedback on organization, scientific soundness, flow, etc. I enjoyed helping others achieve their goals.0027-Kristen Scott2MB

It wasn’t until 2017, when I was looking to transition out of the lab, that I learned that RD was a ‘thing’ and that it could provide a rewarding and fruitful career. I recognized that my organization didn’t have someone fulfilling that role for our faculty so I wrote a white paper, using NORDP’s resources, outlining the need for RD services at Moffitt, what an office could potentially look like, and what specific services I thought would benefit our faculty and their needs. I presented this paper to my current boss and senior leadership, with the support of my postdoctoral mentor, and gained support for this idea. As a result of the white paper discussion, a senior leader took a chance on me to help them with an upcoming P01 grant proposal in an RD capacity. From there, Moffitt took a chance on me and created my current position. I’m currently an RD office of one, tasked with assisting our faculty with generating highly competitive complex grants and helping to build an infrastructure for RD at our institute.

More specifically, I’m focused on elevating Moffitt’s portfolio of large team science awards. I help our faculty put together well organized and founded applications through effective project management, organization, editing, template building, communication with state and federal agencies, and occasional match making of expertise. I also support Moffitt’s P30 Cancer Center Support Grant through provision of project management, ongoing data management, writing, and editing services for annual progress reports and renewal applications.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?

I learned about NORDP as I started to learn about RD in 2017 and got the opportunity to go to my first NORDP conference in 2018 through the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)’s relationship with NORDP. Through this inter-institutional relationship, I met Drs. Samarpita Sengupta and Alexis Nagel and presented posters at both NORDP and NPA national meeting. We are currently working together on presenting an informational webinar for the NPA highlighting what research development is and how NORDP serves the RD professional community.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

When I started in the field, I didn’t know anyone. Everyone that I have interacted with at NORDP is warm and welcoming, and the NORDP community is truly a collaborative environment where everyone wants everyone else to succeed. Because of this environment, I’ve met people that I keep in touch with from across the country, and a few institutions have offered to let me shadow them as I build resources at my own institution.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP helped me establish research development services at my institution by providing wonderfully rich resources on what RD is and what it looks like at different institutions. It helped me gain colleagues that understood the transition that I was going through and what leadership looked like in this field.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from post doctoral positions?

NORDP provides really meaningful resources for post doctorates looking to transition into RD from the novel internship programs to shadowing RD offices to webinars to providing realistic salary numbers for the field. NORDP really provides a full education of what the field is and where you can go as part of it. Additionally, NORDP’s partnership with the NPA really helps build a bridge into the field by provided RD professionals to talk with, articles in the POSTDOCket, and opportunities to speak with postdocs through their monthly webinar series.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a NORDP member, even if you’ve never spoken with them before. My first interaction with a NORDP member was with Joanna Downer – I cold emailed her following her Science article about RD to ask several questions. She took the time to email me back with copious amounts of advice and suggestions related to my questions. It blew me away and made me want to get more involved in the organization. After joining, I realized that she is an exceptional steward of the organization but that everyone else in NORDP is just as enthusiastic about RD and all are willing to share their experiences.

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

Do your research – really make sure that RD is right for you by engaging in informational interviews with RD professionals, taking advantage of RD internship programs, becoming a member of NORDP, and attending the NORDP annual conference. Take advantage of NORDP’s mentoring program to help build a personal council of mentors within the field that are committed to helping you advance your career. Also, don’t forget the mentors and sponsors that helped you along the way – they are valuable viewpoints for your new career path.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

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.

NORDP Liaison Report: NIH Regional Meeting

Submitted by Samarpita Sengupta

The NORDP Strategic Alliance Committee launched the “Huddle” initiative for NORDP members to connect with each other at the various conferences that Research Development Professionals attend. From Science of Team science conferences to the topic-specific Society meetings (such as the Society of Neuroscience), these conferences are a great way for RD professionals to get to know each other beyond the National Meeting, network and have a familiar name and face at a conference.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Regional meeting was held from November 6th – 8th 2019 at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, AZ. The two day seminar with a one day pre-conference workshop covered topics ranging from upcoming changes to SF424 forms, explanation of changes in human subjects requirements, loan repayment program, NIH’s initiatives with diversity and inclusion and dealing with the issues of misconduct, to general grant writing instructions and also featured a fun mock study section.

The venue being in the backyard of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Both institutions have phenomenal Research Development offices led by outstanding NORDP member and Nominations Committee Chair, Kim Patten and our intrepid NORDP Board member, Faye Farmer respectively. Both institutions booths and several volunteers helping with the seminar. On how she worked to have an active Research Development presence at the NIH conference, Faye said “I heard through an active NCURA member that the NIH Regional Seminar was heading to Phoenix. I immediately saw how my office could be a connector across the two other state universities in Arizona. To that end, I reached out to my contacts at those schools, including fellow NORDP member, Kim Patten at the University of Arizona and hatched a plan. Our events manager dedicated a chunk of her time for several months to working with the NIH representative, the event managers, and ASU faculty and staff.”

Faye and her team designed a collaboration fair, where ASU and UA representatives staffed tables during the pre-conference workshops and spoke to attendees about connecting to resources at the two universities. Tours were available to seminar attendees across all three days at two of ASU’s campuses (Downtown and Tempe campuses), led by staff and students, but featuring faculty members at each tour stop. Finally, NIH leadership members were invited to attend a no-host dinner with university leaders. For more information on how this all was possible, feel free to email RDEvents@asu.edu.

Knowing that there will be colleagues and hoping to find other friendly faces, I sent out a request for a huddle at the conference. What followed can only be attributed to the zeal of NORDP members, the enthusiasm in this community to learn from each other and the many professional and personal friendships that can result from being part of a collective.Picture2

Within a few days of sending the email, 15 people emailed me back, even some who are not NORDP members yet, but knew someone who knew someone who got the email, had emailed back wanting to connect. The result: a contingent of 15 people met at a Mexican restaurant for fabulous (and great looking!) food, good company, great conversations and networking. We walked away from the seminar with knowledge and having made new friends and renewed some old friendships!

Moral of the story: If NORDP members find themselves planning to go to a conference without a friendly face, always remember to HUDDLE!

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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 HERE. 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

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