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IU School of Medicine Deans' office updates and perspectives on IUSM research

The Wilkes Blog

The TRI report card, part 2

Last week I initiated a series of blog posts about the Transforming Research Initiative. The TRI is the faculty-developed strategic plan for research at IUSM that was completed in 2013, and it’s time to report back on how well we’re doing to implement it.

The report listed six key goals for the research mission. We covered two of them last time: research themes and team science. This week, two more (and again, you can download the executive summary here  .)

Goal 3: Research Communication

We’ve worked to improve both the internal and external communications about research. You’re reading the first one — we created the Wilkes Blog as a new method to get news to the research community at the school, hopefully in a way that’s both casual and authoritative.

Second, we have brought the school of communications office and staff back to the school, after several years in which they were part of a separate university organization, IU Communications.

Third, we’ve set the groundwork for improved communication with industry with the creation of the Industry Collaboration Portal, whose web site went live earlier this year.

We put together a list of 31 internal sources of funding for research projects and made it available via the IUSM research page at Click on “Faculty Resources” then select “IUSM Pilot Funding Opportunities.”

And finally, we’re finishing work on a revision of the “26 Answers” brochure that tells IUSM’s story in the words of faculty members who have recently joined the school.

Goal 4: Cores/Centers/Institutes

Recognizing both a need and world-class expertise within the school, we are in the process of creating the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health as well as assembling the pieces for a new Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases. Development continues for the new Center for Chemical Biology and Experimental Therapeutics — key to our initiatives in translational research and personalized medicine.

Creating a new center involves a significant amount of work, but even more complex is our planning to reorganize our cores. In many instances the “recharge” model for core fees and services is not working and so we are exploring a centralized core management system.

Meanwhile, the Indiana CTSI is considering the development of “supercores” in genomics and proteomics that would incorporate capabilities at Purdue, Notre Dame and IU Bloomington.

Next week I’ll discuss how we’re progressing toward the remaining two goals, recruitment and retention, and mentoring.

The Transforming Research Initiative: A Report Card

About three years ago we started what became known as the Transforming Research Initiative at the IU School of Medicine.

It was an undertaking — by the faculty, not by me, not by the administration — to develop a new strategic plan for research in response to the changing environment for research, particularly a growing emphasis on team science projects with multiple PIs, and the ever-tightening belt applied to NIH funding.

After more than a year of effort, a final report listed six research goals. Now it’s time to describe what’s been done to prevent the TRI from becoming just another report gathering dust. I’ll go through it goal by goal, and if you need a refresher on the TRI report, you can download the executive summary here .

Goal 1: Research Themes

The TRI planning identified seven initial research themes: cancer, cardiovascular, neuroscience, obesity/metabolism, personalized medicine, health services research, and regenerative medicine.

Cancer, cardiovascular and neuroscience continue to receive substantial attention as the initial focus areas of the Strategic Research Initiative partnership with IU Health.

We’ve seen personalized medicine initiatives develop in several areas, notably at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology (with SRI funding), the IU Simon Cancer Center and a major project about to begin at Eskenazi Health. The planned Center for Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery will support the personalized medicine theme.

Health services research and the school’s emphasis on population health is represented by the creation of the Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science, and continues to build on such strengths as the Regenstrief Institute and the Children’s Health Services Research team.

Supporting the obesity/metabolism theme is the new Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, headed by Raghu Mirmira, while the new Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health advances the regenerative medicine theme.

Goal 2: Team Science

Reflecting the increasing emphasis on team science in biomedical research, the IUSM Standards of Excellence in Research for Promotion and Tenure were updated last year to include “excellence in research through contributions that have helped shape collaborative projects.” (See the “About Promotion and Tenure” page on the Office of Faculty Affairs web site.)

Increasingly, we are also making school space allocation decisions with research themes and team science in mind — recent examples include the musculoskeletal and diabetes centers, and on a larger scale, the IU Neuroscience Research Building.

Don’t forget about ReSEARCH Connect, our powerful tool to find research collaborators.

Next time, I’ll cover two more goals: research communications and cores, centers and institutes.

Our friends at IACUC have eased reporting requirements

Filed under: IACUC,Research — Tags: , , , , — David Wilkes on February 9, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

Good news for most of you who use animals in research: You have one less report to prepare.

Starting March 1, most annual research protocols will no longer be required to go through the annual continuation process and so investigators will no longer need to complete the annual review form.

The change was implemented by the IUSM Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee after evaluating the annual continuation requirements from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

There are some protocols that will still need to go through the annual continuation review process:

  • VA studies
  • Protocols with USDA covered species
  • Protocols with Pain Category E
  • Other protocols at the discretion of the veterinarian or the IACUC

And, as before, protocols are approved for 36 months and if activities will continue after that, a new approved protocol is required.

So if you are not in one of the exception categories, make good use of your new free time!

Meet Tricia Wright, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Filed under: Faculty,Graduate education,Postdocs,Research — Tags: , , , — David Wilkes on January 28, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

Here at the IU School of Medicine we employ approximately 200 postdoctoral scholars, early career scientists gaining research experience, expertise and, hopefully, some publications too.

The school and mentoring faculty benefit from the work our postdocs perform, and we have an obligation to ensure that they receive the training and guidance needed to help them pursue independent careers, whether in academic medicine, in private industry or elsewhere.

To help ensure that, we have recruited Tricia Wright to be the director of the IUSM Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Dr. Wright, who was awarded her doctorate in genetics and molecular biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, comes to IU from Duke University, where she completed a postdoc performing breast cancer related research in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. She was chair of professional development for the Duke University Postdoctoral Association and co-founder of the Duke Diversity Postdoc Alliance.

She has a long list of services and activities planned for the office, starting with establishing an IUSM Postdoctoral Association, creating an Office of Postdoctoral Affairs advisory committee consisting of faculty and postdocs to further develop and refine policies and commonly used documents. In addition, she plans to host postdoc orientations and professional development programs for postdocs.

If you have suggestions or questions, Tricia can be reached at

You have a reprieve, but you still need to prepare for the new NIH biosketch

Filed under: Basic science,Faculty,Grants,Research,Team science/collaboration — Tags: , , — David Wilkes on December 17, 2014 @ 8:25 am

Like it or not, a new format for the NIH biosketch is still on the way, despite the postponement of the deadline from January 25 to May 25 when it will become mandatory for proposals.

Fundamentally, the new format is meant to provide a better description of the quality of the applicant’s research by describing “up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research.” That information goes into section C, which no longer asks for “Selected Peer-Review Publications,” but wants “Contribution to Science” instead.

For each of those significant contributions that you list you’ll include the central findings, the impact “on the progress of science” or the application to health or technology, your role in the work and more — including up to four peer-reviewed publications and/or other “non-publication research products” such as video products, patents, software, educational aids and many others. You’ll also need to provide an Internet URL link to a full list of your publications residing in a digital database.

In section A, the personal statement, you’re now invited to list up to four publications relevant to your qualifications for the proposal as well as specific contributions to science that are in addition to (i.e., different from) those in section C.

Oh, and the new biosketch can be five pages, up from four.

For some perspective and history on the new format you can read the “Rock Talk” blog posts by Sally Rockey, deputy director for extramural research at the NIH. I’ve listed the relevant posts among the resources at the end of this item. The often harsh comments at the end of the blog posts indicate some of the controversy about the format, which I’m not going to rehash here. (Keep in mind that people with strongly negative views are much more likely to post in these forums than others.)

Will this new format mean more work for investigators? I’m sure it will, at least initially. (Note that researchers are encouraged to use the SciENcv service as a way to create and update biosketches.) Will it improve the grant review process? To me, that’s hard to say. The new format may make it easier for applicants to report important contributions in this era of team science.

I’ve only scratched the surface here; you really need to acquaint yourself with the details. May 25 will be here soon, and you can use the new format sooner if you want. Here are some linked documents to help:

Guide Notice for the new biosketch: NOT-OD-15-032

New biosketch instructions and sample

Rock Talk, May 22, 2014: Changes to the Biosketch

Rock Talk, Nov. 26, 2014: Implementing the Modified NIH Biosketch Format

Rock Talk, Dec. 9, 2014: Following Up on the Biosketch Implementation

Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv)





Get your sources of internal pilot funding here

Filed under: Basic science,Clinical research,Faculty,Grants,Research — Tags: , , — David Wilkes on December 10, 2014 @ 10:22 am

Have you ever wondered why there isn’t a place that will let you see all the internal pilot funding opportunities available at the IU School of Medicine? We wondered that too. So now there is.

A list of 31 internal sources of funding to get your project off the ground or get the additional experimental data you need is now available on the school’s web site.

Along with the funding sources, the list includes the annual award amounts and a link to a web page for more information.

To access the list, go to the IUSM web site research page at Click on “Faculty Resources” on the menu bar, then select “IUSM Pilot Funding Opportunities.” You may be asked to enter your IU CAS logon information because the information is housed on the Dean’s Office Sharepoint site.

Many of these are opportunities that IUSM faculty are likely to be aware of, such as the Biomedical Research Grants and the awards from the Showalter Trust. Others may be new to many, such as opportunities available via IUPUI. So have a look — there may well be something to help push your research forward.


Some good rankings, and hard work that paid off

In a world of competing top-25 football polls, US News and World Report rankings of seemingly everything and endless Internet lists like “Top 10 Alternative Uses for Eppendorf Tubes,” you wouldn’t think we’d be excited about another ranking.

But we are.

This fall, when we tallied up our National Institutes of Health awards for federal fiscal year 2014 and compared them with our peers, the news was good.

First, our faculty brought in upwards of $109 million in fiscal year 2014, more than $12 million more than the year before.

Second, in terms of total NIH grant dollars, our rank among all schools of medicine rose from 41st to 37th, and among publicly supported schools our rank rose from 19th to 16th. Not only were these substantial changes, but the highest we’ve been for some time.

As you know, we’ve been implementing some initiatives to boost our success rates with NIH grants, such as the peer review and mentoring committees and their counterparts at CTSI, the cancer center and the Wells Center. We’ve used the investments in the School from the Lilly Endowment for the Physician Scientist Initiative and IU Health for the Strategic Research Initiative to bring in some talented new faculty.

But in the main these results come from a group of talented and persistent researchers who have worked hard in times of very tight money to produce excellent research proposals that get funded.

We’re not calculating rankings for the sake of rankings, but these changes send powerful messages about the quality of the School, especially at a time when we’re out recruiting for several important positions.

So congratulations, and take a moment to bask in the knowledge of hard work well done. Okay, enough of that. We’ve all got to get back to work now.

A new faculty mentoring program — our latest investment in young researchers and the school’s research enterprise

Today in the latest edition of INScope we’re announcing our newest initiative to support and encourage our research faculty — in particular junior researchers — as we make our way in the new world of tight funding and miniscule paylines at the NIH.

Introducing the Independent Investigator Incubator, or I3, or as some of you have heard me say, “I-Cubed.” The I3 was created by, and will be led by Aaron Carroll, now the associate dean for research mentoring at IUSM.

The idea is to spin off successful researchers similar to the way business incubators are created to spin off successful new businesses. Instead of offering shared office equipment and legal services, we’re offering senior faculty “supermentors.”

To quote Aaron, “we’re offering resources and the ability to be paired with very successful faculty members who have agreed to make a serious commitment to the personal and professional success of junior independent investigators.”

In addition, there will be support services available including a professional grant writer and a biostatistician.

Mentoring is an important goal in our strategic plan, the Transforming Research Initiative, and the I3 also is supported by the Indiana CTSI. An I3 portal is under development on the Indiana CTSI web site.

Thinking of the work of enhancing and growing our research enterprise as a complex puzzle, then the I3 provides another important piece, along with our Industry Collaboration Portal led by JaiPal Singh, our incentives to encourage T32 training grants, the Project Development Teams and other CTSI initiatives and our Peer Review and Mentoring Committees.

I particularly want to remind you about the Peer Review and Mentoring Committees, which are ready and waiting to help turn those “oh-so-close” grant applications into successful resubmissions. You can learn more and get started on the PRMC section of the CTSI web site.

A new leader for the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Filed under: Basic science,Faculty,Research — Tags: , , , , — David Wilkes on August 13, 2014 @ 11:19 am

The official announcements are coming soon but I’ll let you know now: After an intensive search, we have selected Lang Li as the new director of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

Lang has a strong vision for further embedding the center into the research enterprise of the school of medicine. Bioinformatics is key to many of our research projects and proposals, and its importance will only grow.

Lang has done an excellent job as interim director since founding Director Keith Dunker stepped down and I know you will join me in congratulating both men for their work in creating and building this important center.

Thanks also to the members of the search committee who worked diligently to find the right leader for this vital center at the school.


Time is running out to check your Sunshine Act report

Filed under: Clinical research,Faculty,Sunshine Act — Tags: , — David Wilkes on August 12, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

If you do clinical work and you have put off checking your record in the new Open Payments web site tracking industry payments to doctors, here’s my advice: Stop procrastinating!

On Sept. 30 the data about industry payments to physicians will be made public as required by the Sunshine Act. That means all payments that a pharmaceutical or device manufacturing company made to you — or thinks it made to you — for the past year will be available for everyone to review, download and do with as they will.

So you want it to be accurate.

You have until Aug. 27 look at your personal record at the Open Payments web site, see if there are any reported payments you disagree with and mark them as disputed.

Reviewing your file is a two-stage process. First you must go to and create an account to prove that you are you and thus authorized to review the data about you. The second stage is to check the information. The third stage, if needed, is to file a dispute with the agency. Did I mention you need to do that by Aug. 27?

I can tell you from personal experience this is not something you can expect to do in 15 minutes. You need to set aside a good two hours or more to finish the process. If you have to quit before you’ve finished, you’ll need to start over when you return to the web site.

If you dispute information, you have to resolve differences directly with the manufacturer. If you don’t reach a resolution, the payment will be published and marked “disputed.” If you do nothing by Aug. 27, payments will remain in the database until the next round in 2015, even if you later dispute the report.

So, now may be a good time to get started.

Here are some links for more information:

Information we’ve published in INScope:

Information from the AAMC:

Tips and tricks published by Stanford University:

Frequently asked questions:


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