A Message from Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Posted in Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

As I end my time as Dean for Research (since 2011) and at BGRO (since 2007), I want to express my thanks to all members of the GUMC research community for their relentless pursuit of the very best science and for working constantly to secure funding and support.  In fact, the FY19 year to date sponsored research dollars (as of April 2019) are $128.2M, an $11.3M over FY18 at the same time.  It truly takes a village to keep this enterprise in motion.  Beginning July 1, I will be in my lab full-time (W401, Research Building), continuing to focus my attention on the fight against breast cancer.  

I would like to highlight the accomplishments of the past year from some of the offices that reported to the Dean.  These summaries are by no means inclusive of everything, yet they reflect the dedication of the research support services provided by the Office of the Dean for Research.   During my time as Dean, we initiated new offices including the Office of Research Quality Assurance (ORQA), the Office of Research Development Services (RDS), and the Clinical Research Services Center.  We also restructured regulatory affairs to better reflect the scope of its work and is now the new Office of Research Oversight.  Other offices and functions have been restructured or replaced, for example: our new IRB system, the realignment of Environmental Health & Safety under the university umbrella, and the centralized of Shared Resources under the Dean for Research, providing oversight and more services across GUMC.   I would try to thank everyone here, but at the risk of omitting someone, know that you all have my gratitude.  Please continue to share your successes and challenges with me; you have inspired me to be a better scientist and administrator.  I look forward to our continued work in the years ahead.  

We have much to be proud of at GUMC.  Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Dean for Research; it has been an honor and a privilege.

Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Professor of Oncology

Clinical Research Services Center

In the past six months, the Clinical Research Coordinator Pool has grown from one CRC to seven members of the team, including data and regulatory managers. The pool supported four medical departments six month ago and currently supports nine departments at the medical center. This growth directly led to increases in the number of sponsored trials and investigator initiated trials this year; we continue to grow to support more PIs to develop their clinical research. You may have seen the formal announcement of this shared resource earlier this week.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

The IACUC implemented two new ways for amendments to be reviewed more expeditiously:  Veterinary Verification and Consultation (VVC) and Designated Member Review.  VVC is used for minor changes (adding/changing an analgesic or anesthetic, changing the duration or frequency of already approved procedures, etc.).  These amendments can be reviewed within a few days. Both of these review processes facilitate and speed protocol revisions, improve compliance and reduce regulatory burden on PI’s.  If you are unsure if your changes qualify for one of these review processes, please contact the IACUC office. We will always direct your amendment to the fastest allowed review process.  Our unannounced annual USDA inspection took place recently and they found no non-compliant items.   We continue to prepare for our next AAALAC accreditation site visit in summer 2020.

Research Development Services (RDS) and Office of Sponsored Research (OSR)

RDS and OSR work collaboratively to help faculty secure research funds.  RDS and OSR have been busy over the past year, assisting investigators with 645 proposal submissions and setting up 145 sponsored research awards, including 274 subcontract requests and 64 independent contractor requests.  In February, RDS began sending satisfaction surveys to investigators to capture successes and improvement opportunities.  96.8% of respondents ranked RDS as excellent for both quality and customer service. The RDS website (rds.georgetown.edu (new window)) was re-designed to improve navigation efficiency and layout. OSR moved to Building D, Suite 237 in August 2018, and completed a transition to an electronic filing system in tandem with the move. OSR has been working with UIS to build out functionality in GU PASS to track award set up and “at risk” accounts. Award set up functionality is scheduled for final testing and launch this summer. RDS and OSR staff continue to focus on professional development with team members holding 19 certifications from the Research Administrators Certification Council (RACC). Three team members hold all three RACC certifications (CRA, CPRA, CFRA), a distinction held by only a handful of individuals globally! 

Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM)

FY19 has been another busy and productive year for DCM. Census continues to increase, indicating that grant funding for animal researchers is achieving higher success levels. Current census for mouse cages is at 5,800 (compared to a low of 3,200 in FY15). The number of rats being used has also increased. Overall, the program size is now similar to where it was in FY09.  New DCM services include providing special diets or medicated water, weaning, ear tagging, tail snipping, experimental injections, blood collection, and providing medical treatments. Veterinary technicians have helped to support several external projects, and we continue to receive more requests. DCM has acquired two important new pieces of equipment this year; an ethylene oxide sterilizer and a blood chemistry analyzer. One autoclave over 20 years old was replaced. Most importantly, DCM has the most stable and well-trained staff it has had in years; the average years in service is 6.5 and one employee has been with DCM for over 21 years! Several technicians achieved AALAS technician certification this year. USDA inspections have found no non-compliance items, and there have been no significant findings by the IACUC in the past year. Despite the significant challenges of maintaining aging infrastructure and equipment necessary to support the operations of the facility with limited financial resources, DCM continues to receive high praise for its ability to provide consistent quality animal care, and for its service-oriented approach to support the University’s missions of teaching and research.