The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has begun rolling out a series of projects for investigators in basic, translational, and clinical research that will streamline the research administration structure and make it easier to initiate and submit protocols and compete for funding.
“We are transforming and improving the research administration enterprise on behalf of our investigators,” says Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “This vital endeavor underscores our commitment to supporting innovative and highly competitive research that will lead to groundbreaking treatments for human diseases.”
This initiative—called the Research Administration Reengineering Program—is focused on speeding up the protocol review process and improving investigator satisfaction. It is being rolled out at a challenging time for all institutions, which are competing for a declining pool of research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As a leader in biomedical research, Mount Sinai continues to rank among the top 20 institutions in NIH funding, and third in research dollars per principal investigator.
Hugh A. Sampson, MD, Kurt Hirschhorn Professor of Pediatrics and Dean for Translational Biomedical Sciences, and Kumar Chatani, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, are Co-chairs of the Reengineering Program. Phyllis Schnepf, Associate Dean for Education and Translational Research Operations, is the program’s implementation leader.
Mount Sinai’s research administration structure is comprised of more than a dozen offices and committees, including the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and the Grants and Contracts Office (GCO).
“We are establishing better administrative practices and policies to create the most efficient system possible for our investigators and staff while maintaining full compliance with all regulatory requirements,” says Dr. Sampson.
According to Mr. Chatani, “The program will be tied to quantifiable goals for improving research administration operations. This will be a data-driven process in all respects.”
One of the first high-impact reengineering research projects implemented was the Grant Application Resource Center (GARC), which offers tools and resources to assist investigators and staff in the preparation of grant applications. GARC includes standardized language about Mount Sinai’s programs, and a Research Wizard that guides investigators in determining which regulatory applications or reviews are required in order to submit their research protocols for approval. This can be accessed by logging onto www.icahn.mssm.edu/garc.
A streamlined Investigational Drug Service (IDS) submission process for research protocols using routine care drugs is now available, as well.
“These projects and the many others currently under way are all geared toward making the administrative requirements for starting research more efficient and intuitive for investigators,” says Ms. Schnepf.
Future rollouts will include a new electronic administration system, Ideate, which will replace InfoEd, and a new Office of Research Services (ORS) that will guide investigators and staff with internal and external regulatory oversight submissions, and administrative processes for preparing grant applications. A comprehensive new web portal for research is also being created.