Research at SPH

Research is an important career component for many faculty members at a “soft money” institution such as BUSPH. Successful research careers are built on many component skills: generating ideas; finding collaborators; seeking funding sources; writing competitive funding applications; hiring and managing research teams; navigating the clinical research waters to achieve IRB approval; recruiting and retaining research subjects; and managing budgets, data and reports.

Understanding your needs and planning ahead

I remember the first person who poured cold water on my jubilation when I was notified my first R-01 was funded by saying “now the difficult part begins.” Fortunately there are many resources at BUSPH and BUMC to deal with these steps. Unfortunately many of these resources are available intermittently and never when you need them, so planning ahead and anticipating needs are critical to keeping your sanity while you conduct your research.

Identifying available research-related resources

Faculty experience many needs for development in their areas of research over the course of their careers. Appropriate resources must be selected by faculty, in conjunction with advice and approval by chairs, from the many resources available at BUSPH, BUMC, BU, and from professional associations and organizations.

Suggested research development resources for faculty in different career phases include: finding potential funding sources; enhancing skills in preparing applications; finding collaborators; obtaining internal reviews of grant applications and assistance with reapplications; and managing research resources and research teams. Fortunately, there are sources of help at BUSPH/BUMC in all these categories. This website aims to make them easier to identify.

Helpful SPH contacts

The Associate Dean for Research and the SPH Research Committee are dedicated to providing assistance and guidance for SPH faculty research. Their names and contact information, and links to the Research Committee’s minutes, are provided to facilitate communication.

Share your favorites

The following links include many resources I have found useful over the years. Share your comments and any of your favorites that I may have missed. Please critique their utility!

BUSPH Research Resources by Topic

Resources for Junior Faculty:

  • BUMC Academy for Faculty Advancement: Junior faculty should consider applying to institutional programs such as the Academy for Faculty Advancement (formerly the Early Career Faculty Development Program) offered through the Department of Medicine but open to candidates from all schools at BUMC. Several of the presentations from this program, in particular finding funding resources and writing grants, are available as podcasts.
  • Clinical Research Education Programs: Junior faculty should also consider participating in selected sessions of the Clinical Research Seminar series sponsored by the Clinical Research Resources Office. Beyond just obtaining an NIH certificate, these seminars tackle topics of recruitment, retention and consent in complex environments.

Resources for Faculty at all Career Levels:

  • Identifying Funding Sources: For faculty members at any career stage who are preparing new grant proposals, the first step (after having a good idea!) is contemplating funding sources. The BU Office of Sponsored Programs has a thoughtful and thorough slide presentation on possible sources: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/medicine/files/2010/10/MATERIAL-COMBINED.pdf
  • Grant Writing Workshops and Resources: Translating a good research idea into a fundable grant application is a learned skill. Signing up for a grant writing workshop is useful for new investigators. We will post information when this workshop is scheduled again, but detailed instructions are available through the following link: Grant Application Writer’s Workbook.
  • Review of grant proposals is available with sufficient advance notice within many departments, or by arrangement of the Associate Dean for Research.
  • Faculty Development series by the BUSM Department of Medicine: Budgeting for grants is one component of preparing a proposal. Resubmitting a grant is a painful but necessary part of successful grant funding. These topics will be addressed in the upcoming Faculty Development series by the Department of Medicine, open to the entire BUMC community. Presentations, times and locations for this coming year are found at http://www.bumc.bu.edu/facdev-medicine/seminars/schedule-2011-2012/
  • SPH Pilot Research Program: Funding to develop the pilot data required for a competitive formal grant application may be obtained through the SPH pilot grant program. The money is intended to jump-start grant applications by providing for the collection of pilot data, analysis of existing data that cannot be done without additional funds, and similar activities. The Research Committee distributes a total of about $30,000 in BUSPH funding for small pilot studies, usually in the range of $5,000 to $6,000 each. The funds are available to any BUSPH faculty member with a full-time primary appointment at the School.Grants submitted to outside funding agencies that use data collected through BUSPH pilot funding must be submitted through BUSPH.To apply, submit a three-to-five-page proposal that explains the importance of the research effort and provides background on research goals. Include a summary of the activities to be carried out in the pilot project, information on the intended use of the results obtained in the effort (funding agency for grant application, expected level and number of years of funding), and any other information that the applicant feels is essential to be considered when the application is reviewed. A budget sheet detailing the amount requested and itemized expenses should accompany the application. Portions of faculty salaries cannot be included.The application should be submitted to Roberta White, Associate Dean for Research, at rwhite@bu.edu.

     

Finding Potential Research Collaborators:

Finding potential research collaborators is a critical and challenging step, and successful investigators carefully build teams. New initiatives and resources are available to assist in finding collaborators through BU Profiles.

BU Profiles – Research Networking Software, sponsored by the BU Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

BUMC is initiating the BU Profiles system on this campus for the schools of medicine, dentistry and public health. This web-based tool is a directory of faculty information including positions, a narrative description of your work, honors and awards, publications and a photo. The system is designed to expedite new collaborations and networking, provide access to faculty areas of expertise for colleagues inside and outside BU, and allow potential students access to information on faculty. We hope this tool will also make it easier to fill out your annual faculty development assessment form and prepare for annual meetings.

This application is used at several other universities (e.g., Harvard, UConn, Penn State, UCSF, UMass, Tufts). In the near future we will connect BU Profiles with these and other academic institutions adopting compatible systems, giving you access to a growing social network of professional peers and colleagues.

Grant Writing Resources

SPH Resources:

Pre-submission review of a grant proposal: Obtain a review of your grant proposal from your department/center chair before you submit it.

  • Why? A review by someone who is not a collaborator can assure that the proposal can be read and understood easily by a reviewer who is not an expert in your field (like most study section members) and generally improves the consistency and clarity of a proposal.
  • How? Your department chair needs you and your grants to succeed and will arrange reviews inside or outside your department. Speak with her/him early in your planning process so that she/he can secure reviewers and allocate time for this process.

Resources from the BUSM DOM Faculty Development & Diversity Committee:

Funding Sources

Resources from the BUSM DOM Faculty Development & Diversity Committee:

BU and BUMC Resources for identifying and locating funding sources:

Other External Resources:

SPH Research Links

Pre-submission review of a grant proposal: Obtain a review of your grant proposal from your department/center chair before you submit it to improve the design and/or clarity of the proposal and maximize your opportunity to secure funding.

 

BUMC Research Resources

One of the advantages of the School of Public Health is its shared campus with the School of Medicine, including the division of Graduate Medical Sciences, and the Goldman School of Dental Medicine. These schools offer many potential collaborators, and there is now an organized attempt to help faculty search for colleagues who share research interests. While still a work in progress, the searchable BU Profiles system is a good start.

Research at Boston University

BU Research magazine

BU Human Resources – Training Resources

Personal and professional training opportunities for BU faculty and staff on the Medical Campus and on the Charles River Campus.

Recommended External Websites

Click here for recommended literature.