A One-Stop Shop for Research Compliance
New Web site guides BU researchers through the maze of regulation
Soon after becoming Boston University’s associate vice president for research compliance in late 2006, Ara Tahmassian started hearing complaints from faculty.
“They were frustrated by the myriad regulatory requirements and the maze that you have to go through,” says Tahmassian of the layers of federal, state, local, and internal regulations and reviews with which all research must comply. Such frustration was understandable. More than 80 different agencies hold sway over how research is done at colleges and universities, he says, not to mention University committees on topics from biosafety to conflicts of interest to radiation protection. Worse, the path to full compliance varies between BU’s Charles River and Medical Campuses and often continues throughout the life of the research.
“It is so complex and complicated,” says Tahmassian, “that unless you have a central portal, one place you can go for all this information, you can spend days and days trying to track it all down.”
So Tahmassian built such a portal, with help from Aaron Caine, BU’s director of academic information technology, Tom Pecoraro, an Office of Research Compliance project manager, and the Office of Information Technology. The new Web site, which launched last week, is a one-stop shop for obtaining approvals, training, and appropriate oversight of research for both the Charles River and Medical Campuses.
“We wanted to make it easy for faculty to find information on their legal, contractual, and grant obligations, as well as the University’s standards of integrity, quality, and ethics,” says Tahmassian. The site functions as a checklist for researchers. Working with human tissue or cells? Click through to pages listing the contacts, approvals, and training needed for biosafety and human subject research. Does your research involve lasers? Follow the radiation tab. Testing out a new technology? Use the link to the Office of Technology Transfer.
Tahmassian says the new site, with its description of which research approval stipulations are common to the Charles River and Medical Campuses and which are distinct, will also “help facilitate intercampus and multidisciplinary research without worrying about compliance.”
Pecoraro says the site will give potential researchers and external sources a transparent and easy-to-understand look at how BU oversees research, which will become increasingly important when research begins at the controversial National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) currently being built on BU’s Medical Campus and scheduled to be completed this year.
“We’re going to be under intense scrutiny,” says Pecoraro. “So it’s important that we, as a university, have our stuff in line.”
Tahmassian says the site will continue to grow and will soon expand into an Integrated Research Information System, complete with electronic versions of nearly every form a researcher would need, and because researchers often must repeatedly submit the same information to multiple places, central repositories for paperwork submissions.
“The goal is to actually bring the entire research application process under one roof,” he says.
Chris Berdik can be reached at email@example.com Comments