School of Medicine Core Facilities Newsletter Volume 11

Spotlight On: Scientific Core Facilities Retreat 2014

White Paper

The dialog and discussion that occurred during the first SOM Scientific Core Facilities Retreat held in August of 2013 laid a direction toward 4 key goals, 1) define core facilities, 2) improve access and visibility, 3) establish an advisory committee to create transparency and direction, 4) harmonize the business practices, including billing and reporting. This direction was affirmed in follow up surveys completed by attendees in the days following the retreat.

Progress from 2013 Cores Retreat to November 2014

Core Steering Committee Creation and SOM Core Clusters

In January of 2014 the Institutional Scientific Core Facilities Steering Committee (CSC) was established, consisting of core facility directors and administrators from the Office of Research Administration, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC), the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), and the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC). A key first step for the CSC was to identify and organize the SOM cores. Forty one core facilities were identified and grouped into 1 of 8 core clusters according to their respective scientific disciplines. A core director was selected to represent each core cluster on the steering committee. The overall goal of the CSC in 2014 is to establish strategic plans for each of the core clusters. The CSC will also provide feedback and oversight for the sub-committees on visibility/access and billing/reporting.

Core Cluster Strategic Plans

With the aim of establishing a comprehensive strategic plan for SOM Core facilities, each core director was tasked with completing a questionnaire to identify each operation.s most important services, greatest strengths, challenges, proposed solutions to those challenges, emerging growth areas, interactions, and unique equipment. These questionnaires would then be compiled into an overall strategic plan for each core cluster. As a first step, the Animal Core Cluster report was completed and compiled in July 2014. This report was presented at the 2014 SOM cores retreat. The strategic plans for the other 7 core clusters were then developed at the 2014 retreat using the Animal Core cluster report as a model. The group has also begun work on a financial review of SOM core facilities to be included in the cluster reports. Final reports for the core clusters will be presented to SOM leadership in December 2014.

Visibility and Access Subcommittee

Comprised of administrators from SOM:ORA and partnering research centers, this subcommittee established a new website that went live February 2014 which has been the basis of much positive feedback from both core facility users as well as core facility personnel. Also beginning in February, the committee began regularly publishing a newsletter, featuring the science enabled by core facility partnerships, administrative issues, announcements, and resources. This sub-committee is also working directly with Case CCC administration to coordinate newsletters and core facility cross-talk.

Billing and Reporting Subcommittee

Comprised of core facility administrators from multiple SOM departments and centers as well as CWRU central finance and administration, this sub-committee began diligent work on a best practices manual for the administration of core facilities. This manual establishes core facility definitions, describes the process for establishing a new core facility, and laid out common issues such as invoicing, price setting, and reporting. The group is also partnering with business analysts from CWRU ITS to begin mapping the business processes for a subset of core facilities with the ultimate goal of identifying tools and processes to streamline core administration.

Summary of 2014 SOM Cores Retreat

Held Monday August 25th in the Wolstein Research Building, the retreat was attended by 119 core facility personnel and users, SOM leadership, department representatives, central leadership, and partners from outside SOM. The goals of this retreat were to 1) seek feedback on progress so far, 2) identify new goals for the coming year, and 3) highlight the ongoing technical innovation instituted and supported by the SOM cores.

Morning Sessions

Dr. Ron Conlon from the Department of Genetics and director of the Transgenic Core facility delivered a scientific presentation on the CRISPR/Cas gene targeting technologies on the horizon

Chris Flask (CSC Chair) delivered an update on CSC progress and plans for 2014 and 2015 as well as a vision for the roles and responsibilities of SOM core directors

Joan Schenkel (Chair: Billing and Reporting Subcommittee) delivered a report on the progress and plans of the sub-committee including the processes used to identify opportunities to streamline core billing and reporting and also presented a draft of the best practices manual

Anne DeChant (Chair: Visibility and Access Subcommittee) gave a demonstration of the new SOM cores website, discussed how the cores newsletters were developed, and presented plans for a DIY marketing toolbox for core facilities, participation in a central university core facilities web portal, and continued improvements to the website and newsletters

Lunchtime Poster Session

A lunchtime poster session featured 36 posters; 7 featuring core facility generated science, 20 focusing on core facility services, and the remainder being a combination of science and services.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Core Facility Managers and Directors attended the annual meeting of their respective clusters, with the goal of outlining their cluster reports.

Core Facility Administrators attended a session where Joan Schenkel shared data from the business analysis and discussed possible future actions to be taken based on that data.

Key core stakeholders and leadership of the SOM attended a session facilitated by Chris Flask on the future directions of the CSC. This meeting discussed leadership level perspectives on innovation, new opportunities, funding mechanisms, reducing redundancy, internal core facility assessments, timelines, performance metrics, and decision tools.

Afternoon Presentations

Paul MacDonald (Associate Dean for Graduate Education) gave a talk on how core facilities currently help fulfill the education mission of the School, including micro-courses, technical instruction, grant partnerships, training grants, etc. Multiple cores were cited for contributions towards graduate education including hands-on methodological and research design training.

Mary Kerr (Dean, FPB School of Nursing) gave a talk on the expansion of research programs including multiple collaborations. This presentation focused on opportunities for SOM core facilities to support emergent nursing research programs.

Closing Remarks

Highlights from the breakout sessions were shared with the assembly and closing remarks were delivered by Mark Chance, highlighting what was learned during the day, plans to collect feedback, and the mission to continue to move forward with improvements and efficiencies in the core facilities.

Feedback Survey Summary

A feedback survey was live the following day, and was completed by 40 attendees in the 2 weeks following the retreat. The thrust of the feedback was in support of the conclusions above, as well other ideas that will be shared with and considered by the CSC in the coming year.

Plan for Core Facilities Going Forward
  • Completion of the White Paper December 2014
  • Complete Core Cluster Reports December 2014
  • Develop core metrics and evaluation criteria January 2015
  • Complete financial analysis of Core Facilities February 2015
  • Complete the Core Facility Strategic Plan February 2015
  • Share Strategic Plan and Financial Analysis with SOM Leadership February 2015
  • Share Strategic Plan with Faculty and SOM Stakeholders March 2015
  • Survey SOM faculty and stakeholders to solicit feedback on the draft Core Facilities
  • Strategic Plan as well as begin planning the 2015 Core Facilities Retreat March 2015
  • Begin implementation of Strategic Plan and Investment Strategy April 2015
  • Core Facilities Retreat August 2015
  • Implementation of Strategic Plans
  • Improvements/New Opportunities

Click on the links for a copy of the white paper, more information on the retreat, or the various cores in the School of Medicine.