COBRE Project - Administrative Core

For the Phase III of this COBRE, the Administrative Core adds several new goals, including web-based management of financial resources with clear fiscal and productivity oversight such that Core directors and COBRE investigators are aware, in real time, of the status of their projects. We have also updated the mentorship program for junior investigators and developed a scientific guidance plan for established investigators. We continue to refine the scientific oversight and productivity measures of all funded investigators, and to increase grant submission activities from the development office. In addition, we continue to leverage institutional matching funds and facilities to integrate the COBRE program within LSU’s Cancer Center and the LSU Health Sciences Center. With these goals, the Administrative Core will ensure that the scientific cores and the Pilot Projects Program work in synchrony, and that the funded investigators have the necessary support and training to gain independence and granting success.

To achieve these goals we propose the following Specific Aims:

Specific Aim 1. To provide for the PI, the core directors and the Steering Committee, exact and timely financial and productivity updates of the cores, the individual investigators, and the overall program.

Specific Aim 2. To expand the mentoring program for junior investigators, with special emphasis on foreign- trained researchers, who today represent the majority of investigators at our institutions.

Specific Aim 3. To increase the grant planning, development and submission for investigators associated with the COBRE, and continue their training on fiscal planning of their research projects.

Specific Aim 4. To integrate fully the COBRE program into the LSUHSC Cancer Center and the institution overall by leveraging institutional funds and support.

We expect that an Administrative Core built around these Specific Aims will not only provide essential support for the investigators of the COBRE, but will also train the Core Directors and the future scientific leaders in administrative, financial and grant management matters.

Fiscal and Productivity Training and Oversight: Mr. Richard Granen, the Senior Business Manager of the LSU Cancer Center and financial manager for this COBRE during Phase I and II, has developed a “hands-on”, “one on one” training program for our junior investigators where they learn about fiscal planning, and management of funds and personnel. These are topics that are not routinely part of the junior faculty training process but that are vital skills for successful principal investigators. This training is individualized and based on the particular project of the PJI. In addition, Mr. Granen has established a well-organized fiscal process by which he meets with Core Directors and funded PJIs to review, in real time, the financial and usage aspects of the core facilities and of each individual project.

Mentoring: From the initiation of the COBRE, the PI developed a carefully crafted Mentoring and Faculty Development Plan that would address the fact that many of our PJIs are foreign born and trained, and are therefore at a significant disadvantage in communications, writing and “grantsmanship” skills. In addition, their understanding of the faculty career development process in United States academic institutions is limited. Dr. John Estrada developed a program that has now been adopted by several other COBRE programs throughout the IDeA states, has been presented at several of the last NISBRE meetings of the IDeA program, and has been implemented by several departments within our own institution. This program includes not only scientific mentoring, but also emphasizes written and oral communications, cultural sensitivity, development of audiovisual tools for scientific presentations, procurement of funding through federal agencies, foundations and philanthropy; as well as faculty development and additional critical tools for research faculty in today’s competitive academic environment.

Grants Development Office: The Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center Grants and Contracts Specialists developed a unique grants support program aimed at mentoring the PJIs on the entire granting process, starting with the identification of funding opportunities, the planning and development of a grant application, the submission process, the review of the critiques, and the post-award management. This grants initiative soon was in such high demand by COBRE and Cancer Center investigators, as well as researchers from other institutions, that it became the Grants Office of the Cancer Center, the only separate grants development office of any department at the LSU Health Sciences center. As shown in the figure below, the number of grants submitted and managed by this office has grown rapidly since the start of this COBRE, with the exception of 2010 and 2011 when several Cancer Center researchers departed the institution.