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Research Cores Q&A

The GBA Emerging Issues Committee and GRAND co-sponsored a teleconference with faculty and staff at the University of Michigan Medical School, Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., M.S., Sr. Associate Dean for Research, Teri Grieb, Ph.D., Director for Administration for Research, Matthew Comstock, Executive Director for Administration and Finance, and Cassandra Wong, Director of the Biomedical Research Core Facilities on The Administration of Research Cores. The panelists provided the following answers to questions posed during the webinar. 

Can you please provide an estimate of what your capital budget is?  

Currently $2M annually with the amount evaluated yearly as part of the budget process.

How often are the cores reviewed?  

Once a year; more often if there are issues that need monitoring.

Do you provide a standard pricing template to be used in the business plan?

The business plan financial template is designed to provide a multi-year view of the amount of annual cost recovery compared to total operating expenses for the core on an overall basis and to indicate trends, if any.

Are cores allowed to run in the black, i.e. if they are successful, can they develop a rainy day fund? Or must they plow that back into the core by reducing the charge back rates?

How do you handle investigator's recharge who put equipment into the core?

Regarding tiered rates, do you let individual cores set their own tier levels, or are the % markups determined on an institutional level?

Are the 100% dedicated director salaries built into the cost recovery budgets?

In terms of recharges, do the rates differ for funded or non-research funded investigators?

Is the charge different or same when you outsource samples?

Recharge rates for core facilities at U-M are determined in accordance with the Office of Financial Analysis and the specific interpretation U-M makes to A-21 guidelines and, more recently, the Uniform Guidance. These interpretations are made at the institutional level and are observed by Medical School core facilities.  U-M has a relatively strict +/- 5% tolerance of fund balances within the recharge unit.  U-M allows deficits and surpluses over 5% of annual revenue to be resolved on a multi-year basis.

Recharge rates are the same for all internal investigators, including those who have contributed instrumentation to the core facility, since the rates are based on operational costs only (equipment costs are not included in rates). In some cases, dedicated director salaries are built into the cost recovery rate(s), at varying percentages, based on the capacity of the service rate to accommodate the cost and remain competitive (i.e., don’t price the service out of business). 

Recharge rates for outsourced services may be pass-through (being charged at the cost of the outsourced service) if the service is self-contained and does not require additional work or consideration.  Some recharge rates for outsourced services may contain costs for work performed on-site (e.g. data interpretation) in addition to the original cost of the outsourced service.

External recharge rates are required, at a minimum, to recoup the sponsored indirect cost for other sponsored activity (currently 29%) in addition to the internal recharge rate charged by the core.  This applies to all core facilities.  Any surcharge above the indirect cost rate varies by core and considers the market rate, if applicable.  The tiered rate levels for external academic/non-profit and for-profit clients varies by core, can be strategic, and needs to be consistently applied within each core facility.

Are core allowed or encouraged to translate R&D (assay development, projects) into clinical assays that generate clinical revenue?   If so, how are revenues redistributed?

The focus of the Biomedical Research Core Facilities is on supporting basic and translational research.  There isn’t a focus on development of assays for clinical purposes.  A few department-based cores within the Medical School clinical departments have developed unique assays for clinical purposes.  As such, those cores adhere to all appropriate regulations and secure necessary certifications for use of assay results for clinical care delivery.

How do you market your Cores and do you track publications from Cores as part of your ROI (Return On Investment)?

The central Biomedical Research Core Facilities (BRCF) have a full-time Marketing and Communications Specialist dedicated to communications regarding the twelve medical school core facilities.  The timely communications and outreach have proved vital to the educational mission of the BRCF, as well as measurably increasing awareness and usage of both cores and new technologies within the cores.  Marketing and communications activities range from consistent and recognizable branding, monthly newsletters (both internal and external to the cores), seminars and symposia featuring new technologies and/or methods, core facility showcases, and roadshows.

Publications that can be tracked to BRCF cores are sometimes used as a measure of scientific impact (depending on the core).  Core Directors can be listed as authors on manuscripts when they contribute substantively to the scholarly activity, including aiding with experimental design, methods development, and/or data analyses and interpretation.  More commonly, the core is simply providing a service for a fee and, therefore, there is no authorship.  In the latter case, significant challenges remain surrounding the consistent identification of publications with research that benefitted from core facility work and expertise.

 

 

 

 

Meetings

Upcoming Meetings


GBA/GIP Joint Spring Meeting
April 17-20, 2018
Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront
Portland, Ore.

Principal Business Officers’ Meeting
September 6-7, 2018
New York Marriott East Side
New York, N.Y.

Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting
November 2-6, 2018
Austin, Texas

Recent Meetings


Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting
November 3-7, 2017
Boston, Mass.

Principal Business Officers’ Meeting
September 14-15, 2017
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Scottsdale, Ariz.
Presentations Available to Attendees

GBA/GIP/GIR Joint Spring Meeting
May 9-12, 2017
Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Atlanta, Ga.
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Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting
November 11-15, 2016, Seattle, Wash.

Principal Business Officers’ Meeting
September 22-24, 2016
Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Waterfront, Vancouver, B.C.
Presentations Available to Attendees

GBA/GIP Joint Spring Meeting
April 12-15, 2016
Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
Presentations Available to Attendees