Running Research Programs at Cancer Centers

  • December 12, 2023

In a Peer Spotlight webinar, InfoReady's Carlos Moncada talked with Judith Epstein, Director, Grant and Foundation Development at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY and Rebecca Latimer, Ph.D. Research Director at University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center. We've pulled out the highlights of their  conversation in this blog post and invite you to watch the full webinar on InfoReady's YouTube channel.

The conversation kicked off with a discussion about using InfoReady for pilot funding grants.

Judith: We use InfoReady for pilot funding, distributing $1.5 to 2 million  from our Russell Park Alliance Foundation annually. We assign reviewers to our 20-50 applications and hold meetings to review them, either in person or on teams depending on the COVID situation. We award grants through InfoReady to minimize individual emails and centralize the process. We are also starting to use InfoReady for collecting progress reports.

Rebecca: I was previously in the Vice President for Research Office where we had a person on our team who ran limited submission competitions for the whole university. I was introduced to InfoReady which was already in use in that office and really saw the value that it brought to selecting an internal candidate for the limited submission opportunity process.

Then I started in the cancer center, and we were very similar to the process that Judith defined very manual. So putting out an RFA and then collecting everything through email, keeping spreadsheets of reviews and applications and that thing, and then having everything, awards, award letters by email. However, our workload was only 2 to 5 funding opportunities per year, which was manageable but still not great to manage manually.

When we gained Comprehensive status and received significant funding from our state, our workload increased to over 25 internal opportunities. This prompted me to ask for InfoReady, knowing its value and capabilities. Last summer, we implemented InfoReady and worked closely with multiple people in the cancer center to develop streamlined processes for our competitions.

We jumped up to a similar funding amount that Judith mentioned, I think $1.5 to 2 million a year in internal funding. From there, I mainly started developing the processes for pilot funding and seed funding. We've also implemented, as Carlos mentioned, progress reports, which I'm happy to talk a little bit more about later. Then we also utilize InfoReady for travel grants or fellowships for our trainees within the cancer center. I also have developed our membership application for faculty and principal investigators to apply to the cancer center.|

Then we've also recently—and George has spearheaded this entire function, began to use InfoReady to run our community grants through our  Community Outreach Engagement Core. He's worked very closely with the director of COE to put together community grants. With this, we have applicants and reviewers that are outside the cancer center and UVA. 

Carlos: How is the communication related to the opportunities you have in InfoReady going out to all of the different stakeholders? How do you promote opportunities? 

Judith: We publish a monthly newsletter of funding opportunities, and apparently people across our cancer center know that if they get an email from me, from my email, it's going to have something good for them. In that newsletter, we point people to InfoReady, where we do the pilot projects, also the limited submissions, and our SPOR, career enhancement program, and developmental research program. 

When we send out the newsletters to our faculty, I will sometimes point out "this is what's available to you". It's also connected through our internal or Intranet site. And when new faculty come in for our one-on-one "Welcome to Roswell Park" we send them information about all the different shared resources and tell them to make sure that you continue to look at InfoReady as this is where we're going to put everything that you can apply for. 

Rebecca: Yes, we also have a funding opportunity newsletter that we send out weekly. Both George and I work closely with our research development director in the Cancer Center. She focuses on external opportunities, and we focus on the internal opportunities. We put them all into this weekly newsletter that goes out every Tuesday. We will run opportunities two weeks in a row just because we have heard from faculty that they've missed the email or they never saw the opportunity.

Then we started a opt-in listserv. Faculty members who apply for membership are asked if they would like to be added. And we also include how to opt in at the end of our funding newsletter. Our internal funding listserv announcements are sent out when we launch the opportunity in InfoReady. Many times we use the announcement template that InfoReady provides, and then we forward that to our listserv.

Rebecca: Another thing that has been helpful is that we've implemented standardized deadlines. We've picked three deadlines every four months that do not overlap with an NIH cycle. We have April, August, and December. We picked the first Wednesday of the month, and they're due at Noon. We've also tried to streamline things in that sense so that people will know that these opportunities are coming up at the same time each year. 

Judith: We have something similar. We have standard deadlines, January 15th and September 15th. I just know that when people ask, What's the deadline? its January 15th or September 15th.

Read the full transcript or watch the webinar to glean more insights about using InfoReady in a Comprehensive Cancer Center. 



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