Skip to main content

Doing Research 2020 Archive

December 2020

NU continues Animal Care Excellence

Northwestern’s animal care and use program has once again earned “continued full accreditation” from AAALAC International, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. Northwestern has maintained full AAALAC accreditation since 1985, meeting the recommendations and guidelines of the National Research Council and demonstrating the University’s commitment to the highest standards of humane care to achieve true excellence. Prominent professionals in the laboratory animal field administer AAALAC assessments and more than 1,000 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 48 countries have earned this exceptional accreditation.

IACUC Launches Remote PAM

The IACUC Office Post Approval Monitoring (PAM) Team recently implemented protocol audits to remotely assist laboratories, ensuring that their protocols accurately reflect laboratory processes as well as Northwestern IACUC policies. This effort includes an in-depth review of the protocol(s) and a virtual meeting with a PI or designated laboratory member, wherein opportunities for greater protocol flexibility and potential protocol drift are identified. To learn how IACUC can support your compliance goals, contact the PAM Team today to schedule a protocol audit.

Winter Recess and Protocol Submissions

Winter Recess is nearly here! As a reminder, the IACUC Office will be closed from the end of business Dec. 23, 2020, through Jan. 3, 2021, reopening on Jan. 4. IACUC members will not review protocol submissions during Winter Recess, which will delay review and approval times.  Please plan your protocol submissions now as the average time to secure IACUC approval is 3-5 weeks. 

Human Research Education for New Investigators

The IRB Office has launched an education initiative for new human participant researchers upon receipt of their first Northwestern IRB approval. Each month, the unit will randomly select one new principal investigator to engage in a brief self-assessment activity. The IRB Office compliance team will use the results of the assessment to provide additional trainingresources and support for new investigators.

IRB Virtual Office Hours

Do you have IRB questions or want to discuss your upcoming study? The IRB Office is now holding Virtual Office Hours. The Social Behavioral Team is available Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30 p.m.  The Reliance Team is available alternating Tuesdays from 2:00-3:00 p.m. 

ORCID, ProposalCentral, and a New Resource for Researchers

new webinar is now available for researchers who are using ProposalCentral to apply for funding or manage reporting for existing funding awards. Learn more.  

Winter Waste Reminder

As the calendar year winds down, Research Safety reminds everyone to inspect their laboratories for hazardous waste. Please make your waste pick-up requests through LUMEN no later than Dec. 15 to ensure collection before the winter holidays. Safety can remove any old, unwanted or contaminated chemical containers, too. Simply contact Research Safety if you have a large number of containers or abandoned items.

FY20 Research Dashboard Metrics Now Available

The Research Dashboard showcases metrics from administrative units within the Office for Research, demonstrating the portfolio and scope of expert services provided to the research community. The dashboard has just been updated to reflect activities taking place in FY20.

Remember to Secure Your Discoveries

Northwestern innovators work with the Innovation and New Ventures (INVO) team to obtain patent protection and to commercialize their research. Critical to this process is gathering original signatures on important documents, without which INVO cannot secure your discoveries. Protect your intellectual property by signing and returning your documents. Contact INVO to learn more.  

November 2020

Harnessing the power of AI to expedite clinical trial negotiations and research excellence

To speed the negotiation and execution of clinical trial agreements, the Sponsored Research office has launched a pilot project that implements an artificial intelligence-based legal tool, LawGeex.

OR COVID tracker, testing updates and more

VPR Milan Mrksich recently shared a message with the research community, including details about Thanksgiving travel, Winter Recess planning and a new Office for Research tool to track positive cases of COVID-19 in Evanston experimental research facilities. The communication also highlighted ongoing COVID testing and provided a link for volunteers interested in participating in a new University testing program.

AI at Northwestern: upcoming events

Throughout Fall Quarter, Northwestern is hosting a series of “AI and Its Impact” virtual presentations on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. The series will highlight AI-related research already underway across disciplines and departments at Northwestern and inspire further research and collaboration within and across fields. All are welcome. More information is available online or via email.

FDA site inspection guidance

The IRB Office provides new guidance for FDA site inspections of clinical investigators. The information includes a comprehensive guide with recommendations and details about what researchers can expect upon receipt of an inspection notification, how to prepare for an inspection and what occurs during and after an inspection.

Keep your disclosures current

The COI Office provides the Northwestern community with a variety of guidance, including policy governing conflict of interest in research, such as this one-page quick reference on disclosures for investigators. Other research requirements are explained online at the COI website.

Resources for incoming and outgoing investigators

The IRB Office released a suite of resources and templates to support researchers in properly organizing regulatory documentation, participant records and research data. The Office also has a dedicated webpage and checklist to help transfer ongoing research from an outgoing principal investigator to a new one.

Online training: Intro to Research Administration at Northwestern

Whether you’re new or experienced in research administration, check out the recently launched online training program “Introduction to Research Administration at Northwestern.” The curriculum includes a comprehensive introduction to the Office for Research and related offices, research-related resources, and a “Basics of Sponsored Research Administration” series of web-based courses and webinars. Details, registration information and frequently asked questions are available at Research Integrity’s website

Add a research study to New Normal Match recruitment portal

As research reactivates throughout Chicago, the NUCATS Institute has partnered with eight other top Chicagoland universities and hospitals on a research participant matching platform for clinical studies. With support from NUCATS, you now can input research studies into The New Normal Match recruitment portal. The web-based platform uses lay-friendly language and allows users to express interest and match with research studies based on a study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria. Learn more about how you can benefit from this new toolkit.

September 2020

New leadership at longstanding Northwestern research centers

Effective Sept. 1, two distinguished faculty members have been appointed to direct a pair of the University’s long-running research centers, designed to spur cross-disciplinary investigation. Award-winning author Chris Abani will lead the Program of African Studies, while chemical engineer Justin Notestein will lead the Center for Catalysis and Surface Science. In total, more than 40 University Research Institutes and Centers (URICs) exist, attracting talent from throughout Northwestern.

Research funding breaks through to $886M

A global pandemic has not blunted Northwestern’s remarkable research enterprise, which has grown to $886 million for fiscal year 2020. The impressive jump was driven by multiple strengths, notably biomedical. The figure represents an 11% increase over last year’s record-setting total, making Northwestern the largest academic research site in Illinois.

New Online Training: Intro to Research Administration at Northwestern

Whether you’re new or experienced in research administration, check out the new online training program Introduction to Research Administration at Northwestern. The curriculum includes a comprehensive introduction to the Office for Research and related offices, research-related resources, and a “Basics of Sponsored Research Administration” series of Web-based courses and webinars. Details, registration information and frequently asked questions are available at Research Integrity’s website

VPR Signature Form Streamlines Workflow

 A new submission form is available for proposal-related VPR signature requests, including letters of institutional commitment and basic letters of support. The form is intended to reduce turnaround times by addressing common questions that arise during the review process.  

Single IRB Guidance and Updated Webpage

The IRB Office released new guidance and a dedicated webpage to inform the research community about the requirement to use one IRB for federally-funded human research occurring at more than one site. Northwestern researchers must complete Single IRB Pre-Consultation before either they or their collaborators submit federal funding proposals.

Performance Indicators: August 2020

Sponsored Research concluded the fiscal year by continuing to reduce turnaround time for key transactions, while completing higher-than-average number of transactions in August.

August 2020

Phased Return Guidance

As Northwestern continues to increase on-campus research activity and prepare for the fall, VPR Mrksich highlights some recent progress and outlines the safety protocols for health monitoring and reporting — including how the University manages and tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases. Also learn about “Wildcat Wellness,” the plan to help encourage campus well-being as more students return.

Keep your disclosure current

A reminder that your disclosures must be kept up to date throughout the year. New startup? New consulting or speaking engagement? Staff and faculty can log into eDisclosure to update their disclosures. Instructions | FAQs.

July Performance Update

Additional staff and improvements in business processes continue to produce good results for the Sponsored Research office. These advances have led to reduced times and higher throughput for outgoing subcontracts. 

Staff Service Milestones

Many Office for Research staff members recently celebrated major milestones in their Northwestern tenure. The University recognizes and sincerely thanks these colleagues for their skill, dedication and years of service to help facilitate our successful research enterprise during a time of extraordinary growth and challenge.

New Inventor Portal Adds Benefits

INVO recently launched a new platform to allow researchers to complete and submit disclosure forms entirely online for inventions, software, copyright and research tools. This innovation replaces the previous INVO disclosure process to improve collaboration and efficiency. Huge thanks to the labs and researchers who volunteered to test the software! Feedback or questions? Contact INVO

Conducting Human Participant Research

The IRB Office reminds the community that its COVID-19 Resources webpage provides updated resources and guidance to support human participant research and the return to campus during the pandemic. These materials include a COVID-19 Pre-Screener that can be used when conducting in-person research study visits.

Facilities Shutdown Scheduled (Updated)

Northwestern’s annual Central Utility Plant shutdown on the Evanston campus will occur from Monday, August 31, at 5 p.m. through Thursday, September 3, at 10 p.m. This activity will affect heating, hot water and air conditioning in buildings across campus. This shutdown is required to perform essential maintenance and is scheduled to minimize the impact on building occupants. Questions or concerns? Contact Operations and Maintenance Director  James McKinney,

Safety Remains in Focus

Research Safety continues to support the phased return to campus, having distributed more than 800 “welcome back” kits that include pandemic essentials such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and masks. Safety also has been instrumental in creating a return-to-campus training module, which nearly 7,000 researchers have completed. The team also is celebrating Biosafety Officer Andrea Hall’s recent election as incoming president-elect of the MABioN Executive Council, an organization that promotes the development of biological safety professionals.

IT Innovation Drives More Efficiency

A recent collaboration between IACUC and Research IT has produced a new system for tracking and sharing subcontracts. Data previously shared in a variety of ways is now better integrated, time-stamped and transparent, creating greater efficiencies for research administrators, collaborators, Sponsored Research subcontracts and the IACUC team. The new approach, advanced by RIT Developer Suresh Mallipeddi, realizes the NUIT strategy of using vendor systems for basic data entry and reporting, linking those systems with point-to-point data integration, and then integrating processes to lower turnaround times. The results also produce a valuable key performance metric.

New Website Provides Access, Resources

Thanks to a recently launched website, visitors have an easier way to learn about Corporate Engagement’s services. The site offers better access to Our PartnershipsOur ServicesOur Team, as well as to improved resources and information for campus partners. The website includes a secure user portal to allow faculty, students and staff to quickly narrow down the resources they need.

July 2020

VPR’s Updated Research Guidance

The Office for Research continues to support Northwestern’s phased return of research to campus. Investigators and their teams should visit the OR COVID-19 website — including an FAQ page and VPR Mrksich’s recent updated guidance for on-campus research during the pandemic. School- and unit-specific details are also aggregated online. Learn more about the NU work group overseeing the campus return.

Conducting Human Participant Research

The IRB Office’s COVID-19 Resources webpage provides updated resources and guidance to support your return to campus and the conducting of human participant research during the pandemic. These materials include a COVID-19 Pre-Screener that can be used when conducting in-person research study visits.

Workshop Connects Faculty and Companies

A free virtual workshop on July 28 will help NU faculty advance their research through corporate collaborations. Learn more about University-industry engagement and how to build successful relationships with companies. See event details and register now. Questions? Contact Kate Rice.

Anesthetic Gas Course Launched

A new safety course, “Working with Anesthetic Gases,” has been launched in myHR Learn. This 15-minute module addresses exposure and health risks of working with these gases, as well as strategies to reduce exposure and procedures for responding to exposure incidents and spills. Investigators are being assigned the course through LUMEN.

June Performance Update

Sponsored Research processing times are normalizing across transaction types, with the most notable impact for June seen with respect to the time to fully execute new outgoing subcontract agreements.

Training Tomorrow’s Scientific Workforce

To address the impact of COVID-19 on higher education, the NSF is expanding its Advanced Technology Education (ATE) program to increase the size of the technology-based workforce. AUI and Chicago Biomedical Consortium institutions, including NU, are helping local community colleges prepare ATE applications that emphasize careers in core technologies.

June 2020

Return-to-Campus Resources Available

As more research transitions back to campus, remain aware of guidance from the VPR. You may also access a variety of job aids and posters for on-demand printing to support your phased return to research spaces.

New Inventor Portal Adds Benefits

INVO has launched a new platform to allow researchers to complete and submit disclosure forms entirely online for inventions, software, copyright, and research tools. The innovation improves collaboration and enhances efficiency, and soon will replace the previous INVO forms for disclosure after a brief transition period. Feedback or questions? Contact INVO.

Reducing Regulatory Burden

The IACUC Office is pleased to announce the rollout of several changes to the eIACUC protocol form, effective June 1. The changes include options for housing sub types applicable to your research needs, as well as simplification of the federal assurance section through the use of an attestation check box.  View the summary of key changes.

Despite COVID, NU Funding Remains Strong

Northwestern’s overall sponsored research funding continues to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic and related move to remote campus operations. Year-over-year awards and award funding are up.

Cores Support Phase Return to Campus

Core facilities staff are helping ensure that Northwestern’s scientific infrastructure is ready as researchers repopulate campus. A task force of core administrators and directors — including Dina Arvanitis, Reiner Bleher, Kat Gruner, Chad Haney, and Ben Owen — have supported the return to allow cores reopen in alignment with University guidance while maintaining high levels of service. A key aspect of this effort involves communicating each core’s status to users.

Safety Team Key Ally in Campus Return

To support NU scientists during the phased return to campus, Research Safety so far has prepared more than 420 welcome back kits containing 1,300 bottle of EPA-registered disinfectant, 850 containers of hand sanitizer, and numerous job aids and guidance posters. They also have provided more than 110,000 disposable masks. Safety will continue to supply sanitizer and disinfectant until its supplies are exhausted, so contact them. Additional masks are available at no cost via the scientific stockrooms.

Conducting Human Participant Research

The IRB Office’s COVID-19 Resources webpage provides resources and guidance to support your return to campus and the conducting of human participant research during the pandemic. These materials include a COVID-19 Pre-Screener that can be used when conducting in-person research study visits.

Reflections on the Killing of George Floyd

VPR Mrksich says that recent injustices highlight the need for committed action that strengthens our institutions — including the Office for Research.

Find COVID-19 Funding and Resources

Research Development has successfully supported more than 20 faculty across multiple schools and URICs by matching PI’s COVID-19-related projects with funding opportunities, identifying collaborators, and more. Reach out to the staff  for assistance.

Combating ‘Zoom Fatigue’

Throughout the pandemic, RIT’s agility, customer focus, and strong project management skills have helped keep the Office for Research connected — on and off campus. Telepresence has been center stage, but so has “Zoom Fatigue.” Find help on how to stay secure while working remotely.

May 2020

Find Support for COVID-19 Research

In recent weeks, the IRB Office has received and reviewed more than 100 projects related to COVID-19 research — and continues to prioritize such work at this time. Investigators pursuing these kinds of studies can find guidance and resources on the IRB Office website. You may also read the current policy on research study visits.

Changes Coming for NIH, NSF Proposal Submissions

The University’s two largest federal sponsors are implementing changes in their proposal submission procedures in the next month. NIH is updating its application forms effective for deadlines May 25 and after. NSF’s latest proposal submission policies, including new requirements for biosketches and support forms, go into effect on June 1.

Essential Research Extended

ICYMI: The Office for Research reiterated current policy for investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic and began providing guidance for an anticipated phased return to more on-campus activities.

COVID-19 Funding and Resources

Research Development has curated a detailed list of more than 50 federal, foundation, and corporate funding opportunities as well as grant-related resources on its COVID-19 web page. In addition, ORD staff  are able to assist faculty by identifying funding mechanisms that align with their research projects, finding collaborators, facilitating connections with program officers, and advising on strategic approaches to developing a proposal.

Research Metrics Dashboard Updated

This enhanced digital dashboard showcases year-over-year metrics from across the Office for Research, demonstrating the scope and impact of this portfolio of expert research services. The dashboard has recently been enhanced to include FY19 data as well as some new interactive features.

Tools to Connect Remotely

Remember that Northwestern provides a variety of digital tools and resources to help you stay connected during the current stay-at-home order.   

March 2020 – Special COVID-19

NU Creates COVID Clearinghouse

Northwestern investigators and clinicians have stepped up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — including by creating a research clearinghouse aimed at catalyzing team science. Across the University, many specialists have pooled their talents. These aggregated resources will help those looking for COVID-19 research funding, data, publications, and collaborators.

Urgent Need for Hospital Supplies

Researchers can contribute crucial PPE, including N95 masks, to help Northwestern healthcare workers in the frontlines battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Donating vital supplies is easy and will make an immediate impact for our colleagues.

COVID-19 Guidance for Researchers

The Office for Research has created a website that provides Northwestern investigators with resources and information about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on research activity. Included are details pertaining to sponsored research funding, IRB guidance, and IACUC protocols during the current viral outbreak. Updated guidance, as it becomes available, is posted to the site. University-wide resources and news about the outbreak continues to appear on Northwestern’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 page.

NU Team Discovers COVID-19 Drug Target

Feinberg School scientists led by microbiologist Karla Satchell have identified a potential new drug target in SARS-CoV-2. The work maps two key proteins that help the virus evade detection in cells and thereby multiply faster.

Economists Analyze Cost and Savings of COVID Containment

Economists led by Northwestern’s Martin Eichenbaum published a working paper that could save lives. The scholars argue that keeping social-distancing measures in place before a peak in the infection rate could limit infections and prevent as many as 600,000 additional deaths in the United States.

March 2020

New Funding Search Engine Arrives

Effective March 1, Northwestern adopted a new funding opportunities search engine called Funding Institutional. This software replaces COS Pivot, the University’s longtime subscription service. Funding Institutional is a quality product from Elsevier, a well-known brand that powers Northwestern Scholars, and it offers exceptional features at a lower cost. To start using this tool, navigate to, click “Sign In” at the top right, select “sign in via your institution,” and follow the prompts to enter your NetID and password. Questions? Contact ORD’s Rebecca McNaughton.

Corporate Research Partnerships

Corporate Engagement invites faculty to attend a March 12 workshop on university-industry relationships at Northwestern and to learn how to partner with companies on research collaborations. This workshop will explain why companies are interested in working with universities and who supports these efforts on campus. Faculty also will learn how to build successful relationships with companies. Contact the Corporate Engagement team.

Foreign Influence Remains a Focus

The federal government continues to emphasize the importance of academic investigators to disclose their foreign research relationships. Remain aware of your responsibilities by reviewing Northwestern’s current guidance on improper foreign influence. Questions? Contact Conflict of Interest or Export Controls Compliance staff for help.

Performance Indicators: February Update

The Sponsored Research team’s overall median time to process agreements held steady in February, with further improvements expected in coming months due to the addition of new staff and the implementation of process enhancements.

Interested in Being a Faculty Expert?

Northwestern’s Global Marketing and Communications team is considering applications from faculty members looking to share their research insights with the media. Learn more about the Faculty Experts initiative and application process.

Take Advantage of Research Tools

The Office for Research maintains a robust portfolio of valuable information for investigators. Find links to key policies as well as funding opportunities, training, onboarding, electronic research systems, core facilities, metrics, and more on the Research Tools page.

February 2020

Annual Disclosure Process Closes February 28!

Please submit your annual disclosure by end of business on Friday, February 28, to comply with university policy and avoid delays with proposal submissions and award set up. Disclose: eDisclosure. More info: NUCOI’s website Contact with questions.

LUMEN Nearly Complete

 Thank you for helping Research Safety move from the NSIS registration system to a hosted solution called LUMEN (powered by BioRAFT). On March 31 all access to the NSIS system will end. NSIS data will be retained, but all records, documents, approvals, etc. will be processed using LUMEN.

Performance Indicators: January Update

The Sponsored Research team’s median time to process agreements held steady in January, with additional improvements in subcontracts.

DHHS Common Rule Now in Effect

The updated Common Rule, effective January 20, requires that Federally Funded Cooperative Research (more than one site) identify one IRB to serve as the IRB of record for all sites. The pre-consultation process established for the NIH Single IRB Policy will be used for all federally funded cooperative research.

CFaD Program Helps Innovation

Core facilities enable amazing scientific advances. But because of the way these shared resources are funded it can be challenging to develop new service lines — even when only relatively modest investments are needed to do so. The Core Facilities Development Program has helped solve this problem for CAM and MHPL — and how your Core can benefit from CFaD.

Foreign Influence a National Priority

Recent high-profile events — including the arrest of a prominent faculty member at a peer institution — underscore the need for investigators to disclose foreign relationships. Be aware of your responsibilities by reviewing Northwestern’s current guidance on improper foreign influence. Questions? Contact Conflict of Interest or Export Controls staff for help.

January 2020

Animal Care Excellence

CCM’s Preclinical Rodent Services (PCS) team offers its expertise to support Northwestern’s animal biomedical researchers. With specialized training to meet the growing demands of the University’s scientists, the PCS team through its technical support of animal research studies plays a valuable role in advancing the research and medical mission of Northwestern. Learn more here.


Performance Indicators: December Update

In December, the Sponsored Research team’s median time to process agreements ticked up slightly for most transaction types, reflecting a larger number of older transactions completed with many sponsors motivated to wrap up work before the year’s end.