We’ve completed our NSF Grant! UCSF Profiles and its use by external partners

UCSF Profiles is an example of a Research networking system (RNS). These systems provide automated aggregation and mining of information to create profiles and networks of the people that make up an academic institution. RNS’s have in effect, become a new kind of ‘front door’ for the university, providing access to the university’s intellectual capital in a manner previously unattainable — i.e. one focused on expertise rather than schools or departments, thus intermingling experts regardless of where they’re officially housed. Against this backdrop, we wanted to understand how such a tool might enhance access to academic expertise by external partners, specifically industry, and improve UCSF’s response to industry interest. Continue reading

Collaboration Success Wizard — want to test to see if your geographically distributed team is poised for success?

Collaboration Success Wizard.

Check this out … looks really interesting!

Here’s the description from the site:

Once a project is approved to participate [to use the Wizard], we send invitation e-mails to all the project members. The Wizard is an online survey that takes about 30 minutes. Each individual involved in the project should take the survey independently. The more project members who take the survey, the better the data!

And yes – it’s free!

At the end of the survey each participant can see a personalized individual report that contains feedback based on their answers and our research. This report is available immediately, and summarizes both the strong points and the issues at risk for the target collaboration.

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? – NYTimes.com

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? – NYTimes.com.

This is sort of off-topic, but I thought worth sharing.

A while ago, someone forwarded this article to me and I just re-read it. Interesting stuff – and some food for thought for how we work and deal with things during the day.

On the work front — the research suggests scheduling meetings in the morning versus late afternoon and not to be low on blood sugar may be the best plan for a good productive meeting.  I guess bringing those cookies to meetings could have a multi-pronged effect.  People love cookies and will be more apt to come to your meeting in the first place if there is food, and the glucose hit may help folks make better decisions.

On a  more personal note, I now know that the “low blood sugar excuse” that I give my kids and husband when I’m cranky has some science behind it.  At the end of a long day, I know to make sure I’m fueled up before the barrage of small decisions thrown at me by the kids when they get home.

No matter how big or small the decisions are during the day, if they all deplete one’s will power, I’ll be thinking a bit more about the advice at the end of this article:  “… people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions. “

LabLife.org – A Model for a Future Research Portal at CTSI, and perhaps even UCSF?

This site is interesting because it helps researchers perform a variety of tasks and supports their online community. At the same time, it provides clear paths to access more information without overwhelming the user. And btw, the goal of the site is easily comprehensible.

LabLife is free for academic labs. We recently learned that UCSF postdocs are using it frequently. And they’re not the only ones, according to LabLife over 1800 labs from 1200 institutions world-wide are using the site.

Here are a few examples how the site supports several aspects of a researcher’s lab life:

  • searching for products,
  • coordinating purchases (preventing ordering mistakes),
  • managing (tracking) reagents, documents, and data,
  • searching for jobs and publications, and
  • sharing information with colleagues and the community.

What do you think?

IRB Approvals…A Need for Speed?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) plays a crucial role in the process of approving and overseeing clinical trials.  Unfortunately, the time required for protocol review is often an area of great frustration for all parties involved.  In 2009, the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP) surveyed 196 of their client organizations, and found that the average time from protocol submission to approval by the convened IRB was almost 49 days.

While there are many factors that contribute to these long review times, improvements can be made.  Recently, the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine IRB has reported dramatic results:

Last March it took 35 days for a full Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for a clinical trial from the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, which reviews more than 1,000 applications annually. This March, IRB approval time dropped to 21 days, and just 13 days in February.

And those faster approvals were completed with a staff of just three full-time analysts and four coordinators, compared to eight full-time analysts at this time last year.

Reducing the time for investigators to gain IRB approvals required the School of Medicine (SOM) to streamline its business processes, retrain its staff and alter its hiring practices, to be able to do more with less. A key part of this paradigm shift was the development of new procedures and an investigator’s toolkit complete with essential documents, including up to 40 checklists and 30 worksheets that make the submission process more efficient.

Part of Maryland’s new procedures came from working with the Huron Consulting Group, who provide a free set of tools to help IRBs streamline their procedures.  Huron will also be offering a free webinar on May 25th to discuss a model for improving IRB operations.