OVERVIEW OF HEALTH SCIENCES RESEARCH STRATEGY

 

GOALS

The central goal of our research efforts is to improve human health by advancing knowledge, and transforming clinical practice. The research strategy is part of the larger health sciences strategy. Our research efforts are amplified by our strong collaborative culture and through synergy with our other core missions - clinical care, education, and community human health.

As a part of our overall research strategy, we have identified 10 specific goals with corresponding implementation tactics. You can review an overview of the research strategy (including goals and tactics) here or learn detailed information in the action plans. In Fall 2021, we will be updating the research strategy and tactics with performance metrics.

 

OUTCOMES WE SEEK TO ACCOMPLISH

  • Our transformative science improves human health and distinguishes the university through research funding, national recognition, and national rankings

  • Well-planned, state-of-the-art research spaces and instrumentation place our researchers on the cutting-edge of discovery and innovation

  • Diverse faculty, graduate trainees, and student body advance their careers through exceptional training, mentorship, and opportunities for career advancement

  • A culture of collaboration knits our health sciences research community together and fosters innovative team science that accelerates breakthrough discoveries

  • Financial structures and conscientious stewardship of research funds incentivize activities that align with our research mission, values, and goals

This five-year plan was developed over the course of 18 months, by the Health Sciences Research Council, in coordination with 12 subcommittees comprised of more than 80 members of the Health Sciences research community, including faculty, graduate trainees, and students.

 

2021 DIRECTED STEPS

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As with all research, we view this strategy as living, iterative and occurring in phases. Our first step was to establish priorities or directed steps for 2021. We identified three overarching goals with corresponding implementation tactics that we felt could be accomplished within a year. We strive to set a strong and steady course for the research mission, while remaining dynamic enough to continually evaluate and, as appropriate, rebalance our research efforts to optimize institutional growth and leverage emerging areas of importance.

 


RESEARCH STRATEGY ACTION PLANS

In Fall 2021, we will be updating our research strategy along with including performance metrics.  
 


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion - November 2020

We are deeply committed to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as core values. It is established that more diverse groups make better decisions, lack of identifiable role models discourages participation, and failure to provide an inclusive environment diminishes potential well-being. 

Prioritized goals for this section include: 

  • Foster a culture in which equity, diversity and inclusion are valued and continually advanced
  • Promote scholarship on issues of equity, diversity and inclusivity
  • Optimize recruitment and enhance retention and success of trainees, staff and faculty

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
View the 2021 Action Plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.


 issue-8-thumbnail.pngResearch Education and Training - December 2020

 U of U Health will provide outstanding research training that is multidisciplinary and innovative and that prepares our diverse cadre of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees to become successful scientists in a rapidly evolving and complex research enterprise. Robust curricula cover the basic, disease-related, clinical and/or translational disciplines and provide the foundation for research experiences. Along with novel programmatic activities, strong mentoring and oversight, our programs facilitate development toward independent research careers by ensuring that trainees acquire the operational and professional skills to advance knowledge and improve health for all the citizens we serve.

Prioritized goals for this section include:

  • Maximize external training support for PhD trainees, MD-PhD trainees, and postdocs
  • Develop systems to support appropriate growth and excellence of graduate programs
  • Train the next generation of clinician scientists
  • Increase diversity of graduate students and success of diverse students
  • Strengthen postdoctoral support and mentoring

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Research Education and Training.
View the 2021 Action Plan for Research Education and Training. 


 Career Development - December 2020

Recognized as an institution that values faculty as its greatest asset, U of U Health will provide a learning environment in which its research faculty can be nurtured to continually grow by gaining new technical, operational and professional skills that enhance career advancement, leadership roles and improve retention. Faculty development programs are responsive to the needs of faculty at early, mid, senior and leadership stages of development and ensures that mentoring through transition phases within the spectrum of grant opportunities is effective in helping each faculty reach his/her unique potential.

Prioritized goals for this section include: 

  • Improve quantity, quality and consistency of mentorship for early, mid-career and senior faculty, considering differing needs for career and scientific mentorship, and specific mentoring strategies for faculty from underrepresented groups
  • Proactively retain highly successful research faculty

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Career Development.
View the 2021 Action Plan for Career Development. 


 issue-8-thumbnail.pngResearch Space and Infrastructure - January 2021

High quality space increases research output by providing necessary capacity, fostering creativity, and promoting interactions between researchers with complementary expertise. At present, space limitations represent the single greatest impediment for increasing research productivity at U of U Health. Challenges include a simple lack of available research space, proper programmatic co-localization, and balancing the distribution of on and off campus research sites. Simply put, we have an urgent need for at least one new research building if we are to meet our goals for HSC extramural growth.

Prioritized goals for Research Space include: 

  • Build a major new wet-lab research building.
  • Revision of wet-lab metrics and establishment and implementation of dry-lab metrics.
  • Establish a research space gap plan for the critical period between when health sciences research space is exhausted to when a new research building opens.
  • Establish a health sciences vivaria master plan, and a plan for an eventual CMC replacement.

Prioritized goals for Research Infrastructure include:

  • Create and implement strategies for maintaining cutting-edge instrumentation and services for each of the existing core facilities. Create new cores as technological advances and faculty needs dictate.
  • Improve infrastructure critical to the performance of safe, capable and efficient conduct of human subject research spanning the translational spectrum from disease natural history to late Phase clinical trials.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Research Space and Infrastructure - January 2021 starting at 28:30.
View the 2021 Action Plan for Research Space. 


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Research Across the Translational Spectrum - May 2021

Our robust research enterprise portfolio requires monitoring, balancing, and strategic planning to ensure that we are pursuing the optimal range of activities. It is therefore critical that we continually evaluate and, as appropriate, rebalance our research efforts to optimize the ratios of early/mid/senior investigators, wet/dry research, basic/clinical, T0-T5, federal/other funding, career/independent/programmatic funding, etc. Effective retention, recruitment, and succession strategies are also crucial components of this effort because people are our greatest asset.

Prioritized goals for Research Across the Translational Spectrum include: 

  • Proactively retain highly successful research faculty.
  • Ensure succession planning for research programs, centers of excellence, training grant directors, and research leadership positions.
  • Promote scientific excellence and innovation as core values.
  • Create an integrated infrastructure for translational/clinical research.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Research Across the Translational Spectrum - May 2021 starting at 34:45
View the 2021 Action Plan for Research Across the Translational Spectrum 


 national-distinction_page_01.jpgNational Distinction - June 2021

National distinction of University of Utah Health’s research enterprise is critically important for faculty and trainee recruitment and engagement, competitiveness for federal and foundation funding, and philanthropic fundraising. As a leading academic medical center, we have the opportunity and obligation to produce transformative advances that change the way medicine is practiced. These impactful innovations occur in a range of different areas, from fundamental discoveries to translational advances to public health improvements. University of Utah Health Sciences has a rich recent history of making such advances, including in gene discovery, genetic engineering, diagnostics and testing, and infectious disease. These advances bring national recognition to individual investigators, departments, and the institution. University of Utah Health and its Schoolof Medicine and Dentistry and Colleges of Pharmacy, Health, and Nursing have a strong national presence, and we aim to continue this strong upward trajectory.

Prioritized goals for National Distinction include: 

  • Optimize faculty recruitment.
  • Optimize faculty mentoring.
  • Increase individual faculty national recognition and celebrate scientific achievements.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on National Distinction - June 2021 starting at 34:57
View the 2021 Action Plan for National Distinction.


 multi-disciplinary-research-action-plan.jpgPartnerships and Multi-disciplinary Research - June 2021

We are fortunate that our U of U Health Sciences Center has an affiliated University Hospital, and is embedded within a major public research university that includes an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As research becomes ever more interdisciplinary, we must continue to create strong partnerships across our different University programs, departments and colleges, and with other local and national health systems. Such partnerships create unique opportunities for individual investigators to have maximum impact, and also increase our ability to compete for major program-level grants that can support transformative research on major challenges that face our world. These are goals of the “One U” initiative, and we embrace them.

Prioritized goals for Partnerships and Multi-disciplinary Research include: 

  • Integrate research with U of U Health clinical practice by expanding intra-campus partnerships and collaborations.
  • Work with other health systems locally and nationally to identify the best possible research collaboration opportunities and proceed where mutual agreement can be reached.
  • Strengthen relationships with key stakeholders and collaborators to optimize the conduct and impact of late translational research.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Partnerships and Multi-disciplinary Research - June 2021 starting at 34:57
View the 2021 Action Plan for Partnerships and Multi-disciplinary Research. 


 innovation-and-commercialization-action-plan.jpgInnovation and Commercialization - June 2021

IP generation and technology commercialization are important innovation milestones, embody impactful translational research, and lead to the production of new therapeutics, diagnostics, devices, and software that improves human health and spurs economic growth in Utah. It is therefore critical that we continue to support strong research discovery, IP protection, licensing, entrepreneurship, and commercialization efforts so academic discoveries are brought to market, startup companies create new jobs and economic growth for the state and nation, and Utah is established as a leader in life sciences.

Prioritized goals for Innovation and Commercialization include: 

  • Enhance our culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization, and the policies that guide these activities. 
  • Continue our strong efforts for commercialization.
  • Promote programs that train future entrepreneurs.
  • Engage and partner with stakeholders including campus groups, PIVOT, policy makers, industry leaders, and donors to elevate the value of HS innovations and discoveries. 

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Innovation and Commercialization - June 2021 starting at 34:57
View the 2021 Action Plan for Innovation and Commercialization. 


 communication-action-plan.jpgPublic Outreach and Communication - June 2021

Robust research communication provides an opportunity to create common understanding of current research, its relevance within the University, to Utah and its strong biomedical and technology sectors, and society in general. Research communication in combination with education and clinical service missions support the University overall and its unique position in Utah and the Intermountain West. Expanded efforts must be made toward pockets of excellence (e.g., the Genetic Science Learning Center), base research communications, and leveraging the success of public health outreach (e.g., the Wellness Bus) to raise awareness for allied research efforts.

Prioritized goals for Public Outreach and Communication include: 

  • Develop existing communication platforms and mediums for areas of opportunity and establish new platforms as appropriate.
  • Build connectivity to our primary audiences. 
  • Develop impactful content that can be presented on various platforms and shared with our various networks/audiences.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Public Outreach and Communication - June 2021 starting at 34:57
View the 2021 Action Plan for Public Outreach and Communication. 


 financial-strength-and-sustainability-action-plan.jpgEnsuring Financial Strength and Sustainability - June 2021

Sustainability and competitive advantage depend upon maximizing the funds available for research, both externally through grants, philanthropy, State, VA, etc., and internally through maintenance of financial models that support investments in research and promote research excellence. As discussed more fully in the report on National Distinction, retaining high-performing faculty and sustaining the rate of faculty recruitment of recent years will be necessary to reach our potential for driving impactful scientific advances and external funding. Additional faculty recruitment is also needed to realize our potential for collaborative research by building synergy with existing strengths, such as through institutional initiatives. Sustainability will also require strong partnership with the hospitals, including appropriate funds flow and recognition that research distinction enhances clinical competitive advantage; issues that are discussed in the report on multidisciplinary research and partnership. Some   most important objectives identified in this section relate to faculty, department, and initiative support and expectations – which have been merged with related objectives from other sections and presented as a consolidated section.

Prioritized goals for Ensuring Financial Strength and Sustainability include: 

  • Optimize support for departments, programs, and initiatives.
  • Understand funding success trends and maximize submission of competitive external grant proposals.
  • Maximize research support from philanthropy and the State (and Federal) government.
  • Optimize the size and impact of research investment.

View the Health Sciences Research Forum presentation on Financial Strength and Sustainability - June 2021 starting at 34:57
View the 2021 Action Plan for Financial Strength and Sustainability. 


 

HEALTH SCIENCES STRATEGY

The Research Strategy has been developed in coordination with the Health Sciences Strategy Planning team. For more information on the broader strategy, please visit the Strategy Refresh 2020-2025 website. 

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Please contact Jeremy Franklin with your feedback and ideas. 

Message from the Associate Vice President for Research

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Will Dere
Associate Vice President for Research

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Contact Us

Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Research Unit

University of Utah Skaggs Hall
30 S 2000 E Suite 250
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: 801-585-0851