The mission of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (VPRI) at the University of Oregon is to advance transformative excellence in research, innovation and graduate education. In support of this mission, the VPRI recognizes that faculty research success is often dependent on access to specialized facilities that support particular types of research capacity, such as specialized equipment, material, data acquisition, data analysis, consultation or expertise, and/or other service. These resources also support graduate students who take advantage of access to these tools and capacities by receiving specific training in their use and application, in conducting projects both independently and with their faculty mentors, and in pursuing later job opportunities. Many business sectors in Oregon and across the country also look to the University of Oregon to provide access to cutting edge equipment and expertise to expand capacity, build synergies and partnerships with faculty, and increase their bottom line by reducing investment burden.
The rapid increase in sophistication and operational costs of modern equipment and expertise often prevent these from being devoted to a single user or project. The UO research community is therefore best served through aggregation of these into common research cores. There are several reasons. The cost of specialized equipment or large scale services often outstrips a single faculty start-up package, research grant or industry contract. In addition, accessing and applying the equipment to specific research problems requires specialized expertise that many individual users do not possess. Lastly, technology is advancing with such rapidity that systematic, coordinated efforts need to be made for planned reinvestment to assure continued university access to the most modern equipment and expertise that are critical to researchers’ future success.
As a result, top ranked research universities such as the University of Oregon have developed specialized research core facilities that a) enable shared access to high tech tools across faculty, departments and disciplines; b) provide specialized technical personnel to assist users in the application of the equipment or expertise to the problem at hand, and c) are organized to operate in a sustainable manner with adequate cost recovery and systematic equipment/expertise renewal. The Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR) pioneered this approach as the first research core facility of its kind at the University of Oregon, providing cutting edge physical science tools and expertise to internal faculty/staff/student and external entity users to enable outstanding research and innovation. The Research Core Facility organizational structure not only supports individual research laboratories, it provides a demonstrated competitive advantage for successfully obtaining large scale instrumentation and center grants.
In recognition of the widespread user need for access to research core facilities in many disciplines that span the campus, VPRI, in partnership with units, worked to enhance the support for, and systematic organization of, these specialized research core facilities. CAMCOR and the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging were used as organizational models, drawing on business models put forth by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Research Resources conferences and best practice materials, and utilizing the federal guidance provided in Circular A-21 and other relevant guidance. A process to solicit input from campus stakeholders as well as a research advisory board were created and utilized for a thorough review process. Initial Guidance was posted in FY15.
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance that sets out the common structure for the VPRI Research Core Facilities (RCF) and states the shared expectations of the various stakeholders involved in their use, operation, and management, to advance excellence in research, innovation and graduate education.