University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Author Archives: Jessica McBride

Latest UConn Research Innovation Newsletter

Check out the latest in UConn Research Innovation News in the August edition of our UConn Research Newsletter.

Animal Care Services Personnel Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to update you on changes occurring in Animal Care Services.

Dr. Cecile Baccanale, Director of Animal Care Services and Attending Veterinarian for Storrs and the regional campuses, has accepted a new position in North Carolina. During her 10 years at UConn, Cecile has provided exemplary leadership and expert animal care. While we will miss Cecile’s contribution to the University’s research mission, we wish her all the best in her new role.

With Cecile’s departure, Dr. Ramaswamy Chidambaram, DVM, PhD, the Attending Veterinarian at UConn Health, has assumed the additional role of Interim Attending Veterinarian for UConn Storrs and regional campuses, effective July 4, 2017. In this role, Dr. Chidambaram has direct responsibility for the oversight of veterinary care for UConn’s animals. To ensure adequate coverage for veterinary needs, the University is also contracting with clinical veterinarians on an interim basis. Rimantas (Rimas) Kirvelevicius, currently Assistant Director, Animal Care Services, will have interim responsibilities for all operational issues related to Animal Care Services at Storrs and regional campuses. Karen Moré will continue to manage the IACUC and Dr. Holly Fitch will continue as IACUC Chair. These interim measures will allow Animal Care Services to continue to provide support for faculty and care of our animals, and allow time for recruitment of full-time replacement veterinarians.

Our continued focus is ensuring there is continuity of veterinary care, operations, and support for faculty as they conduct their research. As part of the future recruitment process, we will reach out to faculty and staff for input to help define the needs and structure of Animal Care Services that will best support UConn researchers and their work. ​

Please contact Wesley Byerly, Associate Vice President for Research Integrity & Regulatory Affairs, at 860-679-2230 if you have any questions.

 

Sincerely,
Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

UConn Research Innovation Newsletter – June 2017

Check out the latest UConn Research Innovation newsletter to learn about exciting technologies and startups with a UConn connection.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Compensation Announcement

May 31, 2017

 

Dear Investigators,

The University is taking steps to establish compensation standards for Postdoctoral Research Associates that ensure these valued members of our institution are compensated fairly and consistently. In order to achieve this, the University will use as a guideline the standard minimum pay for postdocs as determined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award (NRSA) zero year level of experience stipend amount. Effective June 9, 2017, the compensation for any Storrs postdoctoral research associate making less than the current NRSA zero level stipend of $47,484 will be increased to this new minimum. At UConn Health, because postdoctoral research associates are part of a union, their compensation will be addressed at a later date.

In case where postdocs are grant funded, we understand the financial challenge faced by Principal Investigators to identify additional funds on existing grants to pay for this increase. Thus, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) will provide one-half of the necessary funds to cover the required salary increases for FY18. Additional details concerning this institutional funding program can be found below in the Q&A.

The establishment of a standard minimum compensation for postdocs will allow UConn to remain competitive in attracting talented postdoctoral research associates to our research programs.  Compensation is an important part of the postdoc experience, but we know these valued members of our community are also concerned about other work-life issues.  Under the leadership of Christopher Delello, Vice President for Human Resources, the University will be conducting a comprehensive study of UConn’s policies and procedures related to postdoctoral positions.

The details about how this change will be implemented, in the form of Questions and Answers (Q&A) follows.  Additional questions about this change can be directed to Renee Boggis in Human Resources (860-486-0421), or Julie Schwager in the Office of the Vice President for Research (860) 372-2531.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeff Seemann
Former Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health
Dr. Jeremy Teitelbaum
Interim Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Scott Jordan
Executive Vice President for Administration &
Chief Financial Officer

 

Implementation Q&A

 

1.       How will the increase be implemented and will institutional support be available to help cover the cost increase?

  • The HR department will be responsible for identifying postdocs whose salaries will be adjusted to the new minimum, and HR will make the salary change effective June 9, 2017.  No PA forms or other changes initiated by administrators are necessary.
  • The impact of the increase will be partially offset by support from the University, as described in the table below:
State or Tuition Funded Postdocs

(Ledger 2)

 

Grant Funded Postdocs

All Other Funded Postdocs
The expected cost increase to be absorbed by the University Half of the expected cost increase for FY18 to be provided by the OVPR. Increases in future periods to be absorbed by grant funding sources or the PI’s department. Cost increase to be absorbed by the department

 

2.       How will the support from the OVPR for the cost increase on grants in FY18 be determined and funded?

  • OVPR support for the cost increase on grants for half of FY18 will be determined based on the postdoc’s salary funding sources as of the date of the change, June 9, 2017. For postdocs paid on grants, the cost increase will be calculated as the cost to maintain the postdoc on grants for FY18 (salary and fringe) irrespective of the termination date of the grant and/or the postdoc.  The calculated OVPR support will be deposited into the PI’s IDC account. Postdocs should remain funded from grants where the work is performed.  This will result in effort reports that meet federal requirements for salary charges to grants being based on payroll records that accurately reflect effort.  The OVPR support will be available to the PI to fund other grant-related expenses that would otherwise have been funded from the grant. The OVPR support for the cost increase on grants will be distributed to PIs in July 2017.

3.       My postdoc’s funding shifts after June 9, 2017 from a non-sponsored account to a sponsored account. Will the University support be available to me?

  • We recognize that changes in grant portfolios will occur after June 9, 2017.  There are currently no plans to fund changes that occur after June 9, 2017, but situations such as this will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

4.       I am, or have been, awarded a new grant that budgeted postdocs at the lower rate. Will the University support be available to me?

  • Support will be determined based on the impact of the salary increase and not based on the difference between the salary budgeted in the grant proposal and actual salary.

5.       My grant ends before June 9, 2017 and my postdoc will be moved onto non ledger-2 department funds.  Will I get any support?

  • No.  The PI support for the cost increase on grants will be calculated based on postdoc funding at June 9, 2017.  No reconciliation and rescission based on individual grant and postdoc situations will occur.

6.       My grant ends before June 9, 2017 and the postdoc will shift work to another grant with a different PI.  Will I lose my University support?

  • In a situation such as this, where the support has already been distributed, it will be left to the PIs/departments involved to find an equitable solution.

7.       Existing postdocs who are above the new minimum will not receive a salary increase.  Can I adjust my postdoc’s salary to maintain the experience-level variance that currently exists in postdoc salaries?

  • Investigators should contact their HR representative with questions related to compensation changes for postdocs making in excess of the new minimum.

8.       The cost increase will cause me to exceed the compensation budget on my grant.  What do I do?

  • To the extent your grant budget can absorb the increase in other pools, and subject to sponsor restrictions, you can request a re-budget using the normal re-budgeting process.  In the event your grant can’t absorb the increase because you are at the end of the grant, or sponsor restrictions preclude such a re-budget, the cost should be charged to the grant and then subsequently moved off the grant (via a cost transfer, not a labor redistribution) and onto your IDC account.

9.       I have a postdoc funded on a private fellowship or training grant.  Will their pay change too and how will that be handled?

  • Postdocs paid stipends through Accounts Payable (AP) saw their stipends increase in December 2016 when the NRSA stipend changed.
     

 

Dr. Jeffrey Fisher Retirement Announcement

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to let you know that Dr. Jeffrey Fisher has recently informed me that he plans to retire from his position as Director of UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) next summer (August 22, 2018). This comes after almost 43 years of dedicated service as an esteemed faculty member at the University of Connecticut and as a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences.

As a researcher, Dr. Fisher has published extensively in many areas in the field of health behavior change, including theory development and intervention design, implementation, evaluation and dissemination. He is one of the pioneers who helped define the field of HIV prevention intervention science and practice. He is the lead-author of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) model, which has been widely adopted around the world for conceptual and intervention work on health behavior change.  The interventions Dr. Fisher and his team developed have proven to be efficacious in multiple populations around the world, and in multiple health domains, with an emphasis on HIV prevention.  His work has also focused on increasing adherence to medications, an area in which he has published conceptual and intervention research. Dr. Fisher has been PI of over $25 million in NIH grants at UConn over a period of 25 years.

Along with his illustrious research career, Dr. Fisher is the founding Director of UConn’s Institute for Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP). InCHIP research has had a global impact in a variety of health domains, including HIV/AIDS, obesity, cancer, autism, and others. Thanks in large part to Dr. Fisher’s leadership, InCHIP has grown significantly over the last 16 years, from $1.4M in annual research spending in 2003 to $12M today. As the nexus of a vast network of researchers, InCHIP’s reach spans several UConn campuses and UConn Health and draws from more than 50 other research institutions both nationally and internationally. In FY17 alone, InCHIP had $55.5 million in active grants and total membership of 419 faculty/researcher affiliates. Since its inception, InCHIP researchers have brought over $140 million in new grants to UConn.

The university will conduct a national search for a new director of InCHIP. Additional information regarding the search will be forthcoming.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Fisher for his extraordinary service to the University of Connecticut, his outstanding contributions to the field of health behavior change and intervention research, and his dedicated mentorship of many graduate students and faculty, as well as his engagement with community leaders and policy makers to advance health promotion and intervention initiatives globally. We wish him well in his retirement.

Sincerely,

Jeff Seemann
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

OVPR Quarterly Reports

May 11, 2017

 

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to provide you with several reports relating to sponsored program activity—both research and education/service—managed by Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health. These reports include:

In the reports, data is presented in two ways: by the PI’s Academic Home Department and by the Managing Department or Center/Institute. Please refer to the first pages of the reports for definitions and information regarding the data.

Should you have any questions regarding these quarterly reports, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,


Dr. Jeff Seemann
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

Mystic Aquarium Gets Federal Grant To Help Train UConn Marine Biologists

Published in the Hartford Courant / May 3, 2017

Gregory B. Hladky

The Mystic Aquarium is receiving a $241,030 federal grant to help train University of Connecticut students in critical marine biology issues that include climate change, ocean acidification and other aquatic ecosystem issues.

The grant is coming from the National Science Foundation and will be used in a partnership program between the Mystic Aquarium and the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus in Groton.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2, said the grant will enable the educational partnership to give eight UConn students “a hands-on, immersive experience in preserving our oceans.”

“The fight against climate change and other environmental damage to our oceans is a critical effort,” Courtney said in praising the program for helping to train “the next generation of marine biologists and conservationists.”

UConn Innovation Fund Provides First Round Funding to Three Biotech Startups

Storrs, Conn. – April 20, 2017The University of Connecticut, in partnership with Connecticut Innovations (CI) and Webster Bank, today announced first round funding to three startups through the UConn Innovation Fund. The $1.5 million UConn Innovation Fund was established to provide early-stage financial support to new business startups affiliated with UConn.

The UConn Innovation Fund provides investments of up to $100,000 to companies founded by students, faculty members, and alumni of the university with an in-state business startup tied to research, advanced technologies, or innovations developed at UConn.

The companies receiving first-round funding are:

  • Torigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a startup housed in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) that is focused on providing veterinary cancer care solutions for companion animals using the animals’ existing tumor cells to fight the disease.
  • Bioarray Genetics, Inc. is a molecular diagnostics company focused on changing the way that cancer patients are evaluated and treated with tests that predict patient response to cancer treatments. Bioarray is housed at UConn’s Technology Incubation Program facility at UConn Health in Farmington.
  • Shoreline Biome, LLC. is another UConn TIP company that is focused on understanding how the human microbiome functions across the entire landscape of human health and disease.

“In the first round of funding, we identified three exceptional companies that all have ties to the university,” said Jeff Seemann, vice president for research at UConn. “UConn continues to be a center of innovation, and we look forward to supporting and catalyzing more promising startups in the future to continue to create new companies, new jobs, and economic growth in the state.”

The UConn Innovation Fund serves as a critical early-stage revenue stream for in-state business startups that will allow them to stay in Connecticut and grow. The fund’s investors review a company’s strength and existing resources, innovative technology, potential for commercialization, and likelihood of obtaining additional external funding among other factors. All investment decisions are made by a unanimous vote from UConn, CI, and Webster Bank.

“We look forward to supporting these startups with the resources to help them bring their products closer to commercialization,” said Matt McCooe, CEO of Connecticut Innovations. “We know how difficult it can be to grow a company at the earliest stages of development and this funding can help companies overcome some of those first hurdles.”

The fund is managed by the UConn Evaluation Board, fund managers, and an investment committee comprised of representatives from UConn, CI, and Webster Bank. The fund permits Connecticut Innovations—the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut’s innovative, growing companies—to continue its support of new business startups established through UConn. Webster Bank provides the key financial and banking expertise needed to help new companies grow.

“We are pleased to support Connecticut-based entrepreneurs in their efforts to bring exciting biotech innovations to market,” said Peter Hicks, senior vice president of the emerging growth banking group at Webster Bank.

The next deadline for applications is July 14, 2017.  Businesses interested in learning more about the fund should go to: innovationfund.uconn.edu.

 

About the University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut is one of the top 25 public research universities in the nation and is a research leader in the fields of advanced materials, additive manufacturing, biomedical devices, cybersecurity, energy, life sciences, sensors, and nanotechnology.  As Connecticut’s flagship institution of higher education, UConn serves as an important resource for Connecticut economic development and is dedicated to building collaborations with industry and entrepreneurs. To learn more, visit ip.uconn.edu.

About Connecticut Innovations
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut’s innovative, growing companies. CI provides venture capital and strategic support for early-stage technology companies; grants that support innovation and collaboration; and connections to its well-established network of partners and professionals. For more information, please visit www.ctinnovations.com.

About Webster Bank
Webster Financial Corporation is the holding company for Webster Bank, National Association. With $26.1 billion in assets, Webster provides business and consumer banking, mortgage, financial planning, trust, and investment services through 168 banking centers and 349 ATMs. Webster also provides mobile and Internet banking. Webster Bank owns the asset-based lending firm Webster Business Credit Corporation; the equipment finance firm Webster Capital Finance Corporation; and HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, which provides health savings account trustee and administrative services. Webster Bank is a member of the FDIC and an equal housing lender. For more information about Webster, including past press releases and the latest annual report, visit the Webster website at www.websterbank.com.

UConn Incubator Companies Raise $39.9 Million in 2016

Farmington, Conn. – April 17, 2017 – The University of Connecticut, today announced record growth in 2016 for the University’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP). TIP was established in 2004 to accelerate the growth of technology-based startups with a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.

TIP companies raised record investments in 2016. Last year TIP startups attracted a record $39.9 million in debt and equity to accelerate the growth of their operations. This is $15.5 million more than the previous record set in 2014.

TIP facility in Farmington, CT at UConn Health

TIP facility in Farmington, CT at UConn Health (UConn Photo/J. Gelineau)

Under the umbrella of UConn’s Office of the Vice President for Research, TIP supports UConn startups as well as innovative external technology ventures. Outside startups conduct R&D activities in Connecticut and benefit from UConn’s research infrastructure, specialized equipment, customized business support services and talent pool.

“The unprecedented state support from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for the Bioscience CT initiative is bearing fruit in the University of Connecticut Technology Incubation Program,” said Jeff Seemann, Ph.D., UConn/UConn Health vice president for research. “Instead of going to Boston or New York, these companies choose to stay in Connecticut to grow their companies, create jobs, and benefit society with their cutting-edge advances.”

Several TIP companies raised significant investments from debt and equity in 2016, contributing to the program’s record setting total.

Agrivida, an agritech company focused on animal nutrition, had the most substantial raise with $21 million in Series E funding. The funds will be used to advance the commercialization of Agrivida’s patented GRAINZYME® feed additive enzymes for use with poultry and swine, and to support product development for dairy and beef cattle.

“Being a part of UConn’s incubator has helped us meet significant milestones for our company,” said Dan Meagher, CEO of Agrivida. “We are looking forward to delivering on our promise to improve the production efficiency of meat, milk, and eggs to help address the growing global demand for food.”

Frequency Therapeutics successfully raised $9.1 million in 2016, and recently announced a $32 million Series A financing, to continue developing a drug-based therapy to restore hearing in individuals with hearing loss caused by continuous exposure to loud noises. Frequency is applying its proprietary platform, called Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA™), to regenerate inner ear sensory hair cells, which detect sound and transmit signals to the brain. Per the World Health Organization (WHO), 360 million people worldwide have moderate or worse hearing loss, with an additional 1.1 billion people at risk for hearing loss from recreational noise alone.

“Frequency’s scientific team, based at TIP at UConn Health, played an important role in supporting the development of the company’s PCA platform to restore healthy tissue in the body,” said Bob Langer, Ph.D., the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of Frequency Therapeutics. “We greatly appreciate the ongoing support from TIP as Frequency advances its program for chronic noise-induced hearing loss and looks to expand into additional therapeutic indications.”

Diameter Health, a healthcare software company that helps providers analyze data from their electronic health records more effectively, raised $2.3 million; and CaroGen Corporation, an emerging vaccine immunotherapy company, raised $2 million.

UConn researchers working in the lab

Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, right, with Kasandra Rodriguez, a research associate at CaroGen Corporation’s technology incubation lab in Farmington on Dec. 12, 2016. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

According to Bijan Almassian, CEO of CaroGen Corporation, the TIP location provides a beneficial vantage point to meet and acquire the talent and expertise needed to conduct R&D operations to grow his company. “The powerful combination of faculty expertise, student and graduate hires, and seasoned industry scientists from across the state give us access to the full array of capabilities that are enabling our progress,” Almassian said.

UConn’s Technology Incubation Program continues to outperform other technology incubators, both in Connecticut and nationally. According to the latest National Business Incubation Association survey data, in 2016 UConn’s incubator was 12,000 square feet larger and housed 62% more startups than that national average. TIP companies raised $39.5 million dollars more in capital investments than the Connecticut average, as reported in the latest Connecticut Business Incubator Network survey.

“TIP is an established program in Connecticut that is known to improve the likelihood of startup success,” said Mostafa Analoui, Ph.D., executive director of venture development and TIP at UConn. “We are pleased with the growth we experienced in 2016, and hope to keep up this momentum.”

Analoui was hired in last year to lead UConn’s efforts to identify disruptive technologies that are ripe for venture development, recruit entrepreneurs and talent to lead these startups, and raise early-stage and follow-on funding to grow these companies.

In January 2016, a $19 million expansion at the TIP facility in Farmington at UConn Health was completed. Paid for through the state of Connecticut’s landmark Bioscience CT initiative, the addition increased total square footage by 20,000 square feet. The program now boasts over 32,000 square feet of high-tech wet labs and office space at its two major locations in Storrs and Farmington.

The extra space has allowed TIP to accept more technology startups into the program. In 2016, TIP was home to 33 companies – the most in the program’s history.

TIP companies contributed to economic development in the state through increased job creation. At the end of 2016, TIP companies employed 71 full-time and 30 part-time employees. This compares with the state average of 27 full- and part-time employees at other incubators in Connecticut.

More than 85 startup companies have been supported through TIP since it was established in 2004. These companies have raised more than $50 million in grant funding, $80 million in debt and equity, and more than $45 million in revenue during that time.

For more information about the UConn Technology Incubation Program, call 860-679-3992 or visit ip.uconn.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jessica McBride
Office of the Vice President for Research
860-486-5813
jessica.mcbride@uconn.edu

Elimination of Graduate Research Assistant Tuition on Grants

April 4, 2017

 

Dear Colleagues:

In our continuing effort to reduce the costs of research at UConn and UConn Health, we are eliminating the requirement to charge any portion of graduate research assistant tuition to research grants, effective Spring 2017.

From 2009 to 2016, University policy required that 60% of full-time in-state tuition per graduate assistant be charged to external grants funding faculty members’ research projects. In Fiscal Year 2016, we reduced the impact of this policy on grant funds by returning an amount equal to half of the tuition collected from grants to faculty investigators’ indirect cost return accounts.

Beginning with charges for the Spring 2017 semester, faculty will no longer be required to charge any portion of graduate research assistant tuition to their grants. Faculty will also no longer be required to include [tuition] charges for graduate research assistants on future grant applications, thus increasing their competitiveness with funding agencies. Savings from graduate research assistant tuition charges can now be applied toward other direct cost needs for faculty research projects. This applies to all sponsored projects, including those being conducted at UConn Health.

Researchers with existing grants or grant applications that include graduate research assistant tuition for Spring 2017 and beyond should rebudget those dollars into other direct cost items, at their discretion within sponsor specific rules. For questions or to request assistance with the rebudgeting process, please reach out to your department grant administrator or your regular contact person in Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Although this is another positive step towards increasing the buying power of grants for our faculty, we recognize that it does not directly address a major concern contributing to the high cost of doing research at UConn and UConn Health: very high fringe rates relative to our peers and aspirants. While these rates are controlled by the state, we will continue to seek solutions for this important issue.

Despite significant financial constraints, we will continue to pursue creative solutions to decrease the cost of doing research at UConn and UConn Health. Some of the recent initiatives to accomplish this include: providing financial support to PIs impacted by large increases in fringe rates in 2016, establishing direct IDC returns to PIs for the first time at UConn Health, non-research IDC returns for the first time in Storrs, and supporting the NIH-driven increase in minimum salaries for postdoctoral fellows.

Thank you for your continued contributions to UConn/UConn Health’s success as a leading research institution. We look forward to supporting you in your future research activities.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeff Seemann
Vice President for Research UConn/UConn Health
Dr. Jeremy Teitelbaum
Interim Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Scott Jordan
Executive Vice President for Administration &
Chief Financial Officer