Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

November 25, 2015

TAFC wants connection with Senate research committee

The University Senate research committee will consider a request to establish a permanent connection with the Senate tenure and academic freedom committee (TAFC).

Maria Kovacs, TAFC co-chair, asked the research committee at its Nov. 20 meeting to add a permanent liaison to TAFC to its roster.

“Many of the complaints come to us from the medical school,” she said, touting TAFC’s potential to inform the research committee on recent or recurring issues.

“It’s important for us to have ongoing communication,” she said, estimating that eight out of 10 violations that come to TAFC relate to research.

“Who controls access to the (research) funds is an ongoing issue that comes up,” Kovacs said.

Given that the research committee is working to get an overall view of research-related policies and procedures and that, unlike TAFC, it is not a grievance committee, Kovacs said it would be “incredibly important” for the research committee to have an understanding of what’s happening at the ground level.

TAFC deals privately with faculty members’ concerns, but could present the broader underlying issues without disclosing confidential details, Kovacs said.

In addition, Kovacs said TAFC could alert the research committee to unintended loopholes or weaknesses in Pitt policies.

Research committee co-chair Penelope Morel said the proposal would be addressed in an executive session.

In other business:

• Mark Redfern, vice provost for research, reported that the provost’s policy review committee is making progress and hopes to bring some policy proposals to the Senate committee in January.

Redfern is heading the committee, which is reviewing the University’s intellectual property/patents, copyright and conflict of interest (COI) policies through a trio of subcommittees.

• George Huber, interim vice provost for research conduct and compliance, sought input from the committee on his draft comments in response to proposed changes in federal regulations regarding human subjects research. Comments are due Dec. 7.

The proposed changes include a move to a more centralized IRB review process for multi-institution studies, and clarification of the wording on consent forms. Some types of studies that now require IRB review would be deemed exempt, and some that currently are categorized as exempt would be considered “excluded,” or excused from needing administrative or IRB review.

While the federal proposed rulemaking is intended to make institutional review processes less onerous, Huber said Pitt and other institutions worry that the reverse will be true.

• The research committee continued fine-tuning its mission statement. An updated version will be presented at the Dec. 18 meeting for further review.

—Kimberly K. Barlow   

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 7

Leave a Reply