Basic Sciences Strategic Plan Accomplishments

Accomplishments achieved to date

Throughout the life cycle of this strategic plan, the work groups tasked with advancing objectives are documenting milestones that have been reached. To learn more, click on the headings below. To see details of the objectives themselves, visit Basic Sciences Strategic Plan Action Items and Progress.

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Objective 1: Integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into every aspect of the SMPH Basic Sciences through the Building Community framework.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: Improve communication of Building Community efforts to graduate and postdoctoral trainee communities.

  • Continuing to highlight Building Community efforts in In the Know.
  • Building Community Steering Committee is engaged in strategic planning for work moving forward.
  • Communications team subcommittee is working on a 2023 communications plan.
  • Preparation for possible second pulse survey in Spring 2023.

Accomplishments related to action item 2: In partnership with UW Health, create SMPH affinity groups for underrepresented trainees, including those from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities.

  • UW Health/SMPH Employee Resource Groups (ERG)s launched in April 2022; 16 SMPH community members have joined.
  • Campus DEI leaders are working with the UW-Madison Chief Diversity Officer La Var Charleston, PhD, and the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA) to define campus affinity groups.

Additional accomplishments of the SMPH Office of Office of Diversity and Equity Transformation that relate to this objective:

  • Goal 1: Share best practices through Community of Practice.
    • Separated Basic Science and Clinical Departments Communities of Practice.
  • Goal 2: Support longitudinal DEI learning.
    • Offered Searching for Excellence Workshop in collaboration with WISELI twice.
    • DEI modules are now available in Canvas.
    • Medical Physics department learning roadmap.
  • Goal 3: Collaborate with HR to create standard tools.
    • “Stay interview” toolkit
    • Recruitment and search process guides

Objective 2: Plan, create and implement centralized graduate admissions, recruitment, and initial experience for SMPH graduate training programs.

Accomplishments – 2022

  • Created a task force with essential representation of various graduate student training groups to design a plan to centralize SMPH graduate training.
  • The task force analyzed multiple integrated graduate programs from around the United States to model what would work best for SMPH.
  • The task force outlined a graduate program integration plan with recommendations for implementation. This plan completed the goals of the first task force.
  • An implementation task force, composed largely of graduate program directors, has been established and will begin meeting in January 2023 to finalize and implement the proposed plan.

Objective 3: Enhance graduate student and postdoctoral training through inclusive recruitment and retention strategies and prioritize postdocs’ individual development to independence.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: In alignment with campus and school goals to diversify the professoriate, develop program to train and retain UR postdocs as faculty and action item 4: Develop approaches to increase the number of postdoctoral and graduate trainees from underrepresented groups.

  • Developed a draft pilot plan that creates a path for recruitment of underrepresented postdocs that is coupled to retention as faculty member in SMPH departments.

Accomplishments related to action item 2: Develop survey for postdocs to determine reasons for short average tenure within SMPH/UW-Madison.

  • Developing an exit survey for postdocs to better assess the experience of postdocs within SMPH.

Accomplishments related to action item 3: Enhance mental health and wellness support for graduate students and postdocs.

  • Reviewed available mental health and wellness support for graduate students and postdocs.

Objective 4: Acquire state-of-the-art technologies to strengthen our research infrastructure and enable collaborative partnerships.

Accomplishments – 2022

All 2022 accomplishments relate to action item 1: Identify faculty directors of research core clusters recently established by the Dean’s office and task them to understand staffing/equipment needs within each core cluster.

Accomplishments related to goal 1: Identify directors of individual or groups of core clusters and organize quarterly meetings between them and the newly recruited Senior Director of SMPH Cores.

  • The Senior Director of SMPH Cores identified an advisory group that meets monthly to discuss topics critical to the operation of cores. In 2022, major topics included the development of a system to manage finances and “sharing the word.”

Accomplishments related to goal 2: Develop an investigator survey to obtain data on the frequency of use, timeliness, expense, and overall quality of cores (including questions to understand why investigators may have chosen to avoid the use of one or more core facilities).

  • The SMPH Core Advisory Group developed an investigator survey to obtain data on the frequency of use, timeliness, expense, and overall quality of cores. The survey will be tailored to core type. First surveys will launch in 2023 with querying continuing through 2024.

Accomplishments related to goal 3: Task core cluster directors to define resources and staff/equipment needs that exist within individual research cores.

  • 2022 annual reports focused on equipment.
  • Four core directors received Core Revitalization Grants from OVCRGE to upgrade equipment.

Accomplishments related to goal 4: Review requests for core augmentation (staff/equipment), based on core cluster directors’ recommendations and determine cost sharing models to be responsive.

  • Planning to request recommendations from core directors during cluster meetings in the beginning of 2022 and in the annual reports.

Accomplishments related to goal 5: Develop a standardized approach to address requests for funding to support instrument acquisition, including requests for matching support requested to enhance the competitiveness of extramural and intramural grant applications.

  • The SMPH Core Advisory Group began discussion to determine whether Smartsheets would be the best software to manage several core-related workflows including instrument acquisition. The UWCCC has implemented Smartsheets to manage finances and requests, including pilot proposals.

Objective 5: Foster new connections among SMPH investigators.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: Develop metrics to measure, compare and update external funding activities in SMPH, including multi-PI funding.

  • Partnered with SMPH Analytics to begin developing metrics to measure, compare and update external funding activities in SMPH.

Completed – Action item 2: Maintain updated list of NIH Faculty Councils and encourage leaders at UW-Madison SMPH to participate in these important activities.

  • Identified current SMPH faculty who serve on NIH institute advisory councils and developed a system to update this information annually.
  • Facilitated an invitation from the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine (CHGPM) to Mark Craven, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, who recently completed a term serving on the NHGRI’s National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. Dr. Craven presented a seminar to the CHGPM community about ANVIL, an upcoming cloud-based data commons for NHGRI-supported public genomics data to facilitate analysis, and about NHGRI’s vision of using machine learning models to improve biological interpretation.

Accomplishments related to action item 3: Create professional events that foster social connections

  • Created SMPH Collaborate, an event series that fosters connections among investigators, researchers, and learners through the sharing of research discoveries and building of community. Inaugural events were held April and September 2022 with additional sessions scheduled for spring 2023.

Objective 6: Revise faculty promotion criteria with increased emphasis on collaborative research, new and non-traditional areas of research, and service and outreach related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: Clarify the use of the integrated packet as a way to apply for promotion for the Biological Sciences Divisional Committee.

  • Ongoing discussions about the integrated case in multiple venues. Planning discussion at Pathways to Promotion – Tenure Track session in February 2023.

Accomplishments related to action item 2: Incorporate DEI work in the SMPH promotion guidelines as appropriate.

  • Working with members of the UW-Madison Biological Sciences Divisional Committee to make additions to the tenure guideline.
  • Added DEI language to the CHS guidelines to ensure that DEI activities are recognized for promotion in teaching, clinical/public health, research and leadership.
  • Working with a SMPH committee on additions to the CT track.
  • Discussing these guidelines changes with departments as requested.

Accomplishments related to action item 3: Clearly define the importance and benefits of service and outreach to the university, the advancement of science, and the well-being of Wisconsin communities and underserved populations.

  • Collecting examples of successful dossiers with service and clinical innovation as areas of significant accomplishment to add to the Promotions Tool Kit.
  • Continuing to emphasize innovation as key for areas of excellence and significant accomplishment in Pathways to Promotion Programs.

Accomplishments related to action item 4: Improve mentoring and promotions oversight committee functions in SMPH departments.

  • Offered a Making the Most of Your Mentoring Relationship workshop in January 2022.
  • Updated the introduction of the Mentoring and Promotion’s Oversight Committees Guides. Continue to publicize the guides.
  • Meeting with departments as requested to present updates to promotions guidelines for all tracks and training for oversight committees.
  • Planning a Faculty Mentoring Faculty Workshop for assistant and associate professors in January 2023 (collaboration between ICTR and the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development).
  • Planning a mentoring workshop for tenure track assistant professors in February and March 2023 (collaboration between the Office of Basic Research, Biotechnology and Graduate Studies and the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development).

Objective 7: Dramatically increase philanthropic funding of basic science research and research training.

Accomplishments – 2022

  • Appointed Objective 7 task force members (Professors Coon, Fabry, Nickels) whose roles include serving as basic science content experts, facilitating funder engagement, and contributing to the development of task force workflows.
  • Secured leadership declaration of top fundraising priorities for UW SMPH and UW Health.
  • Created a process for leadership to regularly evaluate and re-order top fundraising priorities.
  • Identified 25 grant-making foundations as prospective funders for each of the top fundraising priorities. Met with leadership of five foundations to establish mutual understanding of capabilities and interests in priority areas.
  • Established robust communication with Science Philanthropy Alliance, which represents industry and family foundations interested in funding fundamental research, technology development, and research training.

Objective 8: Develop and implement school-wide mechanisms to encourage, recognize, and reward exceptional achievement by SMPH faculty, staff, and learners.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: Develop new mechanisms for identifying and then recognizing outstanding achievement by faculty and staff.

  • The implementation team has discussed ideas and plans to prioritize them.

Accomplishments related to action item 2: Actively engage departments, centers and faculty to ensure that highly qualified faculty and staff are nominated for national awards made on the basis of professional achievement.

  • The SMPH hosted a workshop open to all UW-Madison faculty interested in competing to become a new Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.

Accomplishments related to action item 3: Create new awards for SMPH learners.

  • Requested that center directors create new awards for learners, which resulted in one center funding new awards: The George M. O’Brien Urology Research Center funded two new $300 sponsored abstract and poster awards for students. The awards focus on diverse student populations and were presented in conjunction with the 79th Annual National Conference of the Beta Chapter of the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS).

Accomplishments related to action item 4: Create new awards for SMPH faculty and staff.

  • The implementation team has discussed ideas.

Objective 9: Exploit the recently executed data use agreement between SMPH and UW Health to accelerate basic science discoveries from de-identified patient data.

The team tasked with implementing this objective began its work during fall semester 2021.  Accomplishments will be reported annually.

Objective 10: Expand our expertise in quantitative biomedical imaging (QBI) and define new approaches for diagnostic biomarker discovery.

The team tasked with implementing this objective began its work during fall semester 2021.  Accomplishments will be reported annually.

Objective 11: Improve health in underserved communities by developing or improving the methods, metrics, and tools needed to study root causes of health disparities.

Accomplishments – 2022

Objective 11 has one action item: Develop or improve methods, metrics, and tools needed to study root causes of health disparities.

Accomplishments related to Goal 1: Facilitate establishment and growth of the Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR).

  • CHDR Cores in the areas of exposome research infrastructure, education, and scientific community continue to grow rapidly.
  • 14 new and developing CHDR-industry partnerships are progressing. These include a number of large multi-national industry entities.
  • CHDR investigators are informing federal government, industry, research and community health disparities initiatives. CHDR produces the metrics that enable federal, state and private health equity payer strategies including those within the US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Accomplishments related to Goal 2: Work with CHDR leadership to identify RFAs to which CHDR faculty could be responsive, particularly as collaborative teams.

  • CHDR has developed a number of new and evolving communications strategies to raise awareness of funding opportunities.
  • Seven new CHDR-administered federal National Institutes of Health grants have been submitted during the past 12 months – five have been awarded, two are under review.
  • CHDR provides letters of support for aligned projects and facilitates new cross-disciplinary collaborations in the health disparities research space.

Accomplishments related to Goal 3: Identify and compile lists of investigators and clinical practitioners by research areas/interests, with the potential to form inter/multidisciplinary research teams to apply for grant funding.

  • CHDR welcomed 41 new affiliates in 2022 representing the full SMPH spectrum of clinical, social, and basic science disciplines, presenting multiple opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and diverse scientific community building. Outreach strategy will continue.

Objective 12: Facilitate the use of genomics and data analysis pipelines to understand normal development, deepen our knowledge about disease, and improve human health.

Accomplishments – 2022

Objective 1 has one action item: Facilitate the use of genomics and data analysis pipelines.

Accomplishments related to Goal 1: Facilitate growth of the Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine (CHGPM).

  • Established and staffed a Precision Medicine Research Service to fill the gap between biotech center and all other aspects of sample procurement/regulatory requirements, research strategy and analysis. This service makes NGS analysis accessible to any UW faculty member without the requirement of specialized knowledge.  This service is also creating standard analysis pipelines that can be shared among investigators.

Accomplishments related to Goal 2: Identify RFAs to which CHGPM faculty could be responsive, particularly as collaborative teams.

  • Coordinating with UW Health precision medicine leadership to identify RFAs for clinically integrated projects.

Accomplishments related to Goal 4: Develop marketing strategies to promote the mission and goals of CHGPM, as well as the programs and services the center provides.

  • The first annual retreat was held in Fall 2022: Advertising for the Precision Medicine Service.
  • Regular seminars are underway.

Objective 13: Continuously scan the scientific landscape to identify targeted opportunities that leverage our emerging strengths.

Accomplishments – 2022

Accomplishments related to action item 1: Identify targeted opportunities that leverage our emerging strengths.

Accomplishments related to Goal 1: Develop new mechanisms to highlight RFAs to specific scientists (including multi-investigator teams) who would be highly competitive, particularly with appropriate administrative support for grant submission purposes.

  • Developed mechanisms to improve dissemination of funding opportunity announcements through a more targeted approach:
    • Building a protocol with Smartsheets project management software that will be disseminated to departments. Research administrators will be trained on how to organize by science area in order to send to applicable investigators.
    • Developed a “grants report” summary of various federal and non-federal funding opportunity announcements that will be distributed to the Research Administrators Network (RAN) and posted on the medRAMP website; first launch will be January 20, 2023. Will be updated weekly.
    • Initiated the practice of developing “strategic funding plans” for targeted investigators/groups.
    • Held several training sessions for research administrators and scholars on the use of PIVOT to identify funding opportunities for specific investigators and science areas, including how to track, notify and disseminate to groups and investigators.
  • Gathered data on all UW-Madison grants eligible for diversity supplements and the amount of funding from diversity supplements over the past five years. Goal is to use this data to increase the number of diversity supplements applied for and received at SMPH through awareness and medRAMP support.

Completed – Goal 4: Redesign the medRAMP website to better reflect its purpose and highlight key funding opportunities.

  • Used stakeholder feedback to improve the medRAMP website (added funding for investigators, additional examples of successfully funded grants to the Grants Library Repository (GLR), online portal for GLR submissions, and DMS Policy information) with more enhancements forthcoming (human subjects protocol, DOD grant information, weekly grants report).

Completed – Goal 5: Assess and potentially revise the funding model that supports the medRamp Grant Office to provide investigators administrative support for submission of large and complex grants (e.g., P & U grants, etc).

  • Implemented a new fee structure for the medRAMP office.

Accomplishments related to Goal 6: Define standardized processes by which research cores can be responsive to RFAs to support instrument acquisition.

  • Developed a report that collated identified needs from SMPH research cores’ annual reports with the goal of prioritizing these needs to find and disseminate funding opportunities.

Accomplishments related to action item 2: Scan campus for research areas of strength where new training grants could be awarded.

  • Used NIH reports and feedback from T32 administrators to gather and analyze data on UW-Madison T32 training grants, including comparisons to peers. Identified gaps and areas of strength, including the need for administrative support. Office of Training Grant Support hired a new staff member to provide administrative support for T32 development and management.