1.1 Breakthroughs in modern science are driven, to a large extent, by advanced technologies that have become increasingly more expensive, complex and highly specialized.
1.2 A recent survey by the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CoM&HS), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), of its existing research infrastructure and resources, has revealed the following:
- Under-utilized equipments/instrumentation and laboratory space
- Redundant laboratory sites
- Difficult access of investigators to existing common equipments/instrumentation
- Some existing instrumentation requires upgrading.
- Existence of well trained staff who can assume specialized job function.
1.3 Therefore, the CoMHS has established Core Research Facilities (CRF), which are essential for the development of internationally competitive biomedical research. The CRF is a collection of college campus-wide, centralized, highly specialized laboratories for developing and providing state-of-the-art biomedical research resources to facilitate biomedical research. The objective of the CRF is to create a system that will allow all SQU investigators to access a wide range of services, eliminate bureaucracy, improve efficiency and provide the potential for sustainable deployment of necessary technologies and the corresponding expertise. These facilities are available on a fee-for-service basis to the entire biomedical research community throughout SQU.
1.4 Specific Aims
- Consolidate expensive technologies into centralized specialized facility.
- Maximize the use of available laboratory space.
- Ensure an easy access, to new biomedical research services and costly instrumentation, for a wide variety of investigators, avoiding duplication of expense and effort.
- Provide highly trained personnel to carry out the procedures for multiple users, and coordinate efficient and high quality controlled-services.
- Expand the infrastructure by implementing new shared services as needed.
- Provide a variety of in-house training programs for internal and external scientists.
- Each facility will provide a particular specialized service.
- Provide an ideal scientific environment for close interaction of our scientists
- Constant upgrading of instruments to keep pace with the rapid advancement in biomedical research and applications.
Successful development and sustenance of the core facilities, in the long term, will rely on radical changes that may include:
- The new system will require cooperation and changes in the current working relationship among investigators.
- Invest in the latest technology and accommodate for new technology as it becomes available.
- Serving the needs of the research community at large extending across multiple departments and, ideally, schools.
- Crossing departmental boundaries by cross-training selected staff members or by attracting industry scientists to the core facilities.
The vision of the CRF is to become the backbone of the Medical Research Center, with an ultimate goal of promoting excellence in advanced basic and clinical research.
The mission of the CRF is to provide access to state-of-the art specialized instruments and related expertise to support the research activities of investigators throughout the university; promote collaborative research among investigators, and enhance the education/training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows
Upper administration (Dean)
The functions of the top administration are:
- Lead the management of the core facilities
- Approval of the strategic planning to run the CRF
- Approval of the rules and regulations within the CRF
- Provide the financial support for the facilities
- Address the issues that have not been resolved within the management Committee (MC).
Management Committee (MC)
The role of the MC is to:
- Oversee the whole management of the CRF
- Collect and evaluate the annual reports
- Review the needs of the CRF
- Establish the rules and regulations for the running of CRF
- Update the strategic planning of the CRF
- Address the issues that have not been resolved by the manager of the CRF
- Report to the Dean
If required, the academic advisor will act as a consultant/expert providing scientific expertise and technical troubleshooting/consultancy services to the manager of the core facility.
Manager of a core facility
The duties of a director of the CRF include:
- Oversee the direct management of the core facility team.
- Provide investigators technical advice on utility of a particular methodology used in a research project.
- Establishing up-to-date teaching/training programs within the facility.
- Teaching MLS laboratory students.
- Updating the technology within the facility.
- Developing policies and procedures as they relate to personnel, budgets…etc
- Maintaining an effective laboratory compliance communication with others
- Reporting to the MC.
- Monitoring various regulations and ensuring that the research community is timely notified of such changes.
- Providing annual report
- Working with the Office of the Postgraduate Studies & Research to outline objectives for the coming year.
- Maintaining an up-to-date Website and database for users, income and expenditures.
- Maintaining the database used by the core facility search engine.
- Maintaining the minutes of regular meetings of the core facility team.
The duties of the technical staff (Biomedical Scientists and Research Assistants) are:
- Running the daily operations within the facility (Executing request forms, research experiments, training etc.)
- Informing the director of the list of orders/needs for the facility.
- Assisting the director of the facility if needed.
- Supporting teaching/workshops.
- Reporting to the director.
In this phase of CRF development, the following rules will be implemented for better management and maintenance of good practice in the CRF:
A new website will be opened on the website of the college of Medicine & Health Sciences reserved for the Core Facilities, describing their mission, their activities and the procedures for processing samples.
For research projects, a request form should be filled on line by the investigator and sent to the core facility Manager (the sender should receive an automated receipt and notified about the reasonable time required to complete the work).
The investigator or one of his team members should be notified when samples should be provided as wells as when the work is completed.
Other specific procedural details will be displayed on the webpage reserved for each core facility.
To avoid delays in receiving commonly and routinely used supplies and reagents, a yearly small budget should be provided by the college administration purchase in advance a bulk of these supllies (e.g. Culture media, pipettes for cell culture). However, each investigator will use his/her own funding to cover the expenses of the reagents and supplies used in processing their samples.
Each CRF should negotiate bulk discounts with and serves as a storeroom for several vendors to facilitate the ordering task for the investigators. The core facility team will organize their work on scheduled basis to avoid delays and to efficiently coordinate the work.
A core facility staff member who did not participate in the design and/or the execution of the research plan is not eligible to be part of any resulting publication.
Each core facility is required to submit an Annual Report by September 1st. The report should be sent as a pdf. file to the Faculty Advisory Committee Chair.
Each year the Office for Research will conduct an annual User Survey of each core facility during the month of March. The User Survey will be designed, implemented and assessed by the Office for Research.
During the first week of May, managers of the core facilities will be notified of its availability and how to access it on the web. It will be the responsibility of each manager to send out a request that their users complete the survey in a timely manner (within two weeks). Results of the survey will be provided to each manager during the third week of May so that it can be incorporated into the Annual Report (due September 1st).
The annual report must include the results of the survey and address any major concerns by users and how such concerns will be remedied. The information to be included in the annual report is detailed in the Appendix.
The different facilities are summarized below with their original department:
Allocated Space/Room Number
EXISTING CORE FACILITIES
Electron Microscopy (EM)
0061, 0062, 0063, 0064…etc
Cell Culture (CC)
Animal Facility (AF)
Current location at SQU
DEVELOPING CORE FACILITIES
Pathology & Anatomy
Molecular Biology (MB)
Hematology lab, SQUH
Flow Cytometry (FC)
Each core research facility is required to submit an Annual Report by September 1st. The report should be sent to the Office for Research
Note: When answering questions about the "past year," please use the September to September calendar.
The following information should be included (use Arial, point size 11):
- MANAGEMENT (2 page limit)
- History & Mission:
- Provide a brief history of your facility, including the year it was created, and Department of origin.
- Briefly describe its mission and how it currently addresses one or more of the strategic research needs of the university.
- Briefly describe strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of the facility.
- Describe the responsibilities of each person involved in the daily running of the facility.
- Describe any unique expertise that enables them to fulfill their roles.
- List the per cent effort of each person noting if it involves paid or contributed service.
- Describe any change in the positions, responsibilities or per cent effort in the past year.
- Include a curriculum vitae for each person in the Appendix.
Include any publications, promotion, honors or awards during the past year (e.g., grant for new equipment in the facility, publication using data generated in facility, award for developing a new technique provided in the facility, money generated from workshops etc).
- Briefly describe new skills or mastery of new techniques obtained during the past year for each member of the staff.
- List attendance and presentations at seminars, courses, workshops, national or international meetings.
- RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (2 page limit)
- Instrument-Based Facilities:
- Provide a brief description of each instrument and service provided by the facility and their rates for users.
- Describe how each contributes to the mission of the facility.
- Service-Based Facilities:
- Provide a brief description of the services provided by the facility and the rates for users.
- If instrument costs are involved, then explain how this is incorporated into the fee structure.
- Explain how each service contributes to the mission of the facility.
- New Instruments and Services:
- Describe any new instruments or services that were added to the facility in the past year and how they were funded.
- Explain how they will be incorporated into the management plan of the facility.
- Grant Application for New equipment:
- Describe any grant application for new instruments during the past year (granting agency, program, submission date…etc) and the outcome of the application process
- If not funded, then explain how you plan to respond to the reviewers
- Include a copy of the Summary Statement from the Review Panel
- CUSTOMER SATISFACTION (1 page limit)
- Customer list:
- Provide a list of all customers of the facility during the past year (in Appendix).
- Use the spreadsheet provided.
- Provide an overview of the breakdown of users by School/Department.
- Customer publications:
- List publications of customers who generated data in your facility and used it in the publication (in Appendix).
- Provide an overview of the publication list by school/department.
- Change in Customer Base:
- Compare the size of your user base with the previous year.
- Identify major trends in the use of any equipment indicating a potential shift in the need for that instrument.
- Provide an analysis of how such a trend will impact long-term support for the instrument and how this might be remedied.
Include the results of the 2010 User Survey (in Appendix) and address any problems raised by the users.
- EDUCATION (1 page limit)
- Graduate & Undergraduate Courses:
- Describe any involvement of your facility in graduate and undergraduate courses (include course title, instructor, coordinator, number of students).
- Explain how this contributes to the mission of your facility.
- Describe any workshops or tutorials sponsored by your facility that were aimed at educating/training users of your facility.
- Explain how this contributes to the mission of your facility.
- OUTREACH ACTIVITIES (1 page limit)
- Describe any educational opportunities supported by your facility that involved groups outside of the university, and explain how this contributes to the mission of your facility.
- Describe any involvement with companies as either customers or partners with your facility, and explain how this contributes to the mission of your facility
- Describe any testing of new equipment or services on loan in your facility and whether this resulted in pilot data for grant applications.
- COMMUNICATION OF SERVICES (1 page limit) the users
- Webpage Development: describe efforts to upgrade and maintain your facility webpage during the past year; explain how you are paying for this effort.
- Research Facilities Fair - describe participation in any Research Fairs on campus during the past year; address whether these were useful activities and how they might be improved.
- Open Houses - describe any open houses that your facility participated in during the past year; provide feedback as to whether they were useful activities and how they might be improved.
- National and International Conferences - describe attendance at national and international conferences attended by the management or staff of the facility during the past year (conference name, location, dates); make special note of any conference dedicated specifically to core facility issues (e.g., ABRF, GLIIFCA, ALMA etc).
Signatures are required for all members of the Faculty Advisory Committee indicating that each has read and approved the Annual Report; preparation of the Annual Report is an opportune time to have the Committee meet to discuss the issues raised in the Report and to provide input on decisions that need addressing.