Vanderbilt Program in Research Administration Development: Level 1


Demystifying the Research Enterprise

As we continue to move into an era of increased competition for federal funds, an increased need for interdisciplinary team science among researchers, and a heightened need for compliance, Vanderbilt wants to ensure that front-line research administrators at both Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are equipped to effectively support their faculty members while also serving as an important component of their institutions’ commitments to the responsible conduct of research. We also aim to build a practice of collaboration between administrators and their faculty members, thus reducing the administrative burden on our researchers.

The goal of VPRAD, which has graduated more than 500 faculty and staff members from the program across 29 cohorts since 2009, is to provide a broad overview of the research enterprise at Vanderbilt for individuals who have some experience in their position but need a wider perspective of how everything fits together. Topics include support and compliance in the research enterprise as well as elements of both pre- and post-award for grants and contracts.

VPRAD includes presentations from key administrators at Vanderbilt, including both faculty and staff. Sessions are designed to build understanding of important topics in research through engaging lectures, presentations and panel sessions, activities that support active learning, discussion groups, tours of research facilities, meetings with peer mentors, and activities designed to build a practice of collaboration. There are also be break-out sessions for participants to talk about roles and responsibilities within the research enterprise.



Participants then attend the program orientation and are matched with a mentor based on criteria included on the initial application. During the 13-week program, sessions will be held one afternoon or morning each week and will include lectures, group activities, applications, extension activities. Experiential tours and time with one's mentor are scheduled outside the set workshop period. Comprehensive exams will commence one week after the final session.

With the exception of the experiential tours, the program is held in Room 338 of the 2525 West End Avenue Building on the Vanderbilt University campus.


program outcomes

In two program evaluations (in 2011 and 2015) we found that the successful completion of VPRAD increases administrators’ awareness of compliance and integrity issues in the research enterprise.  It increases the likelihood that administrators will utilize program resources after the program to inform compliance-minded decision-making in the research enterprise.  VPRAD provides administrators with the confidence to directly engage with faculty over these issues. In 2012, Dr. Gannon presented the VPRAD model and the findings from the initial program evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity’s conference. Gannon has also presented VPRAD at both the national and regional conferences of the National Council of University Research Administrators and the American Association of Academic Pediatrics.


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