UHN research held a series of town halls to discuss a number of important initiatives that are happening across UHN.
 
This online forum has been established to provide responses to some of the questions that may not have been addressed during the town halls and to provide an opportunity for more questions and feedback. We welcome all questions and would like this to act as a platform for further discussion about future directions for research at UHN.
 
Everyone in research (researchers, clinicians, administrative staff, trainees, services staff) is encouraged to post questions (anonymously or not) and share ideas and aspirations for what UHN research can be. While responses to your questions will be provided by Dr. Brad Wouters (EVP Science and Research; in consultation with Research Institute Directors or others when appropriate), everyone is able to contribute to and expand the discussion.
 
You can view a recording of the Michener town hall by clicking here. A copy of the town hall slide deck is available for download here.
 
If you require further clarification about the 5% support service fee please contact a Research Financial Services (RFS) Senior Business Analyst at SupportServiceFee@uhnresearch.ca.
 
 
 
 
 

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Most Recent Conversations

Topic: Strategic Planning

Feb 28, 2018 3:54pm

Q: Could the eventual appointment of a new UHN CEO impact the new direction research is taking?

A: The new CEO will have a vision and plan for UHN and for research and I will work closely with her/him as we develop our new strategy. I am confident that our Board of Trustees will choose a strong leader and champion for Research and its position in our Purpose and Mission.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:54pm

Q: If we are not able to support the existing research enterprise, why are we recruiting new researchers?

A: Our overall research support continues to grow each year as a result of support from our Foundations and from the success of external funding by our researchers and clinicians. What is key, is for us to build a sustainable model for the enables us to fund the full costs of research. This fee is addressing that balance.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:53pm

Q: Should Research Solutions & Services (RSS) staff be worried about their jobs during this restructuring process?

A: No. The changes in structure are meant to streamline operations so we can work more efficiently with the corporate teams and within RSS.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:52pm

Q: Donations are often provided for a certain purpose. How will you ensure that the 5% fee is used for the intended purpose? For example if funds are donated for prostate cancer research, will the overhead be used to support prostate cancer research?

A: The support fee will be used to offset the costs of space and all of the RSS departments. All programs/areas utilize RSS departments including HR, finance, infrastructure, IT, commercialization, legal, grant administration, etc. The actual indirect costs average 30% and so the 5% fee represents only a small component of these actual costs.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:52pm

Q: Our REB and contracts process is so slow that we sometimes miss opportunities to participate in clinical trials. Our group has sometimes been passed over for consideration for some studies because of this. Are there any plans to improve these services?

A: Short answer is yes and we have already made some investments and changes in this area. As part of the strategic planning process we will be exploring ways in which to increase efficiency in all the Research Solutions & Services departments.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:52pm

Q: Balancing P&L budgets at the institute level may still end up subsidizing specific research pillars/disease groups at the cost of other pillars/disease groups? Shouldn’t each group consider the mix of basic and clinical to balance their budget?

A: This is part of the strategy for each Research Institute and this consideration will be made by the Research Director together with the Program Medical Directors. The P&L approach is meant to create a balanced sustainable budget to support research at each institute/site. It is meant to provide the institutes with the flexibility to invest in high priority areas, both basic and clinical, while maintaining financial stability.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:50pm

Q: The implementation of the 5% research support fee seems to be complicated and investigators/staff may require a lot of time to fully understand it. Are there any plans in place to help everyone understand how this will impact their labs?

RFS will provide each PI with a list of funds where the fee applies.

Researchers and staff are also welcome to ask questions about the fee by contacting a Research Financial Services (RFS) Senior Business Analyst at SupportServiceFee@uhnresearch.ca.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:50pm

Q: Will the 5% research support fee be applied to Mitacs grants as well? Will it only apply to the portion industry contributes?

A: We plan on implementing the fee on all sponsored research accounts that currently do not contribute to indirect costs; this includes Mitacs.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:48pm

Q: Is the 5% research support fee going to take care of our financial issues?

A: No. The fee will contribute to research costs and will be the first step in our long-term plan to build a financially stable research environment.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:48pm

Q: What is the effective date of the 5% research support fee?

A: The fee will be effective as of April 1, 2018. Our Research Financial Services team is managing this implementation into the SAP grant system to correctly identify and charge the relevant research accounts. We will provide further details through an institution wide-communication.

We are preparing a list of sponsors that will or will not be subject to the fee, and will communicate this list to everyone.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:48pm

Q: Is the 5% research support fee going to be on new funding or existing funding?

A: The fee is going to be implemented on new and existing account funds.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:47pm

Q: When will the P&L model begin? When will reports of each PI’s profit and loss become available to help with decision making to ensure that the budget is balanced?

A: This requires assessment, a project plan and implementation.  Many separate data components must  be integrated into the model and significant system changes may be required. This new model will be developed at an institute level and phased in over the next fiscal year, with reporting by PI’s to follow thereafter.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:47pm

Q: Will researchers need to have approval from foundations/funding agencies to budget for the 5% research support fee in advance?

A: The fee will be implemented as a charge or recovery on spending similar to other charges for services such as glass washing or IT. There is no need to obtain approval for the fee from foundations or funding agencies.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:46pm

Q: The indirect costs from CIHR and other salary awards is low compared to some institutions in the US. Are there any discussions on how this can be changed?

A: Canada is one of the only jurisdictions in the world that does not provide a significant level of funding for indirect costs. For example, CIHR costs bring in 17%, which only covers about half of the indirect costs. And even though we did very well in the last competition and brought in about $16M, each one of those dollars will bring in a research cost that is not covered by CIHR grants. One of the key recommendations from the recent science review (Naylor report) was to increase the amount of funding for indirect costs from 17% to 40%, which represents more closely the real cost of research. We are continuing to advocate through CAHO and HealthCareCAN for more federal support for indirect costs.

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:44pm

Q: What will be the institutes’ role and involvement in decision making, since those decisions will have an impact on their budgets?

A: Each of the institutes will be responsible for developing a balanced budget and for making their own decisions on the areas they want to prioritize and support. This will be done within the context of a UHN-wide research strategic plan and with the support of the foundations. Foundation contributions and support for indirect costs will ultimately determine the size and scope of each research institute.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:44pm

Q: Does the revenue generated from my grant’s indirect costs go back to the institute I’m in?

A: Previously,the revenue generated from research was pooled to support research activities across all the research institutes. Under the new financial structure, revenues from overhead will be used to cover indirect costs at the site or institute where they were generated.

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Topic: Operations

Feb 28, 2018 3:41pm

Q: Projects use services at different rates. Dry labs (eg, imaging labs) will end up supporting basic science labs with the 5% administrative fee. This does not seem fair.

A: The contributions towards overheads and the paying of indirect costs are very uneven across UHN. Some individuals bring in tremendous amounts of overhead while others—whose primary sources of revenue may be agencies that don’t provide overhead—pay much less. I think we have to consider the kind of research environment that we want at UHN and the importance and balance for all of these types of research. We also have to consider that there may be certain areas of high priority that bring in much less overhead coverage. We need to establish a balance across our institutes and ensure that there are opportunities for growth in these priority areas while maintaining financial stability. I think that the way to move forward is to look at our activities in aggregate and require that revenues from all activities pay for all the indirect costs. Many of the services supported by this fee are common to all activities including support for finance, compliance, risk, legal, IT, quality, integrity, infrastructure and others.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:40pm

Q: Is the 5% research support fee a one-time fee or annual fee? Is it just for new accounts or all existing accounts?

A: The fee will be implemented on new and existing accounts and will be charged throughout the year based on the rate of research spending.

 

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Topic: Finances

Feb 28, 2018 3:38pm

Q: How do we report the 5% research support fee to funding bodies which don’t provide overhead? The 5% fee will not be part of the contract.

Research Financial Services will remain responsible for reporting and will ensure that the administration fee, if applied, is compliant within funding body regulations. The finance team is in the process of determining what these requirements will be for each agency, and the fee will be rolled for each sponsor as this work is completed. Researchers will be contacted in advance if there are any new contractual requirements.

 

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