The PROTECT (Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats) Superfund Research Center (SRC) includes four research projects, two research support cores and three required enrichment cores, one of which is the Administrative Core. The primary objective of the Administrative Core is to provide a formal structure for oversight, planning, coordination, and promotion of cross-disciplinary, multi-university interaction by projects and cores. The secondary, equally vital objective is the translation of research to stakeholders.
The specific aims of the Administrative Core are to (1) provide center direction and planning, (2) provide fiscal management and administrative services, (3) maintain active communication with NIEHS/SRP; (4) promote center activities and research results to all relevant stakeholders in scientific communities, government, and industry, and (5) develop investigator-initiated research translation activities for each project, including technology transfer and training on research translation. To accomplish these aims requires a sophisticated administrative structure, particularly for a geographically distributed, multi-university team. Substantial planning, organization, and effective communications tools promote active collaboration and coordination. To this end, the Administrative Core has developed a framework that links projects, cores, institutions and participants. This includes highly-qualified and experienced Center Directors who manage and guide PROTECT research, training and stakeholder engagement activities; an Executive Committee to manage, facilitate and monitor the technical quality of projects and cores; a Research Translation Coordinator to oversee research translation at the project and center levels, and a dedicated Administrative Staff who support PROTECT research and administrative activities using appropriate information technology, financial and reporting software and communications tools. To advise and guide the effort, an External Advisory Committee formed of four subcommittees focuses on important issues; the Scientific Advisory Committee assesses research merit, cross-disciplinary integration, translation and relevance; the Institutional Partnership Advisory Committee provides necessary institutional- level guidance and promotes long-range strategic goals; and Training, and Community Engagement Advisory Committees support their respective cores. Frequent, routine management and coordination/integration meetings are planned for optimal participation by PROTECT personnel and advisors. This effective strategy has been used since PROTECT was established in 2010, resulting in collaboration and integration across projects, cores and institutions, successful communication with advisory committees and external stakeholders, and timely, accurate financial tracking and progress reporting to NIEHS/SRP.
The Administrative Core provides a formal structure for oversight, planning, coordination, and promotion of cross-disciplinary interaction among all of the projects, cores, and participating institutions, as well as translation of research to stakeholders. The leadership and guidance provided by the Administrative Core is necessary to fulfill the ultimate goal of PROTECT: to understand the impact of environmental contamination on adverse pregnancy outcomes in Puerto Rico and beyond.
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