Core facilities play crucial roles in carrying out the academic research mission by making available to researchers advanced technologies, facilities, or expertise that are unfeasible for most investigators to obtain on their own. To facilitate translational science through support of core services, the University of California, Los Angeles Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UCLA CTSI) created a Core Voucher program. The underlying premise is that by actively promoting interplay between researchers and core facilities, a dynamic feedback loop could be established that could enhance both groups, the productivity of the former and the relevance of the latter. Our primary goal was to give translational investigators what they need to pursue their immediate projects at hand.
To implement this system across four noncontiguous campuses, open-source web-accessible software applications were created that were scalable and could efficiently administer investigator submissions and subsequent reviews in a multicampus fashion.
In the past five years, we have processed over 1400 applications submitted by over 750 individual faculty members across both clinical and nonclinical departments. In total, 1926 core requests were made in conjunction with 1467 submitted proposals. The top 10 most popular cores accounted for 50% of all requests, and the top half of the most popular cores accounted for 90% of all requests.
Tracking investigator demand provides a unique window into what are the high- and low-priority core services that best support translational research.