Research compliance officer search near completion, position vital to university

From animal and human subject regulations to the treatment of toxic substances, there are numerous federal and state regulations with which researchers at Central Michigan University must comply.

With the search for a research compliance officer nearing completion, adhering to the rules might be a little easier.

Mary Montoye, director of research and chairwoman of the search committee, said this position is vital as CMU's presence in the research world grows.

"As the university endeavors to increase external funding, as an institution, we have more compliance issues that we need to make sure that we have taken care of," she said. "The other thing we see happening is compliance on federally funded projects continues to increase, so having an RCO position will give us some of the staffing we need to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to make sure that we are in compliance with the variety of regulations that we need to follow."

According to the job description, posted on Nov. 3, the RCO will be responsible for monitoring and facilitating compliance with federally mandated regulations  involving animal care and human subjects. The will coordinate with university compliance committees and develop policies and procedures related to university compliance with federal and state regulations affecting university research.

John McGrath, vice president for research at CMU, has been fulfilling the duties of the RCO as the university looks for a replacement.

"I am very much looking forward to having this person join us, because prior to hiring this person, this was part of my duties," he said. "I’m very pleased to see that the university is moving forward with growing our research and scholarly activities and providing resources for this type of position. I look forward to adding this person to the team."

McGrath said most universities have an RCO, although he doesn't recall CMU ever successfully filling the position.

"I’ve been here a year and a half, and to my knowledge, this position has not existed at CMU in the past," he said. "It is also my understanding that my predecessors have had open searches to fill this position, but those searches didn’t end successfully."

The search cost the university $4,000, most of which went toward advertising the position and conducting on-campus interviews with candidates.

The RCO will report directly to McGrath while working with researchers across campus to ensure all rules and regulations are being followed.

McGrath said this position is vital to the university.

"We do this to protect students, staff and the community," he said. "We need to be doing this so that we have proper management. The fact that now we fully anticipate having this position filled and this person here means that this person will work full-time to watch over all of this. CMU will be better off for this."

Montoye said in order for this position to be utilized correctly, experience was key in picking candidates.

"We were certainly looking for an individual who had previous experience in dealing with research compliance and protocol. We wanted somebody familiar with the federal regulations that govern the research our faculty do," she said. "We were also looking for somebody who we thought would be a good advocate and work with the faculty and administration to make sure that not only are we compliant, but the processes we use are efficient so that the faculty can do what they need to do."

Montoye said the RCO is expected to actively engage with faculty members.

"I don't see this person as somebody in their office," she said. "I think they will be actively engaged, talking to faculty about their research and any issues they might be having with compliance."

Although it is unknown exactly when an RCO will be chosen, McGrath has confidence that it will be soon.


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