Quick Guide to Research

The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research has overall responsibility for the University’s research enterprise. It oversees most of the operations described in this brochure and is responsible for establishing and maintaining University-wide policies relating to research. The Office also assists investigators seeking research funding, encourages interdisciplinary research, provides seed money for early-stage investigations, and generally helps provide the intellectual and physical environment to maintain a high quality of research and maximize productivity.
G. Michael Purdy, Executive Vice President for Research
Phone: (212) 854-1656

Sponsored Projects Administration is the University’s primary support office for sponsored research grants and contracts. SPA provides assistance in proposal review and submission, award acceptance, account setup, subcontract issuance, sponsor communications and non-financial award closeout. SPA is responsible for assuring compliance with regulatory and other requirements that govern the grant application process and for assisting with the non-financial requirements that govern awards. Each department is served by a dedicated project officer for the pre-award process and a financial analyst for account setups and other post-award matters. The SPA website contains a directory of these officers, and information about InfoEd (the grants management IT system) and other helpful topics.
CUMC: (212) 305-4191 / MS: (212) 854-6851

Sponsored Projects Finance is responsible for the financial administration and reporting of all sponsored research awards, and for ensuring compliance with the regulatory and other requirements that govern the financial management of those awards.
Phone: (212) 854-4684

Many of the University’s sponsored projects policies and procedures have been compiled in the Sponsored Projects Handbook, a searchable, web-based resource. Researchers are encouraged to review this resource.

If you plan to conduct research that involves human subjects, including behavioral research (e.g., surveys) and/or biomedical investigations, one of Columbia’s five Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) will help ensure that your study complies with all applicable ethical and regulatory requirements. The University’s IRBs are responsible for protecting human subjects in research and are made up of faculty and community members. The IRBs are administered centrally, with offices on the Morningside and CUMC campuses. All human subjects research conducted by Columbia faculty, staff and students must be approved by a Columbia IRB. The IRBs offer a number of education and training opportunities, including: IRB 101, a comprehensive introductory course that provides background on the regulations that govern human subjects research and offers tips on drafting consent forms and other IRB requirements; Monthly Investigator Meetings, at which research issues are discussed; annual educational conferences; and web-based training. The IRB websites contain useful links and information on education and training opportunities.
Medical Center: (212) 305-5883
Morningside: (212) 851-7040

Rascal is the University’s on-line research compliance system. Through Rascal, you can create and submit for regulatory approval most research protocols, draft consent forms, complete required and additional training, and submit your conflict of interest disclosures.
Helpdesk: (212) 851-0213
email: rascal@columbia.edu

The mission of the Clinical Trials Office is to facilitate and enhance the timely execution of quality clinical research at CUMC by providing support services to investigators in connection with federal and foundation grants, industry-supported clinical trials, and internally developed investigator-initiated trials. The CTO supports the effective, efficient and reliable evaluation of new pharmaceuticals and medical devices in collaboration with sponsored organizations. Services include: expediting study placement through trial feasibility analysis; facilitating IRB and other regulatory services; comprehensive study budget preparation and contract negotiation; assistance with recruitment efforts; and providing training initiatives to ensure expert study coordination. The CTO offers training and education designed to keep investigators and their research staffs abreast of current trends in the conduct of clinical trials with the goal of providing the relevant knowledge and skills that individuals need to conduct compliant and efficient clinical trials. The CTO website contains an on-line submission tool, a portal for viewing the progress of pre-award negotiations and post award receipts, and other useful links.
Phone: (212) 305-3360

The purpose of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is to enhance the educational and training experiences of the University’s postdoctoral appointees. It acts as an advocate for postdocs through the provision of administrative support and the development of communication among postdocs, faculty and administrators. OPA also serves as an information clearinghouse and works to promote consistency in all postdoc-related University policies. The OPA website contains valuable information on training and topics of interest to Columbia’s postdocs.
CUMC: (212) 305-4073 / MS: (212) 854-0462


If you plan to conduct animal-based research, your protocol must first be approved by the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee for your campus. Composed of scientists, non-scientists, veterinarians and community representatives, the IACUC reviews all animal research proposals to ensure the humane care and use of animals in all activities related to research, and to ensure compliance with all federal and state regulations. The IACUC also determines what training researchers must undergo before research involving animals can begin. There are separate committees for the Morningside and CUMC campuses, with one central administrative office. Animal protocols are prepared and administered online. All personnel listed on a protocol must complete an occupational health status review, species-specific training, and a certification course on compliance with regulations and the basic principles underlying the humane care and use of laboratory animals.
Phone: (212) 305-2404

If you plan to conduct research with animals, your animals must be ordered through, and managed and cared for by the Institute of Comparative Medicine. The mission of the ICM is to ensure the humane care of animals used in approved research and to support medical research teams working to develop treatments for life-threatening conditions. The ICM has certified veterinary specialists who direct the care and manage the health and welfare of research animals at Columbia. The ICM conducts a training program for veterinary specialists, as well as training courses in animal care and handling for research personnel.
Phone: (212) 305-3837

Environmental Health & Safety provides a broad range of services to promote the health and safety of all University personnel, the community, and the environment in which we live and work. Through cooperative relationships, EH&S actively engages the University community to ensure a safe work environment and compliance with University policies and applicable regulations. Personnel conducting laboratory research using potentially infectious materials, hazardous chemicals, recombinant DNA, and/or radioactive materials must attend the relevant EH&S sponsored safety training(s). Columbia’s Institutional Biosafety Committee must approve the use of recombinant DNA, and Columbia’s Radiation Safety Committee must approve the use of radioactive materials. The EH&S website contains laboratory safety information as well as safety training schedules. Refresher safety training is also available through Rascal.
CUMC: (212) 305-6780 / MS: (212) 854-8749

The Office of Research Compliance and Training helps ensure that Columbia faculty and staff are in compliance with the complex web of regulatory requirements that govern research. ORCT collaborates with other offices to foster an integrated research compliance program. ORCT administers the University’s Conflict of Interest review process for research, serves as a resource for international research compliance issues, and administers Columbia’s Standing Committee on the Conduct of Research, which addresses issues of research misconduct. ORCT works to integrate compliance education across the University, and to develop new educational programming that promotes understanding of compliance issues throughout the research enterprise. The ORCT website contains useful information about compliance topics, provides links to resources, and lists available trainings for researchers, postdocs and others involved in research.
Phone: (212) 854-4261

Columbia Technology Ventures  is the technology transfer office of Columbia University. Through technology transfer, Columbia inventions and innovations may be incorporated into products and services that directly benefit people across the globe.  The University itself also benefits, as technology transfer brings in licensing revenues, which are reinvested to enhance the quality and breadth of education and research at Columbia.  On average, our office triages more than 300 new invention disclosures, executes 40-50 license agreements, and helps launch 12-15 start-up companies each year.  We also manage more than 60 industry-sponsored research agreements and more than 1,300 material transfer and confidentiality agreements annually. For information on any of our services or to report a potential invention, please send an email to techventures@columbia.edu, or call our office at (212) 854-8444.  Additional information on Columbia Technology Ventures is available at www.techventures.columbia.edu.

The Office of Research Initiatives works across disciplines, schools and campuses to foster interdisciplinary research collaboration and supports efforts to secure funding for such collaborations. It identifies opportunities and strategies for enhancing Columbia’s research presence and its status as a prominent research institution. It also administers Columbia’s internal review and nomination processes for those funding opportunities that limit the number of proposals that any one institution is permitted to submit, and works to improve Columbia’s success rate in securing such awards.
Phone: (212) 854-7836