Brown, Care New England, and Lifespan seek to serve as catalysts for innovative biomedical and health sciences, helping Rhode Islanders access cutting-edge therapies more quickly and easily, and bolstering the state economy and Rhode Island’s ability to secure funds for large scale research programs. Intended to spur research with high potential to translate into new patient therapies and interventions, Brown, Care New England, and Lifespan plan to streamline their research operations, invest in a research development and growth strategy, further develop their workforce, and strengthen connections between the basic sciences and clinical research. The path to implementing this initiative will be overseen by a Joint Executive Council (JEC) comprised of the health system CEOs and the deans of the Division of Biology and Medicine and the School of Public Health at Brown University.
Brown, Care New England, and Lifespan executed the Aligned Research Collaboration Agreement (“the Agreement”) in November of 2022. The Agreement outlines a phased alignment of the organizations’ biomedical and health sciences research activities, including research infrastructure support capabilities, in an effort to support research growth and innovation. The organizations aim to improve the researcher experience, attract patients and recruit and retain diverse, top-class faculty and staff, reduce administrative burden, and address barriers to growth. These research activities will be organized within the Brown Innovation and Research Collaborative for Health (BIRCH) that is supported by the three organizations. Through the Agreement, the organizations committed to a process to develop financial and operational components required to establish BIRCH.
The Agreement sets forth five key steps:
- Recruit a Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO);
- Develop a financial model for the Center with input from a Finance Committee;
- Develop an operational plan to align research activities with input from a Research Operations and Policy Committee and a Clinical Research Committee;
- Establish a Research Advisory Council;
- Finalize a Joint Research Strategic Plan that outlines the organizations’ vision and guiding principles for the Center.
Key stakeholders from all three organizations convened on February 2, 2023, to discuss the vision for the new Center and the creation of a roadmap to bring it to fruition.
Immediate next steps include:
- Draft the Joint Research Strategic Plan;
- Determine committee leadership;
- Initiate planning work for the Finance Committee, the Research Operations and Policy Committee, the Clinical Research Committee, and the Research Advisory Council; and,
- Plan a working retreat for March 3.
At the next retreat, larger groups will discuss how to align operations in five key areas: Institutional Review Board; Research Compliance and Integrity; Research Information Technology; Research Support Infrastructure (including grants and contracts, innovation/commercialization support, and clinical research support); and Inter-party Contracting. The Research Advisory Council will undertake initiatives in Community Engagement and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and integrate these initiatives into the work of the committees and councils.
The implementation phase of BIRCH will begin once the financial model, operational plan, and Joint Research Strategic Plan are finalized and approved by the JEC.