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New management software bolsters research cores

Jan. 26, 2017, 8:43 AM

This month the Office of Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) began transitioning VUMC research cores, facilities and shared resources (known collectively as “cores”) to a new core management application that officials said will streamline ordering and billing for core services.

During the next few months VUMC cores and other research support services will move in groups from the current Core Ordering and Reporting Enterprise System (C.O.R.E.S.) to an application developed by Boston-based iLab Solutions, now part of Agilent Technologies. strategic-compass-confirm

Registration in the iLab system is required for all users of the VUMC cores, including principal investigators, lab members, departmental administrators and core management and staff, whether they work for VUMC or Vanderbilt University, said Susan Meyn, director of research resources and planning in the Office of Research.

Registration will enable users to place service requests, schedule instrument reservations, provide required approvals and monitor the progress of their projects, she said.

For the time being, University-based cores and facilities will continue to use C.O.R.E.S. while the University evaluates the iLab application, said Cathy Snyder, director of Contract and Grant Accounting in the University’s Division of Administration.

A list of VUMC cores, online user guides, registration instructions and launch schedule can be found on the Office of Research website.

VUMC core customers are invited to attend one of several scheduled iLab training sessions.
Additional sessions will be announced to users soon, said Jessie Pirtle, MBA, implementation team leader in the Office of Research.

iLab Walk-in Clinics will be held from 10-11 a.m. each Thursday in Medical Center North room D-2221. Questions also can be emailed to

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at VUMC and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, congratulated the Office of Research team and their iLab partners on the rollout of the new core management platform.

“So much of this effort was concurrent with our institutional reorganization, and the team has been extraordinarily nimble in adapting to maintain steady progress,” said Pietenpol, the B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and professor of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology and Otolaryngology.

“Our cores and shared resources are integral to Vanderbilt’s special culture of collaboration,” she added. “The new iLab system will play an important role in maintaining that culture and supporting our researchers in their pursuit of new discoveries.”

Meyn agreed. Just as C.O.R.E.S. “helped cement a sense of community around the core facilities, (the iLab system) will continue to be an important ‘connector’ for our faculty and researchers across the School of Medicine,” she said.

C.O.R.E.S. was developed at VUMC about 15 years ago by a team led by Keith Dance, MBA, former director of systems development in the Office of Research and now head of product management at iLab Solutions.

Within 10 years, C.O.R.E.S. and the rival iLab application had become the two most broadly-used systems for core facility management, serving more than 900 core facilities at more than 70 research institutions in seven countries.

In 2013, Vanderbilt signed a strategic multi-year partnership with iLab Solutions to develop a single standard for the research community, a unified platform that leveraged iLab’s core facility management suite and professional services team with Vanderbilt’s software engineering and academic perspective.

The partnership yielded improvements for iLab’s system, informed by the unique features and capabilities of C.O.R.E.S., which will benefit users at Vanderbilt and across the country, Meyn said.

Key features of the iLab application include robust workflow and cost center management capabilities, streamlined ordering and billing functions, and a portal that allows users to view the progress of their project requests and communicate directly with the cores.

“Jessie Pirtle has done a phenomenal job leading this implementation and preparing us to respond to user needs,” Meyn said.

To learn more about the Strategic Directions, go here.

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