September 7, 2001

Environmental Health and Safety wins award for compliance Web site

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Participating in the project were: back row, left to right are Dennis Hall, Ph.D., Lee Limbird, Ph.D., Jerry Fife, Dr. Mark Magnuson, Tom Barnes, Dr. James Snell. Front row, left to right are Rick Stotler, Chanchai McDonald, Ph.D., Lou Ann Burnett, and Bob Wheaton. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Environmental Health and Safety wins award for compliance Web site

For the staff members of Vanderbilt University’s Environmental Health and Safety (VEHS) department, receiving attention for their innovative projects has become just another part of the job.

In addition to saving the University money and helping preserve the environment though its chemical redistribution program and new radiation safety projects, VEHS can now add winning a prestigious award to its list of accomplishments.

VEHS and the Vanderbilt Research Enterprise recently received an Award of Recognition from the National Safety Council for the creation of their Research Compliance Web site. Submitted by Robert F. Wheaton, M.P.H., director of Environmental Health and Safety, the entry, titled “Development of a Research Compliance Web Site,” won in the Unique and Innovative Program category of the Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Division.

“I am delighted that the Environmental Health and Safety department won an award for serving as the catalyst for a research compliance Web site, which links all who participate in our research community with a summary of their roles and responsibilities and with training that facilitates their efforts in fulfilling these responsibilities,” said Lee E. Limbird, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research.

According to the National Safety Council, the Unique and Innovative Program encourages creative problemsolving by rewarding new approaches to complex challenges. Entries are evaluated according to several criteria: identification of a problem, method of implementation, cost effectiveness, and applicability to other institutions.

Vanderbilt’s Research Compliance Web site was created to provide responsibility and training information to those departments and individuals whose research is funded by federal grant money. The Web site was designed to educate those researchers on how to comply with federal guidelines.

The need for such a tool originally arose in the summer of 2000 when administrators learned that the National Institutes of Health had chosen Vanderbilt as the location for a September 2000 Proactive Compliance Site Visit.

“These visits are conducted in order to assess how well institutions are complying with NIH guidelines,” Wheaton said. “One of the issues that the NIH was looking at is the training and education of principal investigators and those people who receive grants.”

As part of their visit, the NIH requested information on how Vanderbilt defined and communicated roles and responsibilities, as well as requirements and opportunities for training and education to its employees and students who participate in research.

Under the direction of Limbird and Dennis Hall, Ph.D., associate provost for Research, University Central, both Medical Center and University employees worked to compile information. However, in an attempt to concisely communicate that information, Chanchai Mcdonald, Ph.D., director of Educational Technology, Biomedical Research Education and Training, and Rick Stotler, manager of Research and Academic Systems Development, came up with the idea for a transinstitutional Web site.

Wheaton first realized that the Web site organized and displayed the training and responsibility information in a unique way when the NIH representatives complimented the project during the site visit. At the urging of his counterpart at the University of California San Francisco, where the Web site is being used as a model for a similar program, Wheaton entered the National Safety Council’s contest.

This summer, Wheaton traveled to Texas A&M University to accept the award on behalf of the Research Enterprise and VEHS.

Vanderbilt’s Research Compliance Web site may be accessed at