PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For decades, researchers at Brown University and the Lifespan and Care New England health systems have envisioned a unified approach to conducting health and medical research that would streamline operations and strategically align the institutions’ research priorities. Now, with the signing of a new aligned research collaboration (ARC) agreement, the vision is one step closer to reality.
The three organizations came to the agreement guided by shared principles and goals. Chief among them is to build a more innovative and efficient approach to conducting research that could ultimately provide greater benefits to Rhode Island, the nation and the world. Currently, overcoming administrative boundaries of conducting research across the university and health systems can impede progress on important research, and the separation of the three entities can create obstacles to achieving the scale needed for major research grants and collaborations that could lead to breakthroughs.
Under the terms of the ARC, the health systems agreed to align their research operations with Brown’s Division of Biology and Medicine, which includes the Warren Alpert Medical School, and the Brown University School of Public Health in a unified enterprise that will leverage the distinctive strengths of each institution.
The agreement will help Brown, Lifespan and Care New England compete for larger funding opportunities by combining strengths in state-of-the-art research infrastructure, core facilities and specialized equipment. And that cooperative strength will provide new opportunities for clinical trials, allowing Rhode Islanders more access to cutting-edge therapies locally.
“For years, our medical school and public health faculty, many of whom are physician-scientists based in our affiliated hospitals, have said that having three distinct research operations creates undue administrative burden that can at times discourage collaboration that could lead to exciting new biomedical discoveries and benefits for communities,” said Brown University President Christina H. Paxson. “Coming together with Lifespan and Care New England on this shared vision marks a major step forward in enabling our world-class researchers to achieve even greater impact.”
The joint approach to research administration will be governed by a Joint Executive Council with representation from all three institutions led by the dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown. Financially, each institution will continue to support the research enterprise at existing funding levels, and Brown has committed to investing an additional $20 to $25 million once the agreement is fully operationalized.