Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance

TO:           Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs

FROM:   Professor Paul Young, Vice-President, Research and Innovation

DATE:     17 October 2012

RE:           Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance

I am pleased to let you know that the University has approved a new position of Associate Vice-President for Research Oversight and Compliance.  I am also happy to inform you that Professor Lori Ferris, a Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and who currently serves as Associate Vice-Provost Health Sciences Policy and Strategy (Office of the Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions), has agreed to take up this position.

Professor Ferris joined the VPRI portfolio just over a year ago on a part-time basis as my Special Advisor on Research Ethics and Protections. She holds a PhD in psychology and two masters of laws degrees in alternative dispute resolution and administrative law. Professor Ferris currently chairs the Ethics and Policy Committee for the World Association of Medical Editors and in 2012 she became the association’s Vice-President, and Jan 1 2014 she will become its President.  Her research interests include medico-legal-policy, public health, women’s health and health services research, with over 100 publications mostly in these areas of interest.

In her role as Associate Vice-President, Professor Ferris will manage the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO) which comprises legal services, research ethics (human and animal), and research financial reporting and audit.  ROCO was formed in 2009 in response to escalating sponsor and regulatory requirements in research which place an increasingly heavy burden on research institutions as well as growing financial, legal and reputational risks.  ROCO was the first office of its kind in Canada and signaled important recognition of the need to achieve and sustain a level of distributed oversight and compliance consistent with U of T’s massive and highly decentralized research enterprise.

We have already benefitted from Lori’s work to help address our local institutional response to the international trend towards dramatic increases in allegations of research misconduct.  She has helped create institutional structures and processes to assist academic divisions to properly manage allegations, and will be involved in launching ongoing educational programs to increase awareness of research integrity.  I am grateful that she has agreed to extend her leadership in the VPRI in an expanded role.

Professor Ferris will take up the AVP position effective November 1st. on a part-time basis while she transitions out of her Associate Vice Provostial role, and  will start full time in my office Jan 2 2014.   Her office will be in McMurrich on the 2nd floor although she will continue to work closely with me in Simcoe Hall, as required, on allegations of research misconduct.  Please join me in congratulating Lori on this important appointment.