In mid July, the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) held a workshop to discuss strategies for maximizing core facility use and efficiency and to identify common problems encountered in managing facilities. Core facilities are centralized, shared resources, such as instrumentation and other technology, support for cellular, animal or human studies, and expert consultation, and in today’s challenging economy, core facilities can help extramural researchers achieve more through the cost-efficient sharing of expensive “core” resources–cutting edge tools that are otherwise difficult to find or afford.
The workshop, Efficient Management and Utilization of Core Facilities brought together more than 400 participants, including core administrators, government officials, researchers, and other stakeholders at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
Participants suggested that NIH and other federal agencies develop policies to 1) implement standards, 2) encourage development and sustainability through career training and planning grants, 3) fund both equipment and personnel in core grants, 4) promote full use of core facilities, 5) foster collaboration, and 6) provide incentives and assistance to help cores develop consistent management systems across facilities. They also discussed real challenges, such as how to optimize core facility use and how to make these facilities more accessible.