Overseeing research at the Health Sciences

The UNM Health Sciences Office of Research supports research conducted by our HSC investigators and partners, locally and globally. 

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center will work with community partners to help New Mexico make more progress in health and health equity than any other state.

Our mission is to provide an opportunity for all New Mexicans to obtain an excellent education in the health sciences. We will advance health sciences in the most important areas of human health with a focus on the priority health needs of our communities. As a majority-minority state, our mission will ensure that all New Mexicans have access to the highest-quality health care.

Our mission is guided by our values of:

  • Excellence in education, patient care and research
  • Respect and compassion for all people
  • Commitment to service, quality and safety
  • Integrity and accountability
  • Equity and social justice
  • Trust and advocacy
  1. Provide exceptional patient care, foster excellent education and conduct impactful research and community engagement.
  2. Act with respect and show compassion for all.
  3. Provide safe, high quality, accessible service in all missions.
  4. Ensure a high performing organization guided by integrity, transparency, accountability and financial stewardship.
  5. Improve health, research and education outcomes for our diverse communities, internally and externally.
  6. Promote open communication, trust, inclusion and advocacy.

The Research Strategic Planning Committee was founded in 2005 by the Dean of the School of Medicine at the UNM Health Sciences Center and was later broadened to include the entire Health Sciences Center by the Executive Vice President of Health Sciences in 2007.  The RSPC informs and advises the Vice Chancellor for Research and Chancellor on issues related to the research enterprise at the UNM HSC.  The Committee’s oversight activities concerning Health Sciences Center activities will both inform decision-making and ensure internal coordination. The RSPC will provide leadership in the establishment of UNM HSC’s research’s strategic plan and policy guidelines.  Broad-based consultation should underpin these efforts.

Consonant with its responsibilities, the following specific duties are expected of the Committee:

  • Provide input to a strategic vision for the HSC research enterprise that supports the overall UNM HSC’s strategic vision.
  • Provide an official voice on overall HSC research policies and processes.
  • Provide expertise and input on technology as well as an operational perspective including implementation of research equipment and infrastructure.
  • Identify technical operational and research ramifications and undertake risk benefit analysis of broad based issues that may affect the HSC research enterprise.
  • Make formal recommendations on technical and operational issues related to the research enterprise to the Chancellor of Health Sciences and Vice Chancellor for Research. 

In pursuing these duties, the Committee must ensure that its actions support and are consistent with academic-based decision-making and joint governance as these concepts have evolved at UNM HSC. In this regard, the Committee will create an environment conducive to broad-based consultation among UNM HSC’s faculty, administrative leadership, academic leadership, clinical services leadership, students, and staff. All RSPC reports should be directed to the Chancellor of Health Sciences and Vice Chancellor for Research. At the end of each academic year, the Committee will prepare and submit a report summarizing its activities and actions during the course of the year.

Membership in the RSPC mirrors the UNM HSC administrative organization chart, with additions to reflect specific ex officio roles. The departmental chair or vice-chair of each School of Medicine department with significant extramural funding, two members of the College of Pharmacy, a member of the College of Nursing, the leader of each signature program and a member of the HSC faculty council will be members. Members from the College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing will be identified by the deans of those schools. The HSC council member will be identified by the HSC Faculty Council resident. Members are either ex officio or three year terms.

The committee will be chaired by HSC VCR and composed of departmental chairs of departments with significant extramural funding and leaders of each signature program, two members of the College of Pharmacy, a member of the College of Nursing, the leader of each signature program and a member of the HSC faculty council.

 The chair:

  • Represents the RSPC by attending meetings and using the RSPC’s vote to represent the views of the RSPC membership;
  • Convenes regular meetings and works with all members to identify key agenda items; and
  • Ensures significant issues are documented and discussed between RSPC meetings, and approves final meeting notes.
  • Reports regularly and makes recommendations to the Chancellor of Health Sciences and other groups as applicable.

The RSPC members primarily meet through the group’s twice per month meetings. The Chair will request input for agenda items prior to each meeting, from the RSPC membership and by request for recommendations. Meeting notes will be published subsequently.

On behalf of the membership, the Chair may invite other appropriate individuals to participate in specific projects or agenda items.

At their discretion, the Chair and Vice-Chair may decide to conduct an endorsement vote online. Members will receive electronic notice of the vote with the subject line "ACTION NEEDED: ____" and have 1 week to respond. One of the voting options will include a request to bring the item to a future meeting for further discussion.

 A quorum is considered to be one more than half of the number of voting members.

 If a quorum is reached, then the result of the vote will be announced at the next meeting. If a quorum is not reached, the matter will be brought up at the beginning of the very next meeting for an expeditious vote.

Bringing together scholars with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise creates unexpected opportunities to rethink how we identify and address critical research subjects.

Richard Larson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice Chancellor Vice Chancellor for Research

Research cores provide shared equipment and expertise that all in the campus community can utilize. UNM Health Sciences Center has developed 14 shared core facilities to support faculty research. Each have business plans and billing operations that allow them to operate on a pay-for-service basis, which requires minimal or no institutional support. Faculty are required to pay for the cores’ services. Internal pilot funds or extramural grants may be used as the source for those funds. 

These cores have been instrumental in building the UNM HSC research mission and have assisted Main Campus as well. In 2016, these cores were utilized by more than two dozen faculty members from Main Campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering. They include:

  • Analytical and Translational Genomics Shared Resource
  • Animal Resource Facility
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Biostatistics Support
  • BRaIN Imaging Center
  • Community Engaged Research Core
  • Clinical Research Unit
  • Community Health Network for recruiting participants
  • Drug Rescue, Repurposing and Repositioning Network
  • Flow Cytometry and High Throughput Screening Resource
  • Fluorescence Microscopy Shared Resource
  • Human Tissue Repository and Tissue Analysis Shared Resource
  • Regulatory Support
  • Translational Laboratory, including clinical testing of human samples

View complete listing


Joint UNM HSC-Main Campus Research Centers

There are currently three extramurally funded centers that involve both UNM HSC and Main Campus faculty and students. These large, multi-faculty and interdisciplinary grant-funded centers provide many University-wide opportunities:

Center for Brain Recovery and Repair

This NIGMS-funded P20 center (CoBRE) award under Bill Shuttleworth, PhD, supports two faculty members and one student in the Department of Psychology as well as departments within the HSC. The center provided salary support and support for a graduate research assistant for the recruitment of a new faculty member in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. The previous CoBRE under Jim Liu, PhD, provided significant pilot funds for Department of Psychology investigators using resources available at the HSC and offered service and consultation to Department of Biology faculty wishing to make use of the animal MRI.

New Mexico Alcohol Research Center

Funded by NIAAA, this P50 center helmed by Daniel Savage, PhD, involves faculty and students from UNM’s Main Campus. The Department of Psychology is represented on the executive committee, and two additional faculty members have received pilot awards from the center.

Center for Native American Environmental Health Equity Research

Johnnye Lewis, PhD, leads this P50 center addressing environmental health disparities affecting Native Americans. The program supports a faculty member and postdoctoral research fellow in Civil Engineering, and it benefits from the analytical chemistry facility on UNM’s Main Campus.

Additional Centers

Furthermore, there are several service-oriented centers that also contribute to the education and research missions and are joint endeavors of UNM HSC and Main Campus. These include the Institute for Resilience, Health and Justice; the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions; and the New Mexico Center for Health Care Workforce Analysis.

New Research Initiatives

Recently, UNM HSC and Main Campus initiated planning for a new joint center: the Center for Gerontology. This center will bring together faculty from the clinical service, Department of Neurosciences, and the Occupational and Physical Therapy Programs at UNM HSC and the Departments of Speech and Hearing Sciences and Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences on Main Campus to work together toward better health for New Mexico’s aging population.

Initiatives in other areas are also being planned or are in the process of obtaining funding. Some of these are:

  • A pending P42 superfund research center will work with Native American communities to understand the environmental and health effects of abandoned uranium mine waste sites. More than 10 Main Campus faculty and students in the Departments of Civil Engineering, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Mathematics and Statistics, as well as an analytical chemist will work alongside UNM HSC researchers in this effort.
  • A pending application for the PARAD-IGM study of resilience – youths’ ability to recover from adverse experiences in order to reach their full potential – includes co-investigators from the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and the Department of Psychology.
  • A pending application, “SNAP-25 in Network Mechanisms of Adult Neurogenesis,” will support a Department of Psychology investigator as co-investigator.


UNM HSC and Main Campus faculty collaborate often to train the next generation of researchers.

Graduate and undergraduate students from Main Campus departments find PhD committee members, mentors and financial support as paid research assistants at UNM HSC.

UNM HSC faculty in the Institute for Resilience, Health and Justice have participated in multiple cross-campus panels and symposia on the topic of adverse childhood experiences and the justice system.

Numerous UNM HSC faculty are proud to provide mentoring and/or stipend support to undergraduate researchers through programs such as UPN and PREP. In addition, UNM HSC contributes to the Main Campus STEM-H program to encourage medical sciences and research careers.

Collaborative Committees

Finally, UNM HSC and Main Campus faculty work together on many cross-campus committees whose work furthers the university’s mission as one campus. These have included faculty search committees, oversight committees, and more.

Joint Planning Activities

The UNM HSC Signature Programs have provided a productive platform for joint planning on scientific collaborations. Each of the six signature programs – Brain and Behavioral Illness, Cancer, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Child Health, Environmental Health Sciences, and Infectious Diseases and Immunity – hold annual retreats that include faculty from Main Campus, including more than 100 that participated in these activities in the last year.

In addition, the UNM HSC Vice Chancellor for Research, Dean of the School of Engineering and their research faculty hold monthly collaboration meetings. These meetings have led to the creation and funding of an appreciable number of joint education and research initiatives, typically numbering five to ten active collaborative projects in any calendar year.

One of the most productive of these joint initiatives between the School of Engineering and the Health Sciences Center has been the Biodesign Program. Through this program, School of Engineering and HSC faculty work together with students from both Main Campus and North Campus in a one-semester biodesign course. Offered every Fall semester, the course engages students to create technological solutions to problems in healthcare delivery and ultimately presenting their ideas for funding through the Clinical and Translational Science Center's pilot grant program. The winning team or teams continue to develop their devices using these funds during the Spring semester and beyond.

Coordination of Limited Competition Extramural Awards

The UNM HSC and Main Campus Offices of Research coordinate their selection process for extramural grants in which only one can be submitted from the university as a whole, termed limited competition awards. This activity leads to the selection of dozens of extramural grant submissions per year that jointly include Main Campus and HSC faculty.

Joint Extramural Funding Initiatives

UNM HSC has invited and robustly collaborated with Main Campus faculty in order to help build the research mission campus-wide. In 2016 there were 23 grants led by UNM HSC faculty that include 39 faculty members from Main Campus. These grant awards totaled $18.6 million.

In addition, there are Main Campus-led initiatives in which UNM HSC faculty members are involved; when we obtain this data, we will post it here.

Some examples of this type of collaboration are as follows:

  • A Department of Neurosciences T32 grant supports multiple students in the Department of Psychology.
  • A subaward from a collaborative UH2 grant supports a UNM HSC and a Main Campus faculty member, as well as a Main Campus graduate research assistant.
  • In collaboration with the New Mexico Sentencing Commission (Institute for Social Research, Department of Sociology), UNM Main Campus and HSC researchers produced an informative report, “Adverse Childhood Experiences in the New Mexico Juvenile Justice Population."[PDF]

In all, UNM HSC faculty describe with pleasure their many current and past collaborative efforts with Main Campus faculty. These cooperative efforts have, and continue to, link UNM HSC investigators with faculty in the Departments of Physics, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Psychology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Earth and Planetary Sciences, as well as the Center for Stable Isotopes.