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About the Office of Research


To cultivate and support discovery, innovation, commercialization, and economic growth within the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the State of Tennessee, with the dedication to improve the health of Tennesseans, the nation, and the global community.


To become a world-class, interdisciplinary, and research-intensive health science center.


The Office of Research works to accelerate the growth of research in all UTHSC colleges and at all major locations. It promotes innovative research opportunities and provides state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet the needs of our researchers, positioning them to compete successfully for extramural funding.

The Office of Research manages nine institutionally supported and subsidized core facilities located on the UTHSC campus, including the Lab Animal Care Unit, the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, the Molecular Resource Center, the Molecular Bioinformatics Core, the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core, the Proteomics and Metabolomics Core, the Research Histology Core, the Medicinal Chemistry Core, and the Advanced Imaging Core. These core facilities serve investigators based at UTHSC, LeBonheur Children's Hospital, the Regional One Medical Center, and the University of Memphis (the greater Memphis area), as well as several external customers from around the U.S. and the world.

In keeping with its mission to move the university into the ranks of the top biomedical research institutions, the Office of Research oversees the development and implementation of UTHSC's comprehensive research strategy. The Office of Research reported annual grant and contract awards for FY23 totaled over $100 million. The faculty of all six colleges and four campuses broke records in a number of categories, including proposal count by fiscal year and quarter.

Our strong infrastructure allowed the UTHSC research enterprise to remain fully functional during the pandemic, despite the reduced campus presence. Increased staffing, improved resources, and new streamlined and automated processes allowed researchers to successfully adapt, and to advance their projects, despite the physical restrictions in place on all campuses. Specific examples include:

  • The unification of Sponsored Programs, which enabled UTHSC to handle a record number of grant and contract submissions, and complete a record number of proposed projects in FY22
  • New rapid review processes for proposals submitted to the Institutional Review Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
  • Enhanced communication of research resources and funding opportunities 
  • Writing assistance to improve the quality of scientific manuscripts and grant proposals, via the creation of the Office of Scientific Writing

Our growth has also fueled by a number of initiatives the Office of Research developed to encourage collaboration among researchers statewide, nationally and globally. Some examples of winning strategies are:

  • Creating fertile ground for large interdisciplinary grants by developing new research institutes and consortia, such as the Tennessee Population Health Consortium and the Institute for the Study of Host Pathogen Systems (ISHPS). The ISHPS alone received a multiyear national grant for nearly $23 million in 2017. In 2021, the Office of Research collaborated with the UT Research Foundation to secure approximately $1.2 million in funding to start the Tennessee Population Health Consortium.
  • Recruiting faculty to establish research institutes and centers. Colleen Jonsson, PhD, was hired in 2017 to direct UTHSC’s Regional Biocontainment Lab and subsequently created and directs ISHPS. Dr. Jonsson, an Endowed Van Vleet Chair of Excellence in Virology, also played a lead role in UTHSC’s response to the pandemic, converting the RBL to a COVID-19 research facility in early 2020. Her efforts over the last three years have been instrumental in helping UTHSC reach new heights in national recognition and funding, earning her a UT President’s Award in 2021. In 2017, Kenneth Ataga, PhD, an internationally recognized expert clinician and researcher in sickle cell disease, was recruited to direct the UTHSC Center for Sickle Cell Disease.
  • Providing new grant intramural support to investigators in need of gathering further data to strengthen resubmission of unfunded grants. 
May 30, 2024