Regional e-Notes: January Letter from the Director
As the new year begins, we are in the process of wrapping up the CTSA FY17 development cycle and looking forward to the upcoming FY18 cycle. The annual development cycle begins with the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) setting priorities in the Spring, and ends with the Plan of Work approval by the CTSA Board and subsequently the USDA the following Spring.
As I have shared many times before, the cornerstone of CTSA and the Regional Aquaculture Center program is our industry-driven support for commercial aquaculture development. We are grateful to our IAC members for helping us identify both the broad and specific needs of the regional aquaculture industry, and then working with us to develop a Plan of Work that will most effectively address those needs.
Standard CTSA procedure is for the IAC to make funding recommendations to the Board based on the pre-proposals they discuss and rank during the IAC/TC meeting each summer. Some years, CTSA requests and receives more full proposals than we are able to fund. Other years, extenuating circumstances beyond our control (such as PI’s electing not submit full proposals or submitting proposals of poor quality) result in additional funding to allocate. When this happens, we go back to the IAC for additional discussion on the priority areas, including any urgent issues which may be addressed with the remaining funds. If there is an issue identified, CTSA releases an out-of-cycle call for proposals or letters of intent, which is then vetted in the same way as the other proposals received earlier in the cycle. Typically, urgent issues are very specific and require a narrow focus. Accordingly, only researchers with the necessary skills or on-going proven research activities in the subject matter respond to the call for proposals.
Due to limited capacity and the unique species we work with, there are sometimes only one or two research groups in the region capable of addressing a specific issue or priority area. While we do support the continued development of research capacity at various colleges and universities, our program does not favor any organization or research group over others; it is simply our task to look for the best and most efficient solutions to industry-identified problems.
With the FY18 cycle rapidly approaching, I encourage our stakeholders to consider which issues should be addressed in the next Plan of Work, and to share your thoughts with us and members of our IAC. I look forward to hearing your suggestions, and seeing the next round of proposed projects.
Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CTSA