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Engaging in Research with the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

There are two distinct routes to engaging in research at the VA.

  1. Non-VA Funded Research: Externally funded projects (NIH, DoD, Private Sponsorship, Foundations) that require the use of Jesse Brown VA Medical Center resources (personnel, laboratory or office space, engaging VA patients).

  2. VA-Funded Research: Applying for and receiving congressionally appropriated funding directly through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Non-VA Funded Research

Jesse Brown VA is partnered with the Chicago Association for Research and Education in Science (CARES®), an Illinois-registered, non-profit, corporation, which administers all non-VA funded, VA-approved research and related medical and scientific education funding.

If your research involves using Jesse Brown VA facilities (hospital or laboratory) or staff, CARES should be contacted early in the proposal and budget development phase.

CARES serves as the institution of record for NIH, DoD, industry, foundation, and other externally funded research conducted at Jesse Brown.

For NIH, DoD, or other non-VA federally funded research, CARES can serve as the prime awardee and issues a subaward to Northwestern. This decision should typically be made based on where the preponderance of work will be conducted. If other factors are to be considered, approval would be required from the Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the VA.

For industry or foundation-funded research it is likely that each institution would need to develop separate agreements with the sponsor.

The strength of CARES lies in its ability to understand and quickly respond to the unique needs of the research community. CARES is especially useful to investigators in the hiring of clinical research coordinators, research assistants or other personnel, purchasing equipment or supplies and managing travel funds. CARES is not bound by VA regulations related to these activities.

CARES attempts to be as flexible and non-restrictive as possible, while meeting its obligations as a non-profit organization. The CARES Board of Directors consists of individuals with an extensive background in health care and research.

For more information on CARES please visit this website.

Please contact CARES early in the proposal development stage if using Jesse Brown VA facilities or personnel.

Lauren M. Rich

VA-Funded Research

VA Research is the only research program focused entirely on veterans’ needs. The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center maintains a strong, cooperative affiliation with the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and encourages collaboration on research that benefits veterans.

VA Research is intramural, meaning only VA employees can conduct research funded by the VA. In many instances, VA researchers collaborate with academic institutions. Affiliated faculty can apply for VA funding however if a project is funded, they would need to accept a 25 hour per week (5/8) VA appointment to receive the funding. 

This is an exceptional benefit to the academic community, because it provides access to an additional potential funding source; and to the VA, because it supports the direct needs of patients to develop discoveries and innovations directly in-step with keeping the Veteran at the center of health care from the very beginning.

More than 60 percent of VA researchers are also clinicians who provide direct patient care, which is important because it allows VA research to quickly move scientific discovery from the research setting to advancements in health care and to recruit the best and brightest healthcare professionals.

VA research must be conducted, principally, in a VA facility or VA-leased space. The PI (and Co-PI) must have designated research space within a VA facility or VA-leased space.

The Research Service Administrative Office supports the research team, facilities, and committees that oversee research activities and manages post-award activities for VA-funded grants.

VA Funding Opportunities

The VA’s Office of Research and Development in Washington, DC offers funding opportunities through the following mechanisms:

Access to these RFA opportunities is only available through the VA intranet using a VA computer.  RFAs are posted for Spring and Fall BLRD/CSRD submissions and Summer/Winter RRD/HSRD submissions.  Additional RFAs are added for special solicitations. Contact Karen Lenehan for the list of currently available RFAs.

VA Research Funding Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply for BLRD funding, non-clinician Northwestern faculty must apply for Non-Clinician Eligibility. Application information and template can be found here.

To accept VA funding, Northwestern faculty must agree to accept a VA paid appointment of at least 25 hours per week (5/8).

HSRD and RRD do not require a pre-eligibility application however if funding is awarded the investigator would need to accept a 25 hour per week (5/8) VA appointment.

For more information on VA funding please contact the Research Service Office:
Phone: 312-569-6343