Important Message from National Institutes of Health Leadership

Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to bring to your attention a matter of great importance for the biomedical research community.  As leaders of institutions that are currently receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, we are asking for your assistance in combatting a serious problem in our workforce that threatens the health of our enterprise.  Late last month, NIH leadership released an important statement outlining actions NIH is taking to become part of the solution to address sexual harassment in science.  This statement was intended to send a clear message to the institutions we are funding and researchers who lead the research that sexual harassment is simply unacceptable.  NIH has not and will not just look the other way when accusations come to our attention.  We are now sending you this letter to ask our grantee institutions to intensify your own efforts in partnering with us to address this serious problem.

We recognize sexual harassment is about power.  The goal of the perpetrator, most commonly but not exclusively a man, is to objectify, exclude, demoralize, diminish, and coerce the victim, most commonly a woman, to exert power over her.  It’s morally indefensible, it’s unacceptable, and it presents a major obstacle that is keeping women from achieving their rightful place in science.

The 2018 National Academies report on sexual harassment of women in science shined a troubling light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in medicine and biomedical science.  The report also stated that “federal agencies may be perpetuating the problem of sexual harassment.”  In recognition of this, NIH is committed to becoming part of the solution and taking appropriate action toward ensuring a safe working environment conducive to high-quality research.  We have recently established a Working Group of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), which is charged with tackling the underlying culture that enables sexual harassment and anticipates swiftly assisting the ACD to develop recommendations to that end.

But NIH cannot tackle this problem alone.  Through this letter, NIH is clarifying expectations that institutions and investigators ensure a safe workplace and keep the agency well-informed.  We expect that institutions will embrace their responsibilities to end all harassment in their own scientific workplace.  To this end, we are reminding you that:

  • If a principal investigator or other key personnel named on an NIH grant award is no longer able to fulfill their obligations to conduct research because they have been removed from the workplace because of sexual harassment concerns, NIH requires institutions to notify the agency of this change.
  • NIH expects all NIH-funded institutions to have disseminated and implemented policies and practices that:
    • foster a harassment-free environment;
    • maintain clear, unambiguous professional codes of conduct;
    • ensure employees are fully aware and regularly reminded of applicable laws, regulations, policies, and codes of conduct;
    • provide an accessible, effective, and easy process to report sexual harassment, and protection from retaliation; and
    • respond promptly to allegations to ensure the immediate safety for all involved, investigate the allegations, and take appropriate sanctions.
  • We can and will take action if there are concerns that sexual harassment is affecting NIH-funded research.  For concerns related to NIH-funded research, an email can be sent to  We are working to create additional channels intended for confidential sharing of such information and hope to make those available in the next several weeks.
  • While communication to NIH, including through the email address above, does not constitute or substitute for a report of sexual harassment for legal action or investigation, the NIH Office of Extramural Research will follow up with the relevant applicant/grantee institution on all concerns related to NIH-funded research.
  • NIH appreciates your support in strongly encouraging people to report allegations of sexual harassment or assault to the appropriate authorities, which may include your local police department or your organization/institution equal employment opportunity or human resources offices.  We have reminded the extramural community of that and emphasized that individuals may contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights to obtain additional information and file a complaint.  Please see NIH’s Anti-Sexual Harassment website for more information and resources.

We thank you for your support in our efforts to assure that all NIH-funded work occurs in an environment that is safe, that is free from harassment, and that is conducive to our critically important efforts to conduct high-quality research.


Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, NIH

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director, NIH

Carrie Wolinetz, Ph.D., Acting Chief of Staff, and Director, Office of Science Policy, NIH

Michael S. Lauer, M.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH

Hannah A. Valantine, M.D., Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, NIH


We’re Here to Help: Arminta Brown

Portrait of Arminta Brown

My Focus:

As a Senior Post-Award Administrator my focus is customer service.  I accomplish this by establishing and maintaining good relationships with all stakeholders.  I set realistic expectations to give them assurances that their needs are heard and will be met timely.  Always asking for their input maximizes successful outcomes to reflect the highest professionalism of our department.

Where did I come from

I received my BSBA degree in Accounting from Rockhurst University.  My introduction to grant awards came when I worked as the Grants Accountant at the Kansas City Area Transit Authority. From that position I was promoted to General Accounting Supervisor. I spent thirteen years with KCATA.  From there I spent four years in corporate America at Great Plains Energy or what’s better known to the public as KCPL.  I was their Generation Accountant and Delivery Accountant.  I came to the University in September 2005 with ATTC.   It was in February 2006 that I began my journey in Research Administration at the Office of Sponsored Programs.

What I love about working in Research Administration

From my heavy accounting background, I love the versatility.  Research Administration is ever changing. Whether I’m working on federal awards, or with public/ private corporations, not for profits, or various universities, domestic or foreign institutions; I’m continuing to learn and grow professionally. Those transitional skills that I’ve gleaned from my prior work experiences mesh perfectly with Research Administration.  Instead of the monthly accounting cycle or as I call it “the accounting groundhog days”, I’m challenged daily in the areas of compliance, contract terms, proper internal controls and subcontract agreements.  Work life is never dull.

Some of my favorite things

I value my relationships with family and friends.  I enjoy entertaining and cooking.  I consider myself a novice foodie.  I enjoy exercise and maintaining a healthy life balance.  No, I’m not a fanatic – just working to stay young at heart and in body. I’m fascinated by what our city has to offer – theater, movies, restaurants and music. Lately, I’m obsessed about learning to paint and crafts.   Loud cheers can be heard from my home all year long because I love sports.  I’m a big baseball, college basketball and football fan.

The Ride of My Life

Since July of 2012, I have served UMKC as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development.  To say that this has been a fulfilling time in my career at UMKC would be a gross understatement!  These past 6-years have been the most privileged of my 28 years at UMKC and of my entire career as a university faculty member/administrator.  As an administrator, there is no greater fulfillment than to see those you serve be successful in their endeavors.  As a Chief Research Officer that means, assisting faculty with their research, grant applications and awards, assisting deans to advance their unit research initiatives, and promoting UMKC within the UM System, the region and at the national level.

Over the course of the last few years there are a number of accomplishments that I can take pride in, but one that stands out for me is the creation of Explore, the UMKC Research magazine.  Until 6 years ago we had no publication that spotlighted research at UMKC.  Perhaps this was emblematic of a past UMKC; we simply didn’t voice our story loud, and often, enough.  When volume 1 of Explore came out in print, I hoped that we would have enough great stories to sustain the expectations created by such an outstanding effort.  Five volumes later, and a 6th in the works, and we are still spotlighting world-class faculty scholars and the pipeline continues to grow.   This fact,along with a rejuvenated effort to invest in research bodes well for the future of research at UMKC.

As for me, I won’t be riding off into the sunset just yet!  My new role as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Research Support will leverage my years of research experience and administration in promoting faculty research success, primarily for junior and newly hired faculty members. This will include, but not be limited to, assisting faculty members in navigating the extramural application process, developing proposal writing skills, expanding networks for collaborations, and mentoring them in research and career development activities.  In a sense, the totality of my career has prepared me for this position and I look forward to the new challenge that lies ahead.

As I transition into my new role, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work performed by the staff of the Office of Research Services, Research Compliance, and Technology Commercialization.  Those of you who work regularly with the ORS know what I am talking about!

To my Colleagues at the Office of Research Services: It has been my sincere honor and privilege to have worked closely with all of you. Your dedication, professionalism, hard work, and “can do” spirit inspires me to be better at all that I do!  


Mark Your Calendar

1Data Conference

1Data is the result of a unique partnership formed between Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which leverages the strengths of our region to develop a platform to share human and animal health research data.

This one-day conference focuses on a One Health approach to data sharing and brings together professionals from animal, human, and environmental health sectors to explore the ways in which data can be jointly used for mutually beneficial purposes, such as accelerating drug development, enhancing regulatory processes and decreasing animal testing. The speakers will discuss the 1Data platform for data sharing, local efforts for improving human and animal health using analytical tools and how collaboration can promote change resulting in enhancing the lives of both humans and animals.

8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. | Feb. 7 | K-State Olathe campus

Register at:

Key 2019 BioNexusKC Conference Dates

Mark your calendars for the new year. Here’s the full list, but here are a few that might be of interest:

  • Collaborate2Cure (monthly): Jan. 14, Kauffman Foundation
  • Midwest Bioinformatics Conference: April 11-12, UMKC
  • One Health Research Symposium: Aug. 25-26, Kansas City Convention Center

2018-2019 Funding For Excellence Faculty Research Awards Announced!

The fourth year of Funding For Excellence Faculty awards program attracted 25 applications, representing a diverse segment of research and scholarly activity from across the University. The applications were reviewed by members of the UMKC Research Advisory Council and 9 applications were awarded totaling $109,312. 

The funded applications for the 2018-19 are:

Child Obesity and Health Messaging Preferences among Missouri Policymakers: The CHAMP Study “, Matthew Chrisman, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies

“A Complete Record of Magma Storage and Eruption over the Last 70,000 Years at Askja Volcano, Iceland “, Alison Graettinger, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences

“How Leadership Gender Affects Far Right Party Evaluations and Reaction to Scandal”, Debra Leiter, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences

“Post-translational Regulation of the SAGA Chromatin Modifying Complex”, Ryan Mohan, Assistant Professor, Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, School of Biological Sciences

“Magazine Mavericks: Marital Collaborations and the Invention of New Reading Audiences in Mid-Victorian England”, Jennifer Phegley, Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, College of Arts and Sciences

“Early Detection of Fake News on Twitter”, Praveen Rao, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, School of Computing and Engineering

“Enhanced Energy Transfer/Storage of Solar Thermal Collector “, Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, School of Computing and Engineering

“Assessment of Climatic Impacts of Urbanization in Kansas City Metropolitan Area and the Potential for Cool Roofs to Counter Future Climate Change”, Fengpeng Sun, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences

“Mitigating Barriers to PTSD Treatment Using Home-Based Telehealth”, Joah Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

The Funding for Excellence Program is an institutionally funded grants program to support the highest level of research, scholarship,and artistic endeavors by UMKC faculty. The three goals of the FFE program are to:

  • Enhance the research stature and scholarly reputation of UMKC;
  • Support excellence in the scholarship, research,and creative endeavors of tenured and tenure-track faculty members of all ranks; and,
  • Provide a financial means to achieve a tangible result.

We’re Here to Help: Leslie Burgess


Program/Project Support Coordinator

My focus

Support is the key word in both my title and in describing my role in the Office of Research Services.  Serving initially in the department as the executive assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research, my position has grown to encompass a variety of areas in need, such as marketing/communications projects like our quarterly research newsletter, our Annual Report, Explore, and various research symposia. In support of UMKC’s new strategic plan goal to significantly increase the number of research grant proposals, I will begin training in Pre-Award services, which assists faculty in finding and applying for funding opportunities.

Where I came from

I have lived in the Kansas City area my whole life, and have worked in academia since graduating from UMKC, first with a BA in Psychology followed later by a MA in Higher Education Administration. My first position at UMKC was in the Counseling and Testing Center as an assistant and test proctor. I then accepted a position at the Kansas City Art Institute where I enjoyed serving as a campus coordinator until graduate school called me back to UMKC to further my educational goals.  I was a Graduate Research Assistant for the International Academic Office during that time and loved helping students study abroad. I joined the Office of Research team shortly after graduating in 2013.

What I love about working in Research Administration

The focus of my undergraduate degree was research and analysis in Psychology and this has been the first position I’ve had that taps into that interest.  I’ve been grateful for an inside view of the amazing research projects being conducted by our faculty.Overall, I love being a part of the ORS team and working with a wonderful group of dedicated, supportive colleagues.

Some favorite things

My husband and I enjoy taking our 3 year old daughter on adventures around the city, from weekend trips for produce at the River Market to rides on the KC streetcar. There are always new art openings to check out and restaurants to try.  Although the winters can be challenging, Midwest seasons are in my blood and I look forward to the warmer months where we venture out to hike, boat, camp, and grill. During downtime I catch up on reading for the book club I host.