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Research Information Systems Modernization Supporting the Future of Research at Penn

OVPR is leading a groundbreaking initiative to streamline information systems and business processes and provide an integrated platform to support cutting-edge research at Penn. There will be a town hall meeting in September when the academic year begins to share program progress. At a glance, the program includes:

PennERA NextGen: Definition Phase

The Office of Research Services (ORS) has started an initiative to ensure that the administrative systems that support the Penn research enterprise are optimized for business efficiency and minimize user burden. The result will be a single software solution that encompasses features of the current Research Inventory System and PennERA. This project is called PennERA NextGen.

Penn was an early adopter of electronic research administration and, as a result, the current PennERA application is highly customized.  Penn has also been proactive in creating system approaches for research support with tools such as the Research Inventory System, which was developed at a time when no commercial vendors were offering agreement management solutions. While PennERA and the Research Inventory System have functioned well, technological advances and increasing sophistication of electronic research administration tools in the market are available. Disruptive technologies like AI offer opportunities to create efficiency in our operations. PennERA NextGen will modernize electronic research administration at Penn to take advantage of these opportunities.

Penn thrives on collaboration and information exchange. In the coming weeks and months, the project team will be gathering information and reaching out to the community to solicit your support as subject matter experts, process reviewers, system testers, and more.

The PennERA NextGen team considers robustness, efficiency, quality, and integration as its core objectives. We look forward to realizing these ambitious goals and better enabling your research efforts.

Conflict of Interest (COI) and Extramural Reporting: Implementation Phase

Research, Interests, and Activities (RIA) has recently replaced the antiquated FIDES and PHS-FITS systems. RIA combines research disclosures with annual extramural reporting in a single system, significantly reducing administrative burden while ensuring research integrity. Integrations with PennERA, HSERA, and PCI’s Inteum system eliminate duplicate entries of the same data. This summer, Penn Dental Medicine and the Perelman School of Medicine are using RIA for the annual extramural reporting process.

The Redesign of the Human Subjects Enterprise Research Application (HSERA): Development Phase

The Human Research Protections Program (HRPP) is redesigning the HSERA system to offer researchers a modern, user-friendly, highly integrated tool for managing all Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions. The HRPP is consolidating the data management and submission systems into a single tool, thereby significantly reducing the number of process steps for users and improving overall efficiency. The new system will be able to automate tasks, including several types of administrative reviews and IRB assignment functions. Additionally, the scope of this effort includes the archival of old data and the cleansing of existing data. The new HRPP tool will fully integrate with RIA for a more transparent and efficient experience across collaborating offices. The tool is scheduled to launch in early 2025.

University Laboratory Animal Resources (ULAR) and Office of Animal Welfare (OAW): Discovery Phase

Over the past year, the project team completed a selection process for a software package to replace the information systems currently used by ULAR and OAW, including the ARIES, POLARIS, SHEPHERD, and ACCR systems.

The Penn team has recently selected a-tune’s tick@lab software suite (, which includes Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocol and animal operations functionality such as drafting and approving protocols, ordering and placing animals, and improving researcher access as part of the continuum of animal care and scientific support.

The project team is working collaboratively with a-tune to extend the core tick@lab software to include enhanced configurations to meet the research community’s needs, as well as a thorough review of existing business processes to identify potential efficiency gains. The project team is targeting late 2026 to launch this state-of-the-art system.

Read more about OVPR strategic initiatives here.