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Electronic Research Administration

PennERA: Moving Toward Implementation of Phase I

Three components of the PennERA system (SPIN Plus, Protocol Tracking, and Proposal Tracking) will be released this spring as part of the first phase of the PennERA project. PennERA (Electronic Research Administration) was conceived and organized as a multi-stage project with new and improved systems and processes being implemented at phased intervals. These components will provide a solid foundation for the more extensive protocol and proposal development modules to come in later phases.

SPIN Plus, a funding opportunities application, will be available to the entire Penn community in spring 2003. A valid PennKey and password and a standard web browser are all that will be required to access this application. This application is currently available from a link on the Vice Provost for Research's web site; however, as part of PennERA this application will be migrated to an onsite server accessible via PennNet to facilitate future integration with the proposal preparation process.

Protocol Tracking and Proposal Tracking, also scheduled for release in spring 2003, will only be accessible to the Office of Research Services (ORS), the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), and other central offices that are currently processing protocol and proposal information.

When the new applications are released, complementary changes will be made to BEN Reports, GRAM, and the Account Information Sheet (AIS) form. The changes to BEN Reports will be to the protocol information being displayed in BEN Reports only. We do not anticipate any changes to grant financial reports at this time. The current AIS form will be redesigned to reflect the newly automated account setup process. Prior to implementation, we are migrating to a more universal sponsor code numbering system and working toward a single point of entry of sponsor information to ensure more integrated access to sponsor data.

To ensure successful implementation of PennERA, a Research Reps group, which includes senior representatives from each of the Schools and Centers, has been formed. This group meets monthly to learn about updates, new enhancements, and benefits; to refine communication and implementation strategies; to share ideas; and to offer valuable feedback to the project team.

In addition to the Research Reps groups, Working Groups of knowledgeable end users from various Schools/Centers, ORS, and ORA are being constituted to provide additional information regarding requirements and to address specific issues related to business processes during the implementation phases of the project.

One such group, the Reports Working Group, has been assembled to help assess and implement the necessary changes to reports, including BEN Reports.

Phase I Implementation Components

1. SPIN Plus

SPIN Plus is a comprehensive service that provides authorized investigators with the most current information on available funding opportunities for projects. SPIN Plus consists of three modules:

  • •SPIN--An up-to-date listing of funding opportunities from national and international governmental and private funding sources
  • GENIUS--A searchable expertise profile system that contains profiles and/or curriculum vitae of investigators who choose to make their profiles public
  • SMARTS--A system that matches GENIUS profiles with the SPIN funding opportunities and automatically delivers daily updates via e-mail

Anticipated benefits include:

  • An additional venue to discover funding opportunities
  • A reduction in time spent searching for opportunities by having a central repository with this information
  • A potential vehicle for identifying and locating co-investigator talent
  • A common database of faculty profiles
  • The potential for increasing sponsored projects funding

2. Protocol Tracking

The Protocol Tracking system is a secure web-based application that manages protocols currently active or under review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and/or the Safety Committee. It consists of three modules--Human Subjects, Lab Animals, and Hazardous Materials (Hazardous Materials will be implemented in a later phase). Each module provides authorized users the ability to create, generate, and distribute agendas, minutes, and associated communications to investigators and IRB Board members.

Anticipated benefits include:

  • Ability to store an electronic version of a protocol
  • Ability to track more information per review
  • Improved capabilities to monitor compliance
  • Ability to alert IRB members and Chairs about adverse events more quickly through the electronic alerts of the system
  • Complete amendment tracking
  • Additional protocol information available through BEN Reports
  • Enhanced access to protocol information for reviews

3. Proposal Tracking

Proposal Tracking is a secure web-based system for collecting, tracking, and reporting on application and award information for proposals. It includes real-time ad-hoc reporting capabilities, document merge functionality, an e-mail management system, and instant reporting on all proposals and awards.

Anticipated benefits include:

  • Interface with BEN Financials for the more automated creation and maintenance of Sponsored Program funds (5-funds)
  • Reduction of duplicative data entry
  • Common database of people, organizations, and sponsors
  • More complete multi-year proposal and award data for reporting and planning purposes

Complementary Initiatives: PennAEs Update

The Penn Human Subjects Adverse Events Reporting (PennAEs) component of the PennERA system is now available to everyone participating in research at Penn. The system was released to selected members of Penn's academic research community last fall following a successful pilot release of the system in September.

PennAEs is a web-based software solution that facilitates the tracking and collecting of adverse events in clinical trials and the reporting of serious adverse events involving human subjects to the Institutional Review Boards of the University of Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions or would like more detailed information about the PennAEs component of the PennERA system, or if you wish to register to use PennAEs, please send an e-mail to You can also register for PennAEs training online at

For more information on PennAEs, including reference documents and a glossary of terms, visit the PennAEs web site at

More Information about PennERA

Additional updates about PennERA will be provided throughout the project. For the most current information, please visit the PennERA project web site at If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send an e-mail to

--Robin H. Beck, Vice President, Information Systems and Computing
--Andrew B. Rudczynski, Executive Director,
Research Services and Associate Vice President of Finance
--Joseph R. Sherwin, Director, Office of Regulatory Affairs


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 27, April 1, 2003