David Winwood, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Research Foundation, says his recent appointment to the Board of Directors of the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) is a personal and professional highlight that helps position the university as a major player in the research community.
|David Winwood, CEO of the UAB Research Foundation, says his recent appointment to the Board of Directors of the Council on Governmental Relations will help position the university as a major player in the research community.|
COGR announced Winwood’s appointment to its Board and Contracts & Intellectual Property Committee earlier this month. His three-year term begins Aug. 1.
UAB President Carol Garrison and Vice President for Research and Economic Development Richard Marchase nominated Winwood for the position earlier this year. COGR, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is an association of more than 140 research universities; its committee members represent such universities as Michigan, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Stanford, among others.
“Personally, this is an opportunity for professional enrichment,” Winwood says. “You get to listen to and exchange experiences and ideas with the leadership of the very best of the high-caliber research schools.
“For the university, this recognizes that we are a major player in the university research community,” Winwood says. “I think that’s obvious to those of us here, but it’s not always recognized elsewhere. This gives us a voice at the front of the line with all of the other major players.”
Since its inception in 1948, COGR has been continuously involved in the development of all major financial and administrative aspects of federally funded research. Today, COGR’s primary function is to provide advice and information to its membership and to ensure that federal agencies understand academic operations and the impact of proposed regulations on colleges and universities. COGR helps to develop policies and practices that fairly reflect the mutual interests and separate obligations of federal agencies and universities in research and graduate education.
“It’s an advocacy and information group,” Winwood says. “You get to meet with federal program representatives as they are designing new regulations or implementing existing legislation that’s going to affect how we do research. It runs the gamut of research administration — from proposals, costing policies, reporting requirements and commercialization and intellectual property, among others.”
As CEO of the Research Foundation, Winwood sees the front end of UAB’s cutting-edge research and is involved in managing all intellectual property manners for UAB.
His office, along with UAB’s primary point of contact with federal agencies, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Office of Counsel, has to carefully review awards received from agencies ranging from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Defense and other government and educational groups to ensure the terms and conditions of the award can be accepted by the university. That’s an area where COGR membership and participation has positive benefits.
“For example, currently there is a federally funded program that’s national in scope, and it has some really difficult new terms and conditions that universities shouldn’t be accepting from COGR’s point of view,” Winwood says. “In fact, the ones who do have the awards haven’t accepted the new terms. COGR representatives are willing to share this information with one another to develop a unified response to the funding agency to resolve the issue.”
Winwood says oftentimes the terms and conditions problems center around “troublesome clauses,” or language that inadvertently prohibits universities from operating in a free and open manner. It’s typically in the form of a publication restriction and buried within the award language.
One thing that makes reviewing the awards difficult is that funding awards aren’t necessarily identical, even if they originate from the same agency.
“People tend to think the intricacies of the awards are all one size and one color, and they’re not,” Winwood says. “They each have their own twists and nuances and change over time in response to economics and politics. It’s important that we’re aware of that as an institution and understand the rationale for what’s driving these changes. We don’t want to get caught flatfooted. We don’t want to accept an award and have to do something that runs counter to what our policy says we should do. To be a part of COGR and be in a position where we can freely communicate with colleagues who are dealing with the exact same issues is immensely valuable to us.”
Winwood, a native of Northern England, came to UAB in 2008. He previously worked in research administration at North Carolina State University, the Ohio State University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
After earning his doctorate, Winwood worked in university start-up companies and a private start-up company in drug delivery for almost 15 years. Instead of pursuing a career as a bench chemist, he became the business development point person for the companies; he pitched their research in an effort to get companies and investors to invest in their products.
“That’s one of the great things about UAB — it’s leading edge in so many different areas,” Winwood says. “We get to watch the origins of a project from funding to successful results. And it’s fun to see for us because most of the licensing people in the Research Foundation are Ph.D.s and have done these kinds of things themselves. The really enjoyable thing then is finding somebody to make it available to the public once that invention has been created. That’s what it’s all about — finding a private sector partner who believes the invention or discovery has real value and will develop it further and make it available for public use. That’s the payoff point. And I enjoy doing that.”