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The Office of Research (OoR) provides support and resources for the Heersink School of Medicine research community. We provide a variety of services including supporting internal funding mechanisms (1R01 mechanism, Multi-Investigator planning grant, faculty recruitment and retention program to Enhance Workforce Diversity, Outcomes/Health Disparities faculty recruitment and retention program and Bridge Funding); faculty recruitment and retention; providing resources for research-intensive faculty (guidelines for standardized research acceleration funds, recommendations for salary coverage expectations, faculty departure checklist); facilitate Featured Discovery publication nominations; strategic recruitment initiatives in Neurosciences, Cancer and Diabetes; risk oversight management; and metrics/utilization of space.

Learn more about our office

Tika Benveniste, Ph.D.

Tika Benveniste, Ph.D.

Senior Vice Dean
Associate Vice President for Medicine and Basic Sciences
Charlene A. Jones Endowed Chair in Neuroimmunology
Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology


  • Oversees all aspects of the OoR
Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D.

Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Dean for Research Compliance and Administration
Endowed Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine and Pathology
Professor, Department of Pathology


  • Research and academic misconduct management
  • Heersink School of Medicine space utilization
  • Heersink School of Medicine space assignments
  • Annual space review
Thomas Buford, Ph.D.

Thomas Buford, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Research
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care


  • Development Programs for Research-intensive Faculty
  • HSOM Research Space Management and Assessment
  • Annual Space Review
  • HSOM Risk Oversight and Management

Shaila Handattu, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Shaila Handattu, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Executive Director, OoR


  • Review of Letters of Intent and Letters of Offer for research-intensive faculty
  • Facilitate Heersink School of Medicine/Triton Endowed nominations
  • Manage internal awards
  • Provides support to implementing the Heersink School of Medicine 2022 Strategic Research Focus Themes
  • Heersink School of Medicine space utilization
  • Annual space reviews
  • Coordinate Annual Review of Heersink School of Medicine Institutes and Centers
Jenna Pate, M.S.H.A., M.S.H.Q.S

Jenna Pate, M.S.H.A., M.S.H.Q.S

Data Analytics Director, OoR


  • Responsible for all aspects of data analytics for the OoR
  • Heersink School of Medicine space utilization
  • Heersink School of Medicine Research Finance Performance (NIH, Submissions, Expenditures, etc)
  • Research funding (NIH, Blue Ridge, etc)
  • Develops and maintains Heersink School of Medicine Metrics Tableau dashboards
  • Manage Featured Discovery process
  • Oversee and manage all aspects of Heersink School of Medicine Internal Grant Mechanisms and Outcomes
  • Coordinates internal reviews of large grant submissions
Kimberly Sanders

Kimberly Sanders

Executive Assistant II, OoR


  • Primary administrative support for the Senior Vice Dean for Research and Heersink School of Medicine Office of Research
  • Manage all aspects of meetings
  • Complete initial draft memorandums/letters (Letters of Support, Letters of Reference)
  • Reimbursement/Travel-via oracle or vendor/society/conference sponsors
  • Organizer for Retreats/Symposium/Roundtable Events
Carita Henry

Carita Henry

Administrative Associate, OoR


  • Provide administrative support for Office of Research faculty and staff
  • Scanning, printing, and organizing
  • Send grant awards
  • Schedule meetings 
  • Calendar management

Every gift helps us make a difference

Support the critical work of our faculty, staff, and trainees so we can continue providing the highest level of care to our patients and make breakthroughs in research and discovery.