July 21, 2021

Handattu assumes new role in UAB School of Medicine Office of Research

Written by

Shaila Handattu articleShaila Handattu, Ph.D., MBA, is the new executive director in the UAB School of Medicine Office of Research. Handattu, whose newly-created position became effective on June 1, will serve in a role that facilitates and assists researchers with external grant applications, manage School of Medicine internal funding opportunities, as well as serve on the school's Space Committee.

An immigrant from India, Handattu came to UAB as post-doctoral fellow in 2000. She was a basic scientist at UAB for 13 years before transitioning to an administrative role. Now, she has been at UAB for over 21 years.

The School of Medicine communications team sat down with Dr. Handattu to discuss her new role in the Office of Research and to learn a bit about her journey at UAB.

Q: What services do you provide and to whom?

The School of Medicine Office of Research (OoR) has it's toes dipped in a lot of different ponds. Some of the areas we’re involved in include strategic planning for research focus within the School of Medicine; space management, new constructions, and/or renovations; research-intensive faculty recruit oversight, AMC 21 awards; and, facilitation of start-up packages for new recruits and retention packages for current faculty. The OoR collaborates with other school units and entities like strategic recruitment office, departmental chairs, and the School of Medicine finance team for many of these activities, as well as with the Vice President for Research Office.

Q: Is this newly-created position exclusive to School of Medicine researchers?

The goal for this position is to facilitate research endeavors of School of Medicine faculty and staff. However, if researchers from other schools are involved, we will coordinate with the UAB Vice President of Research Office of Research.

Q: What are a few top goals as you get started?

One of my top priorities is to provide SOM researchers a consolidated outlook of activities and support provided by the Office of Research on the School of Medicine research webpage, as well as adding standardized language related to research proposals, so faculty can find all relevant information in one place.

Plus, the OoR has recently started working with the departments to implement a uniform research-intensive faculty hiring process across the school and will continue to fine tune the process. Another priority is to emphasize inclusivity in the hiring process, specifically to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented faculty by facilitating new recruit hires and faculty retention.

Q: What is a major long-term goal?

One of my long-term goals for our office is to facilitate distinctive grant applications for faculty by providing them with the resources needed for successful submission. We help by identifying proposals, then pinpointing and bringing together investigators with expertise in the field from across the school, and if need be from other institutions. We also assist with writing the proposals and any other assistance needed in the preparation of a successful application.

Q: In your perspective, what makes UAB School of Medicine’s research environment unique?

One thing that stands out is the rich diversity and culture of the research community. I also appreciate that the School of Medicine continues to conduct a wide array of research from artificial intelligence to community engagement. UAB is a national leader in federally funded research and the school is a huge contributor to this success.

Q: What drives your passion for research funding?

I was a basic scientist at UAB for 13 years before transitioning to an administrative role so advances in medicine and technology have always been at the forefront of my career. Actually, the main reason I chose to stay at UAB is so that I can continue to contribute to research efforts with my scientific background.

Q: How has being at UAB and living in Birmingham affected your work?

I emigrated from India and joined UAB in 2000 as a post-doctoral fellow. Living in Birmingham has allowed me the flexibility of maintaining a work-life balance that I am not sure would have been possible anywhere else.

Q: What made you come to UAB?

21 years ago, I was offered a job as a basic scientist at UAB, and I was a little hesitant as I would be bringing along a 4-year-old as a single parent. However, I was assured that bringing my daughter with me wouldn’t set me back in my career. UAB’s support of not just my role as a researcher/employee but as a mother, made me choose to come to UAB and stay at UAB for the past 21 years.