PAVIR's First PI Newsletter

We are excited to publish our  first PAVIR PI newsletter.  The purpose of this newsletter is to let you know about HR and other operational updates and to share information regarding the research in our PI community.  We welcome ideas for improvement.  Give us your feedback at  

Board of Directors Elects Mark Nicolls, M.D., as Board Chair

Dr. Nicolls joined the PAVIR Board of Directors in June 2014, initially serving as Secretary/Treasurer.  At its July 1st meeting, the Board unanimously elected Dr. Nicolls to serve as the new Board Chair.  The Board extended its appreciation for outstanding services to Dr. David Clark, who previously held the position of Board Chair.  Dr. Nicolls is excited about his new role: “PAVIR has a tradition of focusing on researchers’ needs.  I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help lead our service-minded research institute.  I hope to add to its positive "can do" atmosphere strengthening both clinical and bench research at VAPAHCS.”   Read More
New PAVIR CFO, Bonnie Liang
We are pleased to introduce Bonnie Liang, CPA, who joined PAVIR as Chief Financial Officer on July 8, 2015.  She has over 25 years of experience in financial management, strategic planning, business development, treasury, accounting, auditing and regulatory compliance in integrated health systems, hospitals, medical foundations, and technology companies. 
Ms. Liang has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and obtained her Certified Internal Auditor in 1989, Certified Public Accountant in California in 1992, and Certified Global Management Accountant in 2011. Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal recognized her as a Women of Influence in 2008.  Ms. Liang is also trained in lean management and will substantially contribute to PAVIR's ongoing process improvement activities. 
New Sick Leave Law Broadens Coverage
Effective 7/1/2015, California law requires companies to provide sick leave benefits for all employees employed more than 30 days. As a result, PAVIR employees will fall into one of three different eligibility categories for paid sick leave benefits:
  • Full-time regular employees (i.e. not Postdoctoral Fellows): Accumulate sick leave at 5% of the hours paid each pay period with a cap of 1,040 hours.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows: Accumulate sick leave according to their Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship appointment letter, at a rate of 15 days per year with a cap of 120 hours.
  • Part-time and temporary employees: Accumulate sick leave at 3.33% of the hours paid each pay period with a cap of 48 hours.
Electronic Timecards are Coming!

We heard your feedback and we understand the process of collecting signed paper timesheets each pay period is less than perfect.  Our goal is to transition to electronic timesheets with our new payroll vendor, ADP Workforce Now.  Please note, PIs with employees will need to designate a “timecard” approver to be registered on ADP Workforce Now and will be trained on the new payroll process.  We are currently testing the electronic process with the PAVIR core office and hope to include additional groups in the upcoming months.  Please let us know if you would like to participate in the test group.
Stanford University Increases Postdoctoral Salaries

Effective 10/1/2015, Stanford University’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs approved significant increases for all Stanford appointed Postdoctoral Fellows. Please work with your Contract & Grant Analysts to understand the impact of the new salary structure on your budget. Learn More.

National Institute of Health Updates

PAVIR is now using NIH’s Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) for all U01, R01, R21, and R03 grant submissions.  Among myriad benefits, ASSIST is linked to your eRA Commons account allowing for pre-population of data from eRA, printing/previewing of the application in NIH format, and for single system submission status tracking.  The NIH will open up ASSIST for additional mechanisms throughout 2015 including R13, R61/R33, and the DP series.
The NIH Office of Extramural Research plans to clarify and revise application instructions and review criteria to enhance reproducibility of research findings through increased scientific rigor and transparency.  These will be published in the Fall of 2015 for implementation in applications with a submission deadline of January 25, 2016 and beyond.

Investigators will need to cover four highlighted areas in the preparation of their research strategy – page limits will not change.  

Revised review criteria will guide assessment whether these areas are adequately addressed in the application.  Evaluation of the first three areas will be part of the Overall Impact assessment.
  • Scientific Premise (Significance)
  • Rigorous Experimental Design (Approach)
  • Consideration of Sex and Other Relevant Biological Variables (Approach)
  • Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources (Other Research Plan section)

For more information, please see the NIH Guide Notice:


The NIH Common Fund High-Risk, High-Reward Research program is designed to support exceptionally creative scientists and highly innovative research ideas.  Dr. Ravi Basavappa is the Program Leader and will be visiting the VA Palo Alto on August 5th.  Come learn more about the awards NIH offers for high-impact research from scientists at all career stages (Early Investigator, New Innovator, Pioneer, and Transformative Research Awards).  Information about the location and time is forthcoming.  Submissions for FY2016 are due this October.  For more information please see:

Temporary Suspension of e-QIP Likely to Delay WOC Appointments and PAVIR Hiring
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the temporary suspension of the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigation Processing (e-QIP) website, a web-based platform used to complete and submit background investigation forms.  All new VA hires, including Without Compensation employees (WOCs),  are required to complete this step before their paperwork is submitted to VA Human Resources (VAHR).   PAVIR has been informed that VAHR will continue to track and process security requests on paper in the meantime,  but they cannot guarantee the prevention of some delays.  If you have specific questions regarding employees currently going through the onboarding process please contact

Upcoming:  Fringe Benefit Rate
PAVIR PIs have noted that monitoring fringe benefit expenses can be difficult due to the fact PAVIR charges the actual cost of each employee’s expenses to the grant and these expenses can vary based on a multitude of factors.  We have taken this into consideration and are currently working on a system to use negotiated fringe benefit rates perhaps as early as October 1st.

News for Researchers using Animals
On behalf of PAVIR, we would like to extend a sincere thank you to Dr. Brian Zabel for his dedication and leadership for more than three years, as Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).  As of July 1, 2015, Dr. Ting-Ting Huang was appointed as the new IACUC Chair.  The IACUC and Veterinary Medical Unit (VMU) are also excited to announce that a new web-based software system has been purchased which will handle the animal protocols as well as VMU management (census, cage cards, etc.).  The chosen product is tick@lab by a company named a-tune and is expected to roll out toward the end of the calendar year.

PAVIR Email Accounts for PAVIR Employees
We have recognized a need for business email accounts for PAVIR employees who do not have a VA or Stanford email account.  As a result, we are now setting up PAVIR email accounts for all new employees and will gradually set up current employees to the system.  Once an employee has been issued a PAVIR email account, this will be the official account by which we communicate with the employees.  We utilize Microsoft Office 365, which is available anywhere with internet service and is configurable so an employee may forward it to another email address if they so wish.  The PAVIR email address will present a professional appearance when your PAVIR employees are representing your research.

Policy Spotlight:  Research Misconduct
We recently updated our Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.  This policy, required of all institutions receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reflects VHA Handbook 1058.02 requirements that VA-affiliated not for profits handle research misconduct according to VA policy.  The VA policy recognizes that the university affiliate may have a role in any inquiry or investigation and allows for coordination of efforts between institutions.  PAVIR’s Research Misconduct policy can be found in the policy section of  What you need to know:  Those engaged in research activities involving PAVIR are obligated to report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct and to cooperate in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations.  If unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct, you may meet with or contact the Research Integrity Officer (RIO), currently Dr. David Clark, to discuss the suspected research misconduct informally, which may include discussing it anonymously and/or hypothetically.

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