Ready for testing

Northwestern’s new vice president for research won’t back down from a challenge.

C. Bradley Moore has stepped into a department that paid a $5.5 million settlement to end a lawsuit by the U.S. federal government in February and currently is undergoing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health into its animal-research practices.

But Moore said he is ready to turn things around at NU — just as he did in his previous position at Ohio State University.

Moore, who started at NU on May 1, said he is committed to ensuring that all aspects of research — both the administrative and faculty sides — function legally and punctually. His first priority is getting the Office of Research and all of its departments working well and efficiently.

“We do need to prove that we can do (research) well, on time and all the time,” Moore said. “To me, it’s extremely important for maintaining NU as one of the premier institutions doing research. It’s very important to do things right.”

University President Henry Bienen said he is confident Moore is a positive addition to the Office of Research.

“He comes in at an interesting time,” Bienen told The Daily on April 29. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Moore said he is not concerned that the recent investigations into research practices have put NU in the media spotlight — at least in the academic world. Many universities and institutions often deal with compliance issues, he said.

“Northwestern has such a tremendous reputation in terms of its academic programs, research programs and leadership in interdisciplinary research,” Moore said. “It doesn’t tarnish our reputation a great deal in the academic setting.”

Moore said he continues to learn about the way NU’s research office works. His previous post as vice president for research at Ohio State required many of the same skills but on a larger scale, he said.

Hiring and retaining staff with proper qualifications is high on Moore’s agenda, he said, although he expects departments within the research office to specialize individually and to report to him.

“Clearly I’m not an expert on everything,” he said. “But they need to understand what’s going on.”

Moore previously served as the vice president of research at Ohio State, where he helped organize the school’s infrastructure, which lagged for the growing amount of research being conducted. Prior to that, Moore was dean of the College of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his doctorate. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1986.

As for his future at NU, Moore said he hopes to work with NU’s Office of Development to help further connections and raise funds. Sarah Pearson, who took over this year as vice president for development, said it is not uncommon for various NU deans to collaborate with the development office. Much of the $1.4 billion Campaign Northwestern is composed of donations from individuals and foundations to the university’s research program, she said.

“We’ll clearly have a very strong working relationship with (Moore’s) team,” Pearson said. “It’s a very fluid and supportive organization.”

Increased research and intellectual challenges among faculty will help further donor interest, Moore said. As the Office of Research becomes more organized and resolves its problems with federal investigations, research will be able to continue to grow.

For that reason, he added, it is important to invest in working relations and to institute systems that organize records and keep track of current documents. “As the research enterprise grows, the infrastructure needs to grow very rapidly as well.”

John Brauman, a chemistry professor at Stanford University, called Moore’s hiring a wonderful acquisition for NU. The two have known each other both in professional and personal contexts for many years.

“His interests transcend by far anything of this sort,” Brauman said, referring to NU’s research problems. “He accepts the responsibility and is willing to do it.”