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Published in CenterView on May 29, 2012

Sponsored projects director leaves resourceful legacy in Office of Research

By Jack Mazurak

From a decentralized universe of grants, contracts and proposals in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s research enterprise, Pam Tazik created order.

TazikUnder her direction, the Office of Research has become a resource hub for faculty members that helps find grants, prepare applications and manage awards afterward.

After 14 years working on behalf of research at UMMC – the last seven as director of sponsored projects – Tazik heads for Boulder, Colo., at the end of May.

Tazik’s team essentially built a launch pad that helped rocket sponsored-projects income from $39.9 million in FY 2008 to $85 million four years later.

“Pam has been a tremendous asset to the research program at UMMC, and that’s why I usually call her Pamtastic,” said Dr. John Hall, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research.

She modernized the office with better filing and process-management systems, including a user-friendly database to track every transaction through the office. She added employees, taking the staff from a bare-bones four to a streamlined nine.

She supported and grew new programs under Hall’s leadership, including a research program for medical students and a lecture series that brings accomplished investigators to campus from other institutions.

“Now we’re a one-stop shop for faculty members to get the forms and assistance they need,” Tazik said. “They didn’t get an M.D. or a Ph.D. to negotiate contract agreements.”

Tazik arrived at UMMC in 1998, joining the Jackson Heart Study. Jumping into three months of paperwork and spreadsheets, Tazik prepared a project-grant application business plan for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to fund the Jackson Heart Study Exam Center. The team received the award notice in 1999 for $13.7 million.

As Tazik’s first NIH-funded contract, it was a colossal one. Looking back, she said it prepared her for other large-scale contracts and grant renewals, including a $4.5 million Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study renewal in 2007 and a multimillion-dollar contract for the National Children’s Study.

She left the department in 2001 for the Office of Research.

“She’s been wonderful for the research effort, growing the Office of Research and installing their electronic system,” said Susan Shands Jones, associate general counsel. “We were doing it on paper out of a trailer and now we’ve got an organized office. She’s a wonderful leader in that area.”

Through an intramural research program Hall instituted, the office funds small grants to help young and new faculty members get their research established. During Tazik’s tenure, the program’s annual funding tripled.

The office continues to match faculty members with grant opportunities, negotiating contracts and budgets and for individual investigators and large project grants.

Hall said Tazik’s focus, dedication to the institution and ability to find solutions for nearly any problem made her so successful.

“She’s an effective leader of the office, which is a lot different than just a manager. She leads by example. Not only does she implement strategies, she participates in the discussions about what strategies we need,” he said.

“I just have the greatest admiration for her.”