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Research Integrity and Compliance Changes Guard

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs welcomes Gene A. Hines, the university’s new director of research integrity. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs welcomes Gene A. Hines, the university’s new director of research integrity.
Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has hired Gene A. Hines as the new director of research integrity and compliance.

Formerly the research liaison for the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the Institutional Biosafety Committee and export controls at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee, Hines officially started June 27 at UM. He replaces Thomas Lombardo, associate professor of psychology, who is retiring after 34 years at Ole Miss.

“I applied because this is a natural progression of my professional path, allowing me to utilize skills and expertise in areas I have experience in and enjoy, but in a new academic environment,” Hines said. “It also allows me to grow in other areas where I have less experience, but which I am very interested in.

“Also, I have become familiar with the Ole Miss research enterprise over years of informal association and have come to appreciate it as a robust academic environment and a very tight-knit and team-oriented community that I wanted to be a part of.”

As director, Hines will ensure that the ethical considerations and federal regulations associated with the “responsible conduct of research” are strictly adhered to by all UM faculty, students and staff involved in scientific studies. These include such compliance areas as permission to conduct research with human subjects; conflict of interest; research misconduct; data management practices; mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students and authorship credit. Federal funding institution wide is dependent on researchers complying with these requirements.

“We conducted a successful national search for the director of research integrity and compliance this spring, which resulted in a strong applicant pool,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “This is an important position that requires a deep understanding of federal regulations in many areas. We are so pleased that Dr. Hines accepted our offer. He has hit the ground running and is quickly integrating into the leadership team at ORSP.”

Gene A. Hines
Gene A. Hines

The new director comes well qualified for the position. At the UT Health Science Center, his primary role was to establish positive working relationships with research labs and the supporting operational and administrative units, and to foster efficient communications and transactions in support of the research enterprise. With the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Biosafety Committee, he helped investigators with compiling and submitting research protocols, including grant congruency reviews, and subsequent monitoring of and assistance with approved research activities.

He also served as the designated export controls officer reviewing research-related activities for licensure requirements. Before the UT Health Science Center, Hines was the IACUC director for Yale University and for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Hines already has set short- and long-term goals to achieve in his new position.

“My short-term goal is to maintain continuity of the already excellent research integrity and compliance program,” he said. “I intend to approach this initially by integrating into the team, learning the landscape, networking and establishing communication lines so that I understand the specific work items and their flow and processes.”

Long-term goals include reviewing any process changes recommended by his predecessor and, through a team-oriented approach, implementing needed changes. Hines also plans to ensure that all required licenses/assurances/registrations remain in good standing with federal oversight agencies and accrediting organizations.

Federal guidelines require institutional approval and oversight of activities involving human subjects and animals. Researchers whose projects, whether externally funded or not, will involve one or more of these activities should seek appropriate institutional approvals as early in the proposal development stage as possible and must obtain approval before research proceeds.

“Continual self-assessment of relevant programs, in addition to the routine work tasks, will be an important component of success,” Hines said. “Approaching all goals with a service-minded attitude to individual laboratories and the university overall is also a key to success.”

Lombardo reflected upon the research compliance and integrity area’s growth under his leadership.

“Over the years, ORSP staff members who work in this division spent substantial time educating faculty, staff and student researchers,” he said. “Tracking rules and regulations, our work helps create and maintain a culture of responsible conduct of research at the University of Mississippi.”

Occasionally, Lombardo has witnessed eager researchers whose efforts went outside the boundaries of regulations.

“In these and all other routine compliance cases, our staff aims to minimize the unnecessary administrative burden of the regulations,” he said. “They need only do what is necessary to meet the regulations and ensure optimum care of humans and animals in research. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Funding organizations, particularly federal and state agencies, require numerous certifications and assurances as a part of the proposal and award acceptance process.

Lombardo and his wife, Karen Christoff, joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1982. Graduates of the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University, respectively, they did their clinical psychology internships at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“While there, two jobs came open at the Oxford campus,” Lombardo said. “Karen got the permanent one, and I got the temporary. It was extremely rare back then for spouses to be hired in the same department.”

One of Lombardo’s favorite memories during his tenure here involved working with the director of exercise science in the then-new Turner Center.

“We used the new treadmills and aerobic performance equipment with people we were helping quit smoking,” he said. “We had to have a physician supervise the fitness tests. Rising early each day, he volunteered his time simply because he knew that we needed help. That’s just one of many examples of the Southern hospitality that my wife and I fell in love with here so many years ago.”

Hines earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of New Hampshire. He and his wife, Beth, have two children: Annabel and Andy, both in high school. Activities the Hines family enjoys include camping, hiking, biking, gardening and cooking.

For more about research compliance and integrity in the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, visit http://www.research.olemiss.edu/compliance.

Courtesy of Edwin Smith and the Ole Miss News Desk


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