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VCU School of Medicine

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Research Space Guidelines

Welcome to Research Space Guidelines


The VCU School of Medicine’s Research Space Guidelines serve to document the criteria that guide the School’s Dean in the distribution of wet bench research space within the School of Medicine (SOM). These guidelines will be reviewed and revised periodically to ensure that research space is utilized effectively and in accordance with changing goals, priorities and funding levels. These guidelines refer to wet bench research only.

Guiding Principles

  • All research space in the School of Medicine belongs to the Dean and all space assignments are made by the Dean in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Research Training and the Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration. Vacated space reverts to the Dean and not the Department to which the previous faculty member occupant belonged. Research space utilization will be evaluated based on criteria outlined in these Guidelines.
  • Research space utilization is tracked by the Research Space Management System (RSMS).
  • No-cost extensions are not considered as active funding and are not included in the $/SF calculations in RSMS.
  • Extramurally funded sponsored research will be given highest priority for assignment of research laboratory and research-related space.
  • Non-university space leased for research will be included in the inventory.

Unassigned research space will be recorded in the Dean’s Office room inventory until assigned. Common support space for equipment and freezers will be assigned to faculty in open format lab configurations in proportion to their assigned bench space, as detailed below

Research Space Utilization

Research award dollars per square foot of research and research-related space will be used as the primary criterion for evaluating research space utilization. Square footage will be based on actual laboratory dimensions in locations with “closed labs,” including selected labs in KMSB , McGuire Hall and McGuire Annex, Smith Building, and Sanger Hall floors that have not undergone renovation. In buildings (Goodwin, Molecular Medicine) and on floors of Sanger Hall where labs are in the open format (currently floors 2, 3 and 7 Pauley Heart) we have converted square feet to research modules. The calculation is described below.

Calculation of $ per square foot

  • The $ per square feet ratio is calculated by dividing wet award dollars (direct costs only) by wet square feet. A calculation is provided for each PI.
  • For open laboratories we have devised modules. One module is the space required to support the research activity of one R01 grant which on average funds the work of four researchers. The average R01 grant is currently about $225,000 in direct costs. The modules in each research building in the SOM are defined as follows:
    • Type A: Sanger unrenovated space, McGuire Hall and Smith 7. One module or R01 equivalent equals 750 sq. ft (lab + office)
    • Type B: Kontos Medical Research Building. One module equals 465 sq. ft. of closed lab + office (88 sq. ft.) + central support space (approx.. 100 sq.ft) = approx.. 650 sq. ft.
    • Type C: Open lab space with 21’ lab benches (Goodwin, Sanger 2 and 3, Pauley Heart). One module equals one bench (two researchers on each side + 1 procedure room + equipment corridor space + shared core space + faculty office.
    • Type D: Open lab space with 13.5’ bench length (Molecular Medicine Research Building). One module equals 2 benches (one researcher on each side) + 1 alcove + tissue culture space (~ 80 sq. ft) + equipment corridor space (~ 80 sq. ft.) + shared core space + faculty office.
  • One module = 750 sq. ft for space calculations. Thus the $/sq. ft. for an average R01 should average 300 $/sq. ft., We have set our floor $/sq.ft for each researcher at 250$/sq.ft. This allows the research $ support to be as low as $187,500 for 750 sq. ft. of space (one module) or the space for the average R01 ($225,000) to be as high as 900 sq. ft. Space that is consistently funded below $250sq. ft. will be classified as “underfunded”; space that is consistently funded below $200/sq. ft. will be classified as “at risk”.

Reassignment of Underutilized Space

A senior investigator whose space is underfunded or at risk for more than 2 1/2 years or a new (NIH early career) investigator for more than 5 years is subject to space contraction. Space that is unfunded for more than 2 1/2 years can be reassigned to another investigator. Decisions concerning contraction or loss of space will be made by the Dean.

Requests and Approvals

Individual faculty must submit requests for additional space by filling out the form available at the SOM Research website or the facilities website and sending it to Beth Kiser (eckiser@vcu.edu). Requests for additional space will be evaluated by the Space Committee (Beth Kiser, Keith Hayes, Gordon Archer and Amy Sebring) and recommendations will be submitted to the Dean for final approval. All new and competing grant proposals that anticipate needing additional space if the proposal is funded should include plans for space expansion in their internal routing form at the time of grant submission.


Department chairs may submit a written appeal to the Dean within two weeks of the Dean’s decision if he/she can provide additional justification for the requested action.