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SecureMyResearch’s rapid adoption in 2021

Service expanded to 460 researchers in 100 departments in 2021, and still growing

Securing data has become a major challenge for researchers, especially with new and stricter regulatory cybersecurity requirements in grants, contracts, and data use agreements. To help IU students and faculty who conduct research, and the campus stakeholders who support them, IU launched SecureMyResearch in August 2020, a service co-sponsored by the Offices of the Vice President for Information Technology and the Vice President for Research.

The service is built on a decade-long effort that began with aligning IU’s research systems with HIPAA for biomedical research and providing solutions for researchers to host patient data. SecureMyResearch now plays a vital role in securing IU’s creative and research data.

Reaching a landmark 460 researcher engagements in 100 departments in 2021 was beyond our initial expectations, but it was just the tip of the iceberg.

Anurag Shankar

“Reaching a landmark 460 researcher engagements in 100 departments in 2021 was beyond our initial expectations, but it was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Anurag Shankar, manager of the SecureMyResearch service at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. “We ended up operating not only as a service that resolved issues, but also one that established long-term relationships. Once researchers have worked with us, they come back to us again and again. We become integrated into their research workflows, fulfilling another service hope.”

“Our goal for 2022 is to continue the growth trend and serve even more student and faculty researchers, and to increase our impact through increased collaborations with research support centers on campus.”

SecureMyResearch began with a vision to accelerate research at IU by reducing the cybersecurity and compliance burden on researchers, to allow them to concentrate on world-class research.  Metrics and testimonials from numerous engagements in 2021 show that this vision is now a reality.

2021 highlights

  • Handled 211 service tickets covering nearly every research scenario
  • Facilitated more than $130 million in sponsored research
  • Achieved rapid service adoption; assisted 460 researchers (equivalent to roughly 25% of all IU faculty) in 100 departments (70% of all IU academic departments and centers)
  • Established long-term relationships with more than 20 IU stakeholders that support research:
    • Invited to join the Social Sciences Research Commons
    • Became an integral resource for Neurosurgery Clinical Research Services
    • Invited to be a key component in research software risk assessment for Institutional Review Board submissions
    • Became a resource for the Office of the Vice President for Research in resolving cybersecurity terms in grants, contracts, and data use agreements
    • Helped researchers negotiate highly challenging Dept. of Defense contract terms and conditions
  • Expanded coverage beyond traditional, compliance-driven cybersecurity, such as in clinical research, to areas such as physics, computer science, earth and atmospheric sciences, and social sciences
  • Preemptively reached out to faculty and staff with presentations at faculty meetings and in departments
  • Provided holistic support by securing entire research workflows

 

I cannot say enough good things about working with you, and my hunch is [our external collaborators] are fairly happy too. I would have been hopelessly lost without the assistance of you and your colleagues.

Nicholas Port

Selected testimonials from researchers and administrators (edited for conciseness)

“Thank you very much for helping us to navigate the challenges from the cybersecurity requirements presented in a site agreement between IU and two partners. I honestly don’t know how we would have resolved this matter without the service you offered.” - Carolyn York, administrator, Neurosurgery Clinical Research Services, IU School of Medicine

“I cannot say enough good things about working with you, and my hunch is [our external collaborators] are fairly happy too. I would have been hopelessly lost without the assistance of you and your colleagues.” - Nicholas Port, associate professor, School of Optometry, IU Bloomington

“Your help in relation to [our] study will have a cascading effect of making it possible to enable enterprise-level backups for our secure server, which hosts other research projects as well.”  - Emily Meanwell, clinical associate professor, Dept. of Sociology, and director, Social Science Research Commons, IU Bloomington

“The HIPAA office at IU would like it known that over the last year, SecureMyResearch has been pivotal in increasing the security posture of research at IU. The HIPAA office frequently refers researchers to the SecureMyResearch consulting services.” - Jason Bozarth, university HIPAA security officer

“SecureMyResearch has been an invaluable resource for Research Contracting in the Office of Research Administration. We have utilized their expertise on a regular basis. We are receiving more and more contracts - both funded projects and data use agreements - that incorporate various third-party cybersecurity requirements, and the team is always available and willing to help us to think through the projects and find a way to comply.  - Katie Morris, director of Research Contracting, IU Office of Research Administration