Working with the VA

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) provides a venue for many research funding opportunities for Wake Forest faculty. As the competition for NIH and foundation grants and contracts continues to increase, it is prudent to take advantage of all available grant mechanisms. Nationally, the VA provides over $630 million in medical research dollars.

The VA research division has three key areas where Wake Forest faculty should consider collaborations with the VA for grant applications: (1) Merit Review Grants (similar to NIH R01 grants); (2) Career Development Awards for junior investigators (similar to NIH K awards); and (3) specialty-themed intermittent grants that arise throughout the fiscal year. 

Why should I work with the VA? 

Helping Veterans by offering research participation to them

  • Increased potential subject population
  • Additional funding source
  • Career development 
  • Extensive databases for epidemiology research
  • Opportunities for collaboration with other investigators 

If you are interested in collaborating with other Wake Forest investigators who have appointments at the VA, please contact Dr. Robin Hurley or Amy Morris for a list of investigators with existing appointments at the VA. Wake Forest faculty from the following centers and groups have conducted and/or are currently conducting research at the VA: 

  • WF Comprehensive Cancer Center 
  • Cardiology 
  • Psychiatry 
  • Urology

Please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development for more information.

Wake Forest Affiliated VAMC Sites

Charlotte Health Care Center
3506 West Tyvola Road
Charlotte, NC 28208 
704-329-1300
Kernersville Health Care Center 
1695 Kernersville Medical Parkway 
Kernersville, NC 27284  
336-515-5000
 Salisbury VA Medical Center 
1601 Brenner Avenue 
Salisbury, NC 28144 
704-638-9000 

For questions related to research at any of these sites, please contact Amy Morris at 704-638-9000 (ext. 14295) or amy.morris3@va.gov.

How to Apply for and Manage VA Funding

Investigators must have an appointment with the VA in order to apply for VA funding. If the investigator and/or any Wake Forest study staff does not already have an appointment at the VAMC, s/he can get a WOC (Without Compensation) appointment.

How do you get a WOC appointment?

There are several forms and electronic training modules that will need to be completed to start this process. You should allow for and expect the process to take approximately 60-90 days. Please contact the VA IRB Coordinator, Nathan Bledsoe, 704-638-9000 ext. 4299 or nathan.bledsoe@va.gov, for the most current WOC paperwork and process information.

How to Apply

  1. Go to the VA's Office of Research and Development website for a global introduction to VA research as well as Resources for Researchers
  2. Email Dr. Robin Hurley at robin.hurley@va.gov and meet with her to see if your interests match with VA.
  3. Complete the process to become a "without-compensation employee (WOC employee)" of the local VAMC. 
  4. Once an investigator has a WOC appointment, then he/she can request "off-site" access to the VA computer system.
  5. Once a grant opportunity/call for proposals is identified, the investigator writes a full grant application. It is then submitted via grants.gov with assistance of the Salisbury VAMC research office.

Setting Up and Managing Your VA Award

Receive Regulatory Approval
Animal subjects research at the VA must be approved through Wake Forest's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Human subjects research conducted at both Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the VA Medical Center must be approved by both sites' Institutional Review Boards.

Set Up Award
VAMC funds are set up at the VA through the VAMC Foundation in the investigator’s name. Funds are to be used for research-related activities pursuant to the final CRADA or agreement that has been put in place for the conduct of the study.

Industry funds go directly to the VAMC foundation in the Principal Investigator’s name to be used for study-related activities.

Explore Options for Study Conduct
Wake Forest’s own study coordinators can conduct the research at the VAMC through an IPA. An IPA is a contract between the VAMC and WFBH that allows compensation for per hour salary + fringe. Any study staff conducting research-related activities must have an appointment (i.e., either paid or WOC) at the VAMC.

Investigators can also opt to use VA staff to conduct research-related activities. Clinical services, administrative activities and laboratory activities can all be conducted at the VAMC. The payment for these activities can come right out of the study budget. 

Study Closeout
When a study ends, there may be residual funds. Residual funds remain in the investigator’s name at the VA in an account managed by the VAMC Foundation. PIs may access and use residual funds in any research-related activity at the VA. Funds are to be used within one year of study closure. If the funds are not used, the funds are transferred out of the PI’s name and into the Foundation. In the event that the funds are placed into the general Foundation account, the PI can make a formal request to use the funds and any such request will be reviewed by VA leadership.

Please see the VA Submission Calendar for funding opportunity deadline information.

VA Contract Considerations 

With rare exception, the VAMC functions as a separate site (i.e., not a sub-site). Generally, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is established and serves as the legal agreement between the VA and the sponsor of the study. Budgets are typically negotiated by the investigator, Larry Sama (VAMC), and Amy Morris (VAMC). Funding is sent directly to the VA.

What is a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)?

A CRADA is a legal agreement between a federal agency and one or more non-federal parties. The purpose is to foster federal/private collaborations to bring new technology to the marketplace.

The government owns the invention rights of inventions that government employees made during work hours, using government resources, or that bear a direct relation to the official duties of the inventor. The government may provide personnel, services, facilities, equipment, intellectual property, and other resources, but not funds. Non-federal parties may provide funds, personnel, services, facilities, equipment, intellectual property, or other resources. 

If there is not already a Master CRADA in place between the VA and the study sponsor/company, the VA has a model CRADA that can be submitted to the company for review. Any requested revisions to an existing CRADA, or negotiations for a new CRADA will be handled by Larry Sama at the VAMC Foundation. The investigator should provide information for the company's contracts representative to Larry Sama.

Cooperative Groups

If Wake Forest is part of a cooperative group and the VA is used to recruit patients, the rules of the cooperative group dictate how to enroll patients at the VA site. Each cooperative group is different. The investigator should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at WFBMC (contractsgroup@wakehealth.edu), the PI responsible for the cooperative group, and the cooperative group officials to determine the proper procedure under the terms of the cooperative group agreement in place with Wake Forest.

Large Pharmaceutical Industry Companies

The VA has pre-negotiated, master agreements in place with many large pharmaceutical companies. Companies may have existing Master Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (“CRADA”) and/or existing Master CDAs in place. Please contact the OSP Contracts office for a list of companies with CRADAs and CDAs in place with the VA. 

If there is no CRADA in place, the VA has a model CRADA that can be submitted to the company for review. Any requested revisions to an existing CRADA or negotiations for a new CRADA will be handled by Larry Sama at the VAMC Foundation. The investigator should provide contact information for the company's contract representative to Larry Sama. 

Small Pharmaceutical Industry Companies

If there is no Master CDA or CRADA in place, a new CRADA (either a Master CRADA or a "one-off" CRADA) can be put into place. Contact contractsgroup@wakehealth.edu or Larry Sama at the VA Foundation for more information.

Other Contract Types (Federally Funded, Investigator Initiated, etc.)

Contracts for these types of studies will vary by individual study. Please contact contractsgroup@wakehealth.edu if you have any questions.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)

An Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) contract allows the VAMC to reimburse Wake Forest (and vice versa) for salary and fringe associated with research conduct. Staff travel costs cannot be reimbursed thru an IPA. PI time cannot be reimbursed through an IPA. Funds associated with PI effort remain at the VAMC.

Frequently Asked Questions