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Core Exchange: A Professional Development Program for Shared Resource Personnel

Keywords: professional development, seminars, core personnel, shared resource, networking, research community

Published onApr 25, 2024
Core Exchange: A Professional Development Program for Shared Resource Personnel


Introduction/Objective: Academic institutions often struggle to meet the unique professional development needs of shared resource personnel, who require business skills, project and people management expertise, and an active, collaborative network of shared resource colleagues.
Materials and Methods: We launched the Vanderbilt Core Exchange professional development and networking program in 2020. The program was intentionally designed with core personnel input and supports faculty and staff from more than 80 shared resources across Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Resources offered include a quarterly seminar series with both virtual and in-person events, a website for accessing professional development materials and session recordings, and a dedicated online discussion group for core personnel networking.
Results: There have been 11 Vanderbilt Core Exchange events to date: 2 in person and 9 virtual. In-person events averaged 35 attendees, and virtual events averaged 45 attendees. Topics included equipment grant writing, marketing, handling difficult conversations, managing different workplace work styles, communication and project management tools, and the importance of self-care. Survey responses collected after each event were highly positive and informed areas of improvement and future event topics.
Discussion: This model of local shared resource professional development serves as a template for institutions who desire to create opportunities for collaboration and community building. With a small coordinating committee of dedicated individuals, an institution-wide professional development and networking program can be successfully established even with limited resources.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO: Kimberly Brown Dahlman, 722 Preston Research Building, 2220 Pierce Avenue, Nashville, TN 37232; Phone: 615-936-6589; email: [email protected].

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Core personnel require a unique and diverse skill set. In addition to maintaining highly specialized scientific knowledge and familiarity with advanced technologies, staff in core facilities and shared research resources (collectively “cores”) are expected to develop a high degree of business acumen, work seamlessly within teams, and effectively serve core customers. While many staff have formal training in technical areas, professional development opportunities are critical for acquiring other necessary skills after entering the workforce. Professional development enables employees to expand and deepen their knowledge base by taking classes, participating in workshops, and/or attending professional or industry conferences. Core personnel can thus gain technical and field-specific expertise while building the interpersonal skills that support a productive and fulfilling career. Professional development also encourages networking, which can lead to new opportunities, mentorship, support, and knowledge sharing. Employees who pursue professional development additionally demonstrate to supervisors that they are enthusiastic about furthering their careers.

Professional development positively impacts employers (core directors and institutions) by growing stronger teams and supporting employee confidence. Professional development opportunities have been shown to decrease turnover by attracting and retaining talented employees.[1] According to talent management platform Clear Company, 74% of employees report that a lack of professional development opportunities prevents them from reaching their full potential.[2] Additionally, 94% of employees would stay longer with an employer if staff development was a serious investment.[2] This should particularly interest core leaders who are struggling with employee retention challenges.

Despite the benefits to both individuals and their employers, professional development programs for core facility personnel are limiting at many academic institutions. In a 2019 report, only 34% of cores in the United States offered continuing education opportunities to their core personnel.[3] Many institutions offer professional development programs, but they are often directed toward faculty (many core personnel are not faculty). They typically do not address the unique needs of core personnel, which include communicating with customers, balancing multiple projects, developing business plans, working in teams, acquiring new equipment, facility management, efficient laboratory practices, biotechnology advances and applications, core-specific oversight procedures, and more. The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) and its regional chapters provide incredible national and regional professional development opportunities for core directors, managers, administrators, and staff. However, support of networking, education, and professional development for core personnel is lacking at the local level. This local support is important to develop a community of practice, enhance collaboration and communication, share best practices, achieve career satisfaction and advancement, and recruit and retain stellar employees. Local professional development for core personnel is vital for personnel to share institutional knowledge and practices unique to their research community.

To address the need for core-specific professional development at Vanderbilt, we piloted full-day professional development retreats in 2018 and 2019. The planning team consisted entirely of Vanderbilt University (VU) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) core personnel who were backed by enthusiastic support from research leaders. The 2 retreats were incredibly well-received and resulted in valuable feedback from a diverse group of more than 80 core personnel. We learned that attendees were eager for additional core-specific networking and growth opportunities, holding 1 event per year was not sufficient to fulfill the group’s needs, and many core personnel could not commit to a full-day event format. Based on this feedback, the planning team conceptualized a new program with shorter quarterly events as the cornerstone.

We launched Vanderbilt Core Exchange (VCE) in 2020 to provide frequent, accessible professional development programming for core personnel at our institution. Events are open to all personnel (faculty, staff, and administrators) across Vanderbilt’s network of more than 80 cores. VCE’s primary goals are to offer professional development through a core-specific lens, promote unity among VU and VUMC core colleagues, demonstrate institutional support and appreciation for core personnel, and offer a forum to share best practices and advancements. In this paper, we describe our approach to the VCE professional development program and share session topics, formats, and program results.


Planning committee

A small organizing committee plans all aspects of the VCE. Committee members are faculty, staff, or administrators working directly in or with cores and split evenly between the 2 institutions. The committee ranges from 5 to 10 members, and members serve for at least 1 year. New committee members are recruited by an “open call” to all Vanderbilt core personnel once a year. To date, all core personnel who volunteered to serve on the committee have been invited to participate. The committee meets virtually each month and maintains interim communication. Planning committee duties include attending monthly meetings, creating/reviewing needs assessments, conceptualizing event topics and formats, inviting and communicating with speakers, creating marketing materials, securing program funding, assisting with all aspects of in-person events (e.g., space reservations, catering, set-up), and actively engaging with the VCE Slack channel.

Needs assessments and postevent surveys

The planning committee administered a needs assessment in 2019 to identify key programming interests of core personnel. A survey requesting input on desired topics was sent to all VU and VUMC core personnel who attended the 2019 professional development retreat. Survey takers were instructed to select up to 6 session topics of interest from a menu of 26 options. Initial VCE events were designed based on the results of this survey.

After each VCE event, attendees were encouraged to complete a brief survey to rate their overall level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the session. Surveys from November 2020 and later also asked respondents to rate the utility of the session. Postevent surveys were administered for 9 of 11 events via email to registered participants or at the end of the event. We did not administer surveys for the “Reconnect Event” and “All About NIH S10 Equipment Grants” sessions.

A second needs assessment and program evaluation survey was administered in Spring 2023 to garner information on overall program satisfaction and input on desired topics and event formats for future sessions. The 2023 survey was broadly distributed to core personnel via existing email distribution lists maintained by the VUMC Office of Research and VU Basic Sciences administrative team. All needs assessments and postevent surveys were anonymous and electronic and were designed and administered using REDCap ([4]

Collaboration and marketing tools

All virtual events were hosted via the Zoom ( virtual meeting platform using an institutional license. Attendance numbers for each event were calculated by counting the number of unique participant IDs (email addresses) from Zoom meeting reports. Attendance data was available for 9 of 11 events. Attendance data were not collected for “Virtual Education &

Training for Shared Resources” and “Strategy & Impact for Cores.” The Slack ( messaging platform was used to establish a VCE channel that enables real-time messaging between events. The Slack channel is advertised at VCE events, and anyone from VU or VUMC is invited to join. Slack serves as an additional communication channel for VCE participants and is used for various core-related discussions and to promote relevant events (e.g., VCE, ABRF). All branding materials and event flyers were designed by the planning committee using online software. Event flyers were broadly circulated in e-newsletters, core-specific email distribution lists, Slack, and direct mailings by organizing committee members for approximately 1 month before each event. Calendar invitations with event details are also distributed directly to the core personnel via email.


Core personnel topics of interest

To best understand the unique needs of core personnel, core personnel were surveyed about topics of interest in 2019 before initiating VCE programming. Forty-one people (49% response rate) who self-identified as core personnel completed the 2019 survey. Respondents represented a variety of roles, including Core Director (9.8%; n = 4), Core Manager (22.0%; n = 9), Core Staff (31.7%; n = 13), Core Administrator (14.7%; n = 6), and Other (14.7%; n = 6). A subset of respondents (7.3%; n = 3) preferred not to indicate their role. Respondents indicated they have worked with a core for the following number of years: 0 to 5 (46.2%; n = 18), 5 to 10 (17.9%; n = 7), 10 to 15 (23.1%; n = 9), 15 to 20 (2.6%; n = 1), and 20+ (2.6%; n = 1). A subset of respondents (12.8%; n = 5) preferred not to indicate their length of core work.

Survey takers were instructed to choose up to 6 topics they wished to see at a future VCE event. The 10 most popular topics are shown in Figure 1. Leadership skills (41%; n = 17) and professional development (39%; n = 16) were the 2 most popular topics. Managing difficult customers and long-term strategic planning (34%; n = 14); managing different personalities and increasing publications and citations (32%; n = 13); project management, measuring Shared Resource impact, and budgeting (29%; n = 12); and website design (27%; n = 11) rounded out the top 10. Other surveyed topics included rate setting and negotiation skills (24%; n = 10); managing big data sets (22%; n = 9); recruiting and managing external customers (20%; n = 8); standard operating procedure writing and effective grant writing (17%; n = 7); Vanderbilt Core innovations, pinpointing funding mechanisms, and crisis management (15%; n = 6); iLab implementation and developing effective surveys (12%; n = 5); data generation versus data analysis (10%; n = 4); and marketing and establishing scientific rigor and reproducibility (7%; n = 3). There was also an option for “I don’t know” (no votes) and “Other” (5%; n = 2), which produced suggestions for IT topics and managing external agreements.

Figure 1

Top 10 requested VCE topics: 2019 needs assessment. A needs assessment was administered to core personnel in 2019. Core personnel were invited to select up to 6 topics they wanted to see presented at a future VCE event. The top 10 requested topics are shown in order of the number of votes received.

VCE events

VCE programming has included 2 in-person and 9 virtual events with a third in-person event planned (Figure 2). An in-person kick-off event was hosted in February 2020 with 30 participants. This event included highly interactive workshops, talks from experts across Vanderbilt, and networking sessions. VCE events quickly pivoted to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all events hosted via Zoom until 2022. We continue to hold most events virtually to accommodate a hybrid and spatially distanced Vanderbilt workforce. However, we re-established yearly in-person events after pandemic restrictions on in-person gatherings were lifted. To further promote accessibility, sessions are recorded with speaker permission and posted on a VCE website on the Vanderbilt intranet. Select sessions are not recorded and/or recording is stopped prior to the discussion period to encourage participant engagement. In-person events averaged 35 attendees per session (range: 30–40), whereas virtual events averaged 45 attendees per session (range: 26–84) (Figure 3). The top 3 attended virtual events were “Project Management Tools and Tips” (84 participants), “Working with Difficult People: Is it You or Me?” (54 participants), and “The Importance of Self-Care for Those who Care (About Others)” (43 participants). There has been an upward trend in the number of attendees per event over time (2020–2023).

Figure 2

Overview of the VCE program structure. VCE has hosted 2 in-person and 9 virtual events from calendar years 2019 to 2023. An additional in-person event is planned. Events are listed chronologically under the corresponding year on the timeline. The VCE planning committee aims for 1 in-person and 3 virtual events per academic year. The committee administers planning and evaluation surveys and has monthly planning meetings between events.

Figure 3

VCE event attendance increased over time. Attendance data were recorded for 7 virtual events (blue) and 2 in-person events (orange) between 2019 and 2023. Event names and corresponding numbers of attendees are shown above the data points.

After each VCE event, attendees are asked to complete a brief anonymous and electronic feedback survey. Responses from 156 postevent surveys were collected representing 9 VCE sessions held in 2020 to 2023. Attendees provided overwhelmingly positive satisfaction feedback on postevent surveys (Figure 4). Most respondents (99%; n = 153) were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the session they attended. One attendee was “somewhat dissatisfied” (<1%) and one was “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied” (<1%). None of the respondents reported they were “very dissatisfied” with a session (Figure 4A). Survey takers were also asked whether the information presented in the session they attended was useful from the perspective of a core employee (Figure 4B). Most respondents (99%; n = 132) indicated that the session they attended was “very useful” or “moderately useful.” One attendee reported that a session was “a little useful” (<1%). No one reported that a session was “not at all useful.”

Figure 4

Attendees are satisfied with VCE events and found the information useful. Participants were asked on postevent surveys to rate (A) their overall satisfaction with the event and (B) the utility of information presented. Satisfaction and utility ratings were collected on 9 and 8 surveys, respectively, from 2020 to 2023.

Free-text survey comments showed that participants enjoyed workshop-style events, tangible lessons and tools (e.g., worksheets and assessments), learning about their own communication and work styles, and having candid discussions with colleagues both inside and outside their laboratory group. Representative participant comments include the following: “This presentation was an important reminder that I need to learn from all of my colleagues and make sure that everyone feels included and valued.”; “The information presented was clear, practical and thought provoking.”; “I always enjoy professional development topics. There were several people on the call today that are part of my direct team. It was helpful to see their types and how we all may differ. Very valuable.”; “The networking is always the most valuable aspect to me.”; and “I really liked hearing about what different cores are doing. I feel like I don't know enough about what other cores exist let alone what they actually do.” Most “suggestions for improvement” focused on logistical issues, including having longer and/or follow-up sessions to dive more deeply into a given topic, allowing more time for questions/discussion, and hosting in-person events at a more accessible location. Representative comments are as follows: “The event went over time. I’d like to see fewer talks and more time to network with other participants”; “I think some breakout groups or follow up sessions would be helpful.”; “The location was poor and difficult to find. I would suggest using a different conference room in the future.”; and “Shorter event so we don’t have to commit so much time to it.”

Program evaluation

In May 2023, a second needs assessment was administered to all VU and VUMC core personnel to evaluate the program and better understand the evolving needs of core personnel. Thirty-one core personnel responded to the survey. Respondents represented a variety of roles, including Core Director (19%; n = 6), Core Manager (36%; n = 11), Core Staff (16%; n = 5), Core Administrator (13%; n = 4), and Other (10%; n = 3). A subset of respondents (7%; n = 2) preferred not to indicate their role. Respondents indicated they have worked with a core for the following number of years: 0 to 5 (23%; n = 7), 5 to 10 (19%; n = 6), 10 to 15 (23%; n = 7), 15 to 20 (19%; n = 6), and 20+ (16%; n = 5). Most of the respondents had attended multiple VCE events, with 32% (n = 10) of respondents indicating they had attended more than 5 VCE events between 2020 and 2023. Interestingly, 23% (n = 7) of respondents indicated that they had not attended a previous VCE event.

Participants who had not attended a previous VCE event were only allowed to answer questions related to future planning.

Respondents who had attended at least 1 VCE event indicated overwhelming satisfaction with the overall VCE program (Figure 5). The vast majority of respondents (92%; n = 22) were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the VCE program. One respondent was “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied” (4%) and another was “very dissatisfied” (4%). Those who attended 3 or more events (52% of respondents; n = 16) had a 100% satisfaction rate with the program.

Respondents who had attended at least 1 VCE event were also asked to review a list of 15 statements and select all statements that applied to their experience with VCE (“As a result of my participation in Core Exchange activities, I...”) ((ref?)). Importantly, respondents reported that they learned new information to help them in their current role, adopted new skills, increased confidence in their role, and felt more supported by participating in VCE events. The 5 most common results of participating in VCE were as follows: Learned how to leverage my personal strengths and talents in my professional role (58%; n = 14); Created new/stronger connections with colleagues outside my lab/core (58%; n = 14); Work in teams more effectively (50%; n = 12); Feel more confident managing difficult conversations (50%; n = 12); and Serve core customers more effectively (46% n = 11). Twenty-three respondents (96%) selected at least 1 positive outcome from participating in VCE events (average: 5 outcomes per respondent; range: 1-12 outcomes per respondent). One respondent selected “None of these apply to me” in response to this question.

Table 1

VCE evaluation outcomes

As a result of my participation in Core Exchange activities, I:

% respondents (no. of responses)*

Learned how to leverage my personal strengths and talents in my professional role

58% (n = 14)

Created new/stronger connections with colleagues outside my lab/core

58% (n = 14)

Work in teams more effectively

50% (n = 12)

Feel more confident managing difficult conversations

50% (n = 12)

Serve core customers more effectively

46% (n = 11)

Created new/stronger connections with colleagues in my own lab/core

38% (n = 9)

Learned how to engage with regional and national ABRF meetings/resources

38% (n = 9)

Submitted/contributed to an equipment grant (e.g., NIH S10)

33% (n = 8)

Feel more likely to continue in my current role/career path

29% (n = 7)

Implemented a self-care practice or improved my overall self-care

29% (n = 7)

Feel more supported/valued by institutional leaders

21% (n = 5)

Feel more supported/valued by my supervisor/core leader

21% (n = 5)

Adopted a new laboratory practice (new technology, project management, SOPs, etc.)

21% (n = 5)

Created or updated virtual content (training videos, marketing materials, etc.)

8% (n = 2)

None of these apply to me

4% (n = 1)

*Results are based on 24 Vanderbilt core personnel responses.

Regardless of prior event attendance, all survey takers were asked to select topics from a list of 18 that they would like to see presented at a future VCE event (Figure 5). There was no limit on the number of selections. All respondents selected at least 1 topic (average: 5 topics per respondent; range: 1-17 topics per respondent). While the options were updated and expanded from the 2019 survey, the themes that emerged were similar. Leadership skills (48%; n = 15) and professional development (42%; n = 13) were still the 2 most popular topics, followed by core business practices, strategic planning, marketing, and new technology showcase, all selected by 39% (n = 12) of survey takers. Website design, data management, and best practices for working with customers were selected by 35% (n = 11) of respondents; 32% (n = 10) indicated that they wanted to learn more about team dynamics/managing different personalities; and 29% (n = 9) wanted a networking event. Other respondents indicated that they wanted to hear about scientific presentations from core users (26%; n = 8), project management (26%; n = 8), scientific rigor and reproducibility (23%; n = 7), crisis planning and management (16%; n = 5), environmental sustainability (13%; n = 4), and collaborating on grants and manuscripts (13%; n = 4). One respondent (3%) selected “none of these.”

Figure 5

Core personnel are satisfied with the VCE program. A 2023 program evaluation survey asked attendees of previous VCE events to rate their overall satisfaction with the VCE program.

The planning portion of the survey also asked for respondents’ preferred event format and days/times, as detailed in Figure 6. Notably, 58% (n = 18) of respondents preferred mostly virtual events with a few in-person events, with an additional 23% (n = 7) preferring virtual events only. Less than 20% (n = 6) preferred mostly in-person or only in-person events (Figure 7A). Our typical program day (Friday) received the least votes (26%; n = 8). Midweek days, specifically Tuesday (65%; n = 20) and Thursday (68%; n = 21) were the most popular (Figure 7B). Our typical program time (Noon-1 pm) received the most votes (65%; n = 20), followed by early afternoon (1-4 pm) times (58%; n = 18) (Figure 7C).

Figure 6

Top 10 VCE topics for future consideration: 2023 needs assessment. A second needs assessment was administered to core personnel in 2023. Core personnel were invited to select all topics they wanted to see presented at a future VCE event. There was no limit to the number of selections per respondent. The top 10 requested topics are shown in order of the number of votes received.

Figure 7

Core personnel prefer virtual and midweek events. All Vanderbilt core personnel were invited to provide event format and timing preferences in a 2023 survey. (A) Respondents’ preferred event format, (B) respondents’ preferred event day, and (C) respondents’ preferred event time are shown.


In 2020, we launched a comprehensive, needs-driven professional development program (VCE) for Vanderbilt core personnel (Figure 2). While previous Vanderbilt events for cores aimed to connect core personnel with customers, the VCE is “inward- facing” by design. That is, programming is specific to the professional needs of core personnel. The structure of our program allows for maximal participation by keeping most events to 1 hour and hosting primarily virtual events to accommodate our hybrid and spatially distant workforce. Participants highly valued the interactive aspects of the program, including workshop-style sessions, “take-home” materials and tools, and candid discussions with colleagues. Although networking and active learning can be done in the virtual environment, we also offer yearly in-person events to maintain more robust personal connections. Furthermore, a broad range of core personnel find the information presented in VCE sessions highly useful. We intentionally select scientific and administrative topics that are relevant regardless of scientific discipline, career stage, or laboratory position.

Feedback from needs assessments, post-session surveys, and attendance reports has allowed us to routinely critically evaluate our processes and implement changes. Prior to launching VCE, we held 2 annual full-day core retreats focused on professional development. Although the retreats were successful, we learned that participants were stressed by or unable to take a full day away from their research and attend the retreat. If an employee missed the retreat, there was no opportunity to reconnect until a full year later. We reimagined our event format and launched the quarterly VCE series in direct response to feedback from retreat attendees. The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced the virtual event format, as many Vanderbilt employees moved to a remote environment. The switch to a virtual environment helped increase program engagement, as the sessions were shorter and more frequent and employees could join from any location. Virtual sessions also required a much lower (often zero) budget as we did not need funds for space, audio/video, and food and beverage. Environmental sustainability is another key benefit of virtual events, with no environmental impact from attendee travel, printed materials, or catering waste.

Our most recent program evaluation survey indicates that virtual events remain highly preferred, and we will continue to host most events virtually. However, 77% of survey respondents indicated interest in having at least some future events in person. In-person events require attendees’ full focus and provide unique opportunities for networking and engaging newer core personnel that can’t yet be fully replicated in virtual sessions. Providing refreshments or a meal further incentivizes attendance and helps convey Vanderbilt leaders’ appreciation for the invaluable contributions of core personnel. For future in-person events, we aim to utilize different locations throughout the large Vanderbilt campus to ensure equitable access. We will also pursue only locations that do not charge a reservation fee to keep our program costs low. The planning committee will continue to closely monitor attendance data and attendee feedback to ensure that our event formats are meeting our participants’ needs.

Setting an appropriate event length has been challenging. It is difficult to anticipate how much time and attention participants are willing to commit. Comments on postevent surveys and feedback to the planning committee indicated that the full-day retreats and the 2-hour kickoff event were too long. On the other hand, multiple attendees requested longer and/or follow-up sessions to continue exploring certain topics. The VCE piloted a 2-part series for the topic “Virtual Education & Training for Shared Resources in the time of COVID-19,” as we recognized that a 1-hour event would not be enough time to cover the topic in sufficient detail. Upon attendee request, we also held an informal follow-up to the CliftonStrengths session, which featured guided discussion in virtual breakout groups. Moving forward, we will add a follow-up question on our post-session survey to help us plan additional sessions on popular topics.

Even with an established program, we struggle with relatively low attendance (fewer than 50 attendees on average) relative to Vanderbilt’s vast core network (more than 80 cores). While planning sessions, the VCE considers the monthly core billing deadlines, yearly financial close, ABRF regional and chapter meetings, and local school schedules to identify days and times to maximize attendance. Furthermore, the VCE sends out a calendar invitation with every session advertisement to ensure that the session appears on calendars at least a month in advance. The use of calendar invites has greatly increased attendance compared to sending emails alone. Our most recent planning survey has provided critical data to plan future events at the most appropriate days and times. For example, we typically held virtual events on Fridays, which was the least popular option in our recent survey. We also held in-person events in the late afternoon, which was extremely unpopular on our survey. Free-text comments from our surveys indicated that children’s school schedules and the variable nature of core work influence staff availability. We will continue to gather feedback and iterate on our event structure to serve the broadest possible group of attendees.

The VCE program was initiated and continues to be maintained by a small group of highly engaged core personnel with extremely supportive leadership from both VU and VUMC. Although the effort to launch the program was not overwhelming, core personnel have limited time outside of their daily schedules to involve themselves in event planning and execution. Employers are necessary partners in recruiting diverse and dedicated committee members. We are grateful to have high-level research leadership who value professional development and give employees the flexibility to lead and contribute to VCE. Additionally, we have a large pool of core employees who have benefited from VCE participation and are now eager to serve on the planning committee. Without supportive leaders and motivated committee members, planning committees may become burned out and/or there may be a high rate of turnover due to their competing responsibilities in the core. We found that virtual events are much easier to plan and execute and thus can help prevent committee burnout.

Limited budgets may also pose a challenge. We would again recommend virtual programming. All VCE virtual events, except for the CliftonStrengths event, incurred no cost. The VCE relied on generous speakers to donate time and leveraged the institutional Zoom license to host sessions. The VCE utilized Slack (also free) to maintain connection between meetings. Although Slack was initially utilized heavily and remains vital for the planning committee, organic interaction and discussion between core personnel has sharply decreased. We are currently seeking alternate methods to maintain connection between VCE events.

In summary, the development of the VCE program at Vanderbilt demonstrates how a small group of core personnel can successfully collaborate to design and execute a professional development program that meets the unique needs of core personnel. Although developing these events took time, we delivered a highly useful set of sessions. VCE events covered a breadth of topics that core personnel found engaging, including virtual education and training, writing equipment grants, project management, working with difficult people, and self-care. Notably, this program structure can be successfully implemented in resource-scarce settings by leveraging the virtual environment. Future work will investigate VCE’s impact on personnel turnover and core staff’s satisfaction with their departments and leadership.


We sincerely thank the past and present members of the VCE planning committee: Hunter Amonett, Hastings Benitone, David Baughman, Benjamin Bennett, Kemberlee Bonnet, Robert Carnahan, Selene Colon, David Flaherty, Erin Gribben, Mary Heath, Celeste Jones-Paris, Brittany Matlock, Anthony Tharp, Paige Vinson, and Kevin Weller. We would also like to acknowledge our wonderful speakers for generously donating their time and talents to serve our core personnel. A special thank you to Susan Meyn (Associate Vice President for Research Resources, VUMC) for her support of the planning team’s vision for Core Exchange. Our events were made possible by the generous financial support of the VUMC Office of Research, VU School of Medicine Basic Sciences Dean’s Office, Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center (P30DK020593), Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Research Center (P30DK058404), the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (P30CA068485). Surveys were generated and distributed using REDCap (UL1TR000445). Figure 2 was created with

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