The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville

Office of Research Support

The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (GSM), Office of Research Support (ORS) serves as an important resource for GSM Faculty, Fellows, Residents, and staff participating in research activities. We provide support and guidance to facilitate the continued advancement of GSM research programs. For clinical studies, we ensure that the research being conducted yields high-quality data and adheres to local and federal regulations associated with the use of human research subjects and/or the use of their data.

Services and/or training available for GSM Faculty, Residents, Fellows, and staff engaging in Translational and Clinical Investigator-Initiated Research include the following:

Clinical Research

Translational Science

Grants and Contracts


Jennifer Ferris, MSHS, CCRC
Director, Office of Research Support
3rd floor Research Building
Office 306
Phone: (865) 305-7975

Jennifer Ferris is the Graduate School of Medicine Assistant Director of Research, and the Director of the Office of Research Support (ORS). Jennifer earned an undergraduate degree in Communication and Rhetoric from King University. She later received a Master of Science in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Clinical Research Administration from George Washington University, focusing on drug and device development, clinical trials, and FDA procedures and compliance regulations. Over the last 20 years she managed almost 100 investigator-initiated and sponsored clinical research projects including phase 1-4 clinical trials and observational, quality-of-life, and outcomes studies.

Jennifer provides supports for the Director of Research to ensure oversight and guidance for research operations at GSM. Functions as the chief administrative and programmatic contact for the Research Center and Office of Research Support; provides consultation on grant preparation; Investigator-Initiated Clinical Research, IRB and FDA compliance, and provides GSM with information regarding grant policies and procedures, as well as UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) research polices. Assists PI(s) with grant application procedures and coordinates all trainings for our researchers with the Office of Biosafety, Radiation Safety, Environmental Health and Safety and clinical trial compliance.

Melissa Weaver
Research Admin Coordinator I
3rd floor Research building
Office 310
Phone: (865) 305-6181

Melissa Weaver provides management and coordination of the administrative and day-to-day operational activities for the research infrastructure and programs for the UTGSM. Maintains records of expenses and departmental funds. Coordinates compliance reviews, facility inspections, equipment removal and storage, and assists with Cayuse grant submissions. Melissa also works with the Assistant Director of Research to organize and prepare for Investigator-Initiated Research execution.

Brenda Chaves
Research Financial Associate II
3rd floor Research building
Office 303
Phone: (865) 305-3897

Brenda Chaves coordinates financial day-to-day operational activities for research infrastructure and programs for the UTGSM. She assists research leadership with the management and oversight of research account expenses, departmental funds, and other fiscal related activities for the research program.

Tracy Walker
Research Study Coordinator
3rd Floor Research Building
Office 3030

Tracy Walker assists faculty with clinical research activities including, but not limited to, the submission and management of regulatory paperwork for the Institutional Review Board (IRB); the preparation and maintenance of study files and essential trial documents; the coordination of operational components of research studies; organizes recruitment, screening, and consenting of participants, and coordinates the implementation of study protocols and record-keeping for GSM Investigator-Initiated Clinical Research Studies.

Research Data Coordinator (Coming soon)
3rd Floor Research Building

This position, under the direction of the GSM Assistant Director of Research, will be responsible for the management of clinical research study data and specific database entry for Investigator-Initiated Research. This position will develop Patient Source and EMR Extraction Documents for retrospective and prospective Investigator-Initiated research, transcribe data into appropriate databases, conduct routine reviews for data discrepancy, query generation, resolution, and reconciliation, and develop data management plans that adhere to 21 CFR Part 11 (Electronic Records) & 45 CFR Part 46 (protection of human subjects in research) that facilitates the collection of quality research data for Investigator-Initiated Research.

Ronnie Roberts
Director, Graduate School of Medicine Animal Facility
Research Building, Basement Level

Ronnie Roberts oversees the AALAC-I-accredited vivarium at the GSM. Responsible for the maintenance of the facility and ensures the health and well-being of the animals housed therein.





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1924 Alcoa Highway
Knoxville, Tennessee 37920 | 865-305-9290

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