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Research Service Centers

Development and Administration of Research Service Centers

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) encourages the development of collaborative relationships among faculty around research and academic interests related to the missions of UTHealth. To that end, UTHealth enables academic departments, schools, and the university itself to establish research service centers (RSC) for specific purposes in pursuit of our missions.

This section sets forth guidelines for the development and administration of RSCs. An Institutional policy has been developed to ensure compliance with the Federal cost principles for educational institutions contained in OMB Circular A-21 and UTHealth HOOP Policies. Full text of this policy is available for download.

For additional information please choose from a topic below:

Research Service Center General Guidelines

Research Service Centers are facilities which provide services and technology access, or expertise utilized by many investigators to conduct their research, but which are generally too expensive or specialized for investigators to cost-effectively provide and sustain themselves. 

Research Service Centers offer significant advantage by providing:

  • Access to state-of-the art services and technology,
  • Technical expertise to ensure experienced use of equipment and enhance data quality,
  • Increased dependability of equipment,
  • Reduced duplication of equipment

Research Service Centers are not intended to subsidize the costs of research. Rather, they are intended to enable operational efficiencies which will both i) drive the costs of providing the services down (with the cost savings being passed on to the users) and ii) assure a much broader availability of services to the research community.

User fees should therefore be established to reflect the real costs of performing the services provided. These costs include:    

  • Labor costs for operating the instrumentation
  • Materials and supplies consumed in providing the services
  • Normal operating and maintenance costs of the instrumentation

In most cases, the departments provide operational subsidies to the Research Service Centers costs to allow lower rates for university faculty. In all cases, direct costs must be calculated in the budget and departmental subsidies can be reflected to indicate service fee reductions.

Research Service Centers will be established and operated in accordance with Uniform Guidance and can only be established after approval from the Office of Research, Office of Finance and Sponsored Projects Administration.  They will be managed and operated on break even basis; accumulated surpluses and deficits should not exceed 2 months annual expenses.

The purpose of a Research Service Center is to provide Goods or Services to sponsored awards. Therefore they must adhere to the provisions of the OMB Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200. The Uniform Guidance is the Federal regulation governing the University regarding the charging of facility and administration and direct costs to federally financed sponsored activities. Section 200.468 of the Uniform Guidance states:

  • The costs of services provided by highly complex or specialized facilities operated by the institution, such as computers, wind tunnels, and reactors are allowable, provided the charges for the services meet the conditions of either subsection 200.468(b) or 200.468(c) and, in addition, take into account any items of income or Federal financing that qualify as applicable credits under subsection 200.406 of this Circular.
  • The costs of such services, when material, must be charged directly to applicable awards based on actual usage of the services on the basis of a schedule of rates or established methodology that
  • Does not discriminate against federally supported activities of the institution, including usage by the institution for internal purposes, and
  • Is designed to recover only the aggregate costs of the services. The costs of each service shall consist normally of both its direct costs and its allocable share of all F&A costs. Rates shall be adjusted at least biennially, and shall take into consideration over/under applied costs of the previous period(s).
  • Where the costs incurred for a service are not material, they may be allocated as F&A costs.
  • Under some extraordinary circumstances, where it is in the best interest of the Federal Government and the institution to establish alternative costing arrangements, such arrangements may be worked out with the cognizant Federal agency for indirect costs.

Application for Establishing a Research Service Center

Please complete the following components and submit them to


Annual reporting for Established Research Service Centers

In order to maintain all Research Service Centers in compliance with the Uniform Guidance, annual budgets and rate schedules must be submitted through the Office of Research.

Each year, all existing Small Research Service Centers with an annual operating budget under $30,000 are expected to:

Each year, all existing Research Service Centers with an annual operating budget between $30,000 and $1 million are expected to:

Each year, all existing Research Service Centers with an annual operating budget over $1 million (also called Specialized Service Facilities or SSF’s) are expected to:

In addition, Research Service Centers should follow the subsequent best practices:

  • Adhere to UTHealth Research Service Center HOOP Policy
  • Hold an annual Users meeting or distribute an annual survey to users
  • Reevaluate rates through cost analysis and market comparison (generally occurs as part of budget submission process)
  • Attend quarterly Research Service Center meetings at the University to stay abreast of policy changes
  • Maintain best practices with External Customers

For more information, please contact the