Keck Research Space Guidelines


These guidelines apply to assignment of space in the Keck School, excluding CHLA. The guidelines apply to space used primarily for research; they do not apply to space used primarily for education or clinical care. The guidelines assign space to an investigator, defined as a faculty member in the Keck School of Medicine who has an active research program that (a) brings in extramural funding and/or (b) is supported by start-up funds following a recent recruitment.


1. The primary metric for allocation of space to an investigator will be team size, assessed as paid full-time equivalents (FTEs). This approach places the main emphasis on people, not dollars in the assignment of research space.

  • 1 full-time faculty member = 1 faculty office
  • 1 paid staff/student FTE for wet lab research = 150 assignable square feet (ASF) of wet laboratory space
  • 1 paid staff/student FTE for dry lab research = 75 ASF of dry laboratory space

2. Space is not free – it costs the school and university real money. Thus, the school cannot provide space to investigators who do not regularly bring in indirect costs to support their space. Indirect cost recovery will be considered in assigning space, but as a minimum rather than as the primary metric.

  • An investigator is expected to bring in at least $120 of indirect costs per ASF of wet and/or dry research space.
  • Any investigator who brings in less than this amount of indirect costs will be reviewed to determine whether there are special circumstances that warrant allocation of space in excess of this metric. If there are no special circumstances, space charges may apply or assigned space may be reduced.

Principles for Implementation of the Research Space Guidelines

1. These guidelines take effect January 1, 2013. They will be used by the leadership of the Keck School, including the dean, institute directors, department chairs and their designees, to assign research space. The guidelines may be revised from time-to-time at the discretion of the Dean of the Keck School of Medicine, who is ultimately responsible for space assignment in the School.

2. Space allocation will be reviewed at least annually and, if indicated by metrics, adjusted to assure adequate allocation and efficient use of space on an ongoing basis.

3. Individuals who count in determining staff/student FTEs in an investigator’s research program are:

  • Paid research staff
  • Paid post-doctoral research scholars (fellows and research associates)
  • Paid graduate research students
  • Paid undergraduate research students
  • FTEs will be determined by USC payroll records; direct surveys may be employed to assure accurate assignment of paid FTEs. FTEs will be calculated on an annual basis (e.g., a postdoctoral student who works at 100% effort for six months would count as 0.50 FTE). Visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows who are paid directly by outside sources will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

4. For calculation of assignable square feet:

  • Wet lab space, support space, dry lab space, and vivarium space that is dedicated solely to one PI counts toward a PI’s assignable research space.
  • Faculty offices, conference rooms, break rooms, core laboratory facilities and administrative space do not count toward a PI’s assignable research space.

5. For assessment of indirect cost recovery relevant to space assignment:

  • Indirect expenditures during the prior two fiscal years count. Grants obtained or lost near the end of the assessment period may be considered on case-by-case basis.
  • Indirect costs from planned, hoped for or unfunded grants will not be counted.

6. Special Cases

  • Junior faculty members on start-up packages generally do not have grants that bear indirect costs. In general, they will be allocated space for 4 FTEs (600 ASF wet or 300 ASF dry) in addition to their faculty office during their start-up period, which is generally defined in the individual’s letter of offer.
  • A faculty member whose research program has no FTEs or no indirect cost-bearing grants for >24 months will be allocated a faculty office, but no wet or dry research space. The faculty member will be assigned laboratory space according to the established metrics at such time as s/he obtains indirect-bearing research grants and related FTEs.
  • Programs that are highly instrument-intensive (e.g., genomics programs) may require more space per FTE than indicated by the metrics.
  • For multi-investigator grants, credit for FTEs and indirect costs may be split between/among investigators according to the distribution of work and upon mutual agreement of the investigators. However, FTEs and indirect costs will be counted only once.