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Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Medical Center Memorandum of Understanding


  • All Northwestern University investigators who also hold salaried VA appointments must complete a Memorandum of Understanding when applying for NIH funding. The investigators’ home department is responsible for maintaining a copy of the current MoU. NIH requires that the MoU be updated at least annually.
  • A copy of the most recent VA Memorandum of Understanding (VA-MOU) must be submitted to Sponsored Research at the time of proposal submission and with each non-competing renewal application. SR will also request a copy of the most current VA-MOU at the time just-in-time material is requested for NIH applications.

Instructions for completing specific sections of the MoU

Effective Date

  • MOU’s are active for one year and must be updated annually.
  • If significant changes occur during the calendar year (i.e., changes in VA appointment terms or significant changes in research commitments), then a revised MoU should be prepared at that time.


  • Indicate the investigator’s VA title (“Staff Physician” for most) and Northwestern University faculty title (e.g., “Associate Professor”, “Assistant Professor”) where requested.

Effort Percentages

  • Effort percentages should be based on a reasonable, justifiable work week, representing the professional responsibilities of the applicable appointments for the investigator. In most instances, a 65-hour work week should be used.
  • VA MOU Effort Calculator Spreadsheet
    1. Total VA effort (A) is based on a 40-hour work week; therefore, the percentage of total professional effort dedicated to VA activity can be obtained by multiplying the individual’s VA appointment (in 8ths) by 40 hours, and then dividing by the individual’s reasonable work week estimate. For example, an individual with a 5/8 VA appointment and a 65-hour work week would have a total VA effort of 38% ((5/8*40)/65).
    2. Total Northwestern University (NU)/Northwestern Medicine (NM) effort (B) should equal 100% minus total VA effort.
    3. In order to delineate between “Sponsored Research” and other effort within the VA and NU/NM categories, general estimates of effort, based on commitments, should be used. The following sources of information may be helpful in determining these commitments:
      • VA Sponsored Research (C) – award documentation for research projects administered by the VA (e.g., VA Merit awards)
      • VA Clinical activities (D) – VA employment agreement
      • University Teaching, university administration, and service (E) – teaching schedule, list of committees and other administrative responsibilities, other non-sponsored activities
      • University Sponsored Research (F) – the individual’s inventory of commitments on active sponsored projects, including clinical trials. Since the basis for effort in this VA MoU differs from the basis used for effort commitments made in University proposals and awards (total professional effort vs. total institutional effort), a conversion must be performed to express commitments on active University sponsored projects in total professional effort terms*. The sum of the effort commitments on the individual’s active sponsored projects should be multiplied by (B) in order to determine the percent for (F). A separate spreadsheet has been provided to assist you with this conversion.
      • NM Clinical activities (G) – clinic schedule (if applicable)

      An Associate Professor has a 2/8 VA appointment, and two existing NIH grants through Northwestern, each with a 30% effort commitment (based on total institutional [NU+NM] effort). The VA commitment is for clinical activities only. He spends, on average, 10 hours/week on NM clinical activities. The remainder of his time is spent on University administrative activities. His VA MoU should be completed as follows:

Total effort dedicated to:

The percentages were determined as follows:

  1. (A) = 2/8 * 40 / 65 = 15%
  2. (B) = 100% – 15% = 85%
  3. (C) = 0% (VA responsibilities are clinical activity only)
  4. (D) = 15% – 0% = 15%
  5. (F) = (30%+30%) * 85% = 51%
  6. (G) = 10/65 = 15% (average clinical schedule is 10 hours/week)
  7. (E) = 85% – 51% – 15% = 19%

Note that, in this example, (E) is derived as the balance of available University/NM effort. This calculated amount should reasonably reflect actual teaching, administrative and service responsibilities.

Teaching, university administration, service   (E) 19% 19%
Sponsored Research (C) 0% (F) 51% 51%
Clinical activities (D) 15% (G) 15% 30%
Total (A) 15% (B) 85% 100%
  Appointment = 2/8ths    
  VA hours/week = 10    

Department chairs, deans, VA personnel, or others may request details on how the percentages were determined, e.g., the number of hours used as the basis for the total work week. Please retain documentation that supports the MoU, including the completed spreadsheet.

Investigators who have “without compensation” (WOC) or other arrangements with the VA, please work with SR to ensure that your arrangement is appropriately disclosed to research sponsors.


If you have questions while completing this form, please contact: