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Grants and Grant Writing

Grants and Grant Writing. M.E. Maguire. Outline. Where do grants come from? The process of grant application and review The review Grant writing suggestions Review an actual grant Respond to the review of that grant. Why get grants?. To be able to do your own research

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Grants and Grant Writing

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  1. Grants and Grant Writing M.E. Maguire

  2. Outline • Where do grants come from? • The process of grant application and review • The review • Grant writing suggestions • Review an actual grant • Respond to the review of that grant

  3. Why get grants? • To be able to do your own research • Feed your curiosity • Get tenure (or keep your company afloat)

  4. Who do you get grants from? • FEDERAL $$$$$ • NIH • NSF • DOD • DOE • DARPA • STATE $ • LOCAL $ • Other NATIONAL Non-Profit $$ • Pharmaceutical and Biotech Firms $-$$$

  5. Federal Grants • NIH • Basic biomedical research – NIGMSonly • Disease related – All other institutes • Some $$ from equipment centers and infrastructure grants • NSF • Basic research in all fields of science • To strengthen “structure” and “participation” in the scientific enterprise

  6. Federal Grants • DOD • Breast cancer • Bioterrorism (also NIH) • Applications (especially weaponry in the broadest context) • DOE • Microbial genomes • Bioremediation • Energy generation

  7. Federal Grants • DARPA • Defense Advanced Research Project Agency • Mostly contract research, not a grant • Generous funding • Rapid, continual progress, closely monitored • Future years are not guaranteed funding • Much is technology oriented, but significant amount is biological • Always cutting edge, speculative, pie in the sky, risky • Very often will fund things that they think have less than 1% chance of succeeding or that are demonstration of principle • “We expect you to fail” • “We hope you get filthy rich”

  8. Other Grants • State agencies • Tend to be for facilities or specific types of enterprises • Very targeted • Tend to be consortia of institutions • Usually only 1-2 years funding • Some politics

  9. Local Agencies • Local Foundations • Small, not many • Tend to be extremely targeted

  10. National Non-Profit • Disease-related (usually) • AHA • ACS • Kidney • AHA/ACS will support basic research if clearly connected to a disease process • Often favor younger investigators • Less $$$/grant than NIH • Howard Hughes • They find you • Other National Foundations • Eclectic, usually very targeted • Sometimes good source of fellowships • Do not neglect. If your area matches a foundation’s, can be long-term support • Ellison Foundation • Global Infectious Disease or Aging • “Tell us why NIH won’t fund this.”

  11. Pharmaceutical & Biotech • Drug trials or testing • Drug discovery • Some aspects of basic research • See CVs of Piomelli and Penning • Can build long term relationships • Modest $$$ ($20-100K) • Entrepreneurial and/or aggressive approach helps

  12. NIH and NSF • Different cultures • NIH tends to be more targeted, focused research • NSF will support more global approaches to an informational or methodological problem • Phosphoproteome • NIH is much more money usually • NSF does not like to support PI salary • NSF requires you to consider broader aspects of the research • Educational • Outreach • K-12 • Teachers

  13. NIH Grants • Types • R01 – Individual Investigator Grants • R03 – Small Grant Program • R15 – AREA grants • R21 – Innovative Research Grants • P01 – Program Project • Centers and SCORs • K Awards

  14. NIH Grants • R01 – Individual Investigator Grants • The basic grant • 3-5 years of support • Up to $250,000/yr, no detailed budget • Can ask for more, but requires justification • About 9,000/year new/competing renewals • Becoming less and less a percentage of total NIH funds • Most NSF grants would be similar to R01’s

  15. NIH Grants • R03 – Small Grant Program • Limited funding for a short period of time • Pilot or feasibility studies • Secondary analysis of existing data • Small, self-contained research projects • Development of research methodology • Development of new research technology • Up to two years • Up to $50,000 per year

  16. NIH Grants • R15 - AREA Grants • To stimulate research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the Nation's research scientists, but historically have not been major recipients of NIH support. • Small research projects • Feasibility and pilot studies • Provide data preliminary to a traditional research project grant. • < $35,000/yr, total of $75,000 for up to 3 years • Highly competitive

  17. NIH Grants • R21 – Innovative Research Grants • Innovative, high-risk research, requiring preliminary testing or development • Exploration of new approaches or concepts • Development of new technologies or methods • Development of data upon which significant future research may be built, i.e., the data should have a high level of impact on the field • Example: New models in unusual organisms • Two years funding • Generally $100-150,000/yr • Unfortunately, study sections tend to be too conservative

  18. NIH Grants • P01 – Program Project • Group of R01’s thematically related • Synergism among investigators should be demonstrated • Slightly less $$/grant that R01 • But can have administrative and facility cores • Virtually always 5 years • Increasing percent of NIH budget • University administrators love these • More indirect costs and slightly longer term

  19. NIH Grants • SCORs and Centers • Disease related – Ireland Cancer Center or CFAR • Facility Related (less common) • Genomics/Proteomics • SCOR tends to be a more disease related program project grant • Centers are more comprehensive • Clinical • Basic • Translational • Patient care sometimes

  20. NIH Grants • K Awards • Transitional or new direction • Somewhat advanced training • Beginning investigators • Often abused

  21. NIH Grants – The Process • Write it and submit it • PHS398 form • Three deadlines per year • February 1, June 1, October 1 • Avoid February 1 if possible – fiscal year issues • Competitive renewals due 1 month later • The big warehouse

  22. NIH Grants – The Process • Center for Scientific Review (CSR) • Not an institute, solely for reviews • The “Review Officer” • Assigns Institute and Study Section • You can ask for specific Institute and SS • Usually granted, not always • Switches after a previous review are granted much less often, frowned on • Don’t shop for SSs

  23. NIH Grants – Study Sections • IRGs (Initial Review Groups) • Several study sections under each IRG • AIDS and Related Research (8 SSs) • Biochemical Sciences • Infectious Diseases and Microbiology • Integrative, Functional and Cognitive Neuroscience • Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Neuroscience • Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging, and Bioengineering

  24. NIH Grants – Study Sections • Study Section function • 12-20 members (3-4 year terms) • Often an equal number of ad hoc members • Ad hocs are not permanent members and can serve only once per fiscal year • Mechanism to ensure adequate coverage • 99% meet in Washington at a hotel • Airfare, per diem and $100/day honorarium

  25. NIH Grants – Study Sections • Study Section function • Meet 1-3 days • 30-120 grants, average 90 • 20 min per grant • Review Science only • Do NOT make funding decisions • Confidentiality is very important • Reviewers should never discuss grants with anyone outside SS meeting • NIH is very strict about this

  26. NIH Grants – Study Sections • Reviewers • Usually 3 • Two primary (Must write full critique) • One reader (May write a critique, usually short) • Not necessarily an expert in the field • Absolutely critical that you explain the science clearly • Triage • At beginning of meeting, nominate grants for “Not competitive” or “Unscored”, i.e., bottom 50% • If anyone objects, grant is fully discussed • Triaged grants get a full written review, just no discussion

  27. NIH Grants – Study Sections • Reviewers • Conflicted members leave room • Reviewers state a suggested score and then read/paraphrase their critiques • Open floor for discussion • Sometimes brief • Sometimes lengthy • Discussion reflected ONLY in the summary • Pink Sheets • Written critiques are sent verbatim, no editing • Summary written by Exec Sec’y of SS

  28. NIH Grants – Scoring • Grants are scored on a 1.0-5.0 basis • 1.0 is best • Average score is converted to 100-500 scale • Get numerical score plus a percentile ranking • Percentile is your score averaged against all grants reviewed at the current SS plus the two previous meetings of that SS • Funding is rare for scores greater than 200 or percentiles greater than 25. • Many institutes are funding between 15th and 20th percentile

  29. NIH Grants • Institute Councils • The second step in the process is to present all scored grants to the “Institute Advisory Council” • Mostly scientists, generally well established • Some lay people, few administrators • The Council is the group that actually approves funding • They do not review the science • Their mission is to make sure the total array of grants being funded fulfills the mission of that particular Institute

  30. NIH Grants • Institute Councils • Institute Program Officers each present their “portfolio” of grants to the Council with their recommendations for funding • Funding is strictly by percentile up to a point • The last couple of percentiles are nebulous • Those grants just a few percentile points below the “payline” are reviewed by the P.O.’s and Council for “relevance” to Institute mission • Council can and sometimes does choose to fund a proposal that is slightly below the “payline” if they deem it of more relevance/importance to the Institute’s mission

  31. NIH Grants - Help • Two sources of help • Study Section Executive Secretary • Program Officer

  32. NIH Grants - Help • Study Section Executive Secretary • A scientist, but now an administrator • Handles all grant materials and paperwork regarding a review • Does not actually preside over the SS • One member is named Chair • Responsible for writing a summary of the decision and discussion of the grant • This is the most important part of your review • Conscientious reviewers will slightly revise their critiques to reflect discussion, changes, etc. • Most don’t, but becoming more common • Therefore, the written critiques are what the reviewer thought before they got there • Can call/email Exec Sec’y to get more comments • However, they often don’t remember your individual grant so sometimes helps, sometimes not

  33. NIH Grants - Help • Program Officer • The person in the assigned institute responsible for administering your grant • Your friend! • Cultivate your P.O. • Be nice to your P.O., never argue or gripe • Often attend SS meetings and thus have insight into what went on and can help you read between the lines of the critique

  34. NIH Grants - Help • Program Officer • Has a portfolio • Likes to build a portfolio of excellent grants from stable, excellent investigators • Can sometimes get you interim funding or can push your grant if you’re near the payline • Can offer advice on revisions

  35. NSF Grants • NSF is very similar • Main differences are • P.I. salary frowned on • NOT medically/disease related • Smaller study sections, less biomedical and more biological expertise • NSF also sends grants to several outside reviewers • You get to recommend them • Two reviewers at SS, plus outside reviews • Outside reviews are mostly used as a check on the two reviewers • Did they miss something? • Provide expertise on a particular method or issue

  36. NSF Grants • Not numerically scored • Categories • Outstanding • Excellent • Good • Acceptable/Average • Not scientifically sound/valid • Within each category, grants are ranked by “ordering” • Whole SS is involved even if conflicted • Reviewers write summary during SS • Must be approved by other reviewer

  37. NSF Grants • SS heads combine Exec Sec’y and P.O. functions of NIH • They make the funding decisions within certain guidelines • They can modify budget and length

  38. Does the Review Process Work? • Yes! • My 95% rule • On the rare occasions it doesn’t, you do have avenues of appeal, almost always through your Program Officer and/or Exec. Sec’y • They “trashed” my grant is NOT a valid reason to appeal

  39. GRANT WRITING • There are NO absolute rules • Lots of variations, most are valid • Essential points • Important BIOLOGICALproblem • Good, hopefully innovative approach • Convince them you’re competent

  40. GRANT WRITING • Organization • The first page and abstract are crucial • Most SS members read only the abstract • Your reviewers have formed an opinion about the grant solely from your statement of the problem and aims on the first page

  41. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Introduction • Not an exhaustive review of the literature • Selectively review what’s relevant to your ideas • Highlight what isn’t known and why it should be • State a succinct summary of the issue(s) at end of Introduction

  42. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Preliminary Data/Progress Report • Data that defines the problem or defines the importance of the problem • Data that demonstrates feasibility of approach • Again summarize problem at end • Maguire’s N=1 rule • Data in your papers versus data in a grant proposal

  43. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Preliminary Data/Progress Report • Does not have to be exhaustive • Too many figures often counterproductive • Make the figures BIG • And make sure they print well • Write figure legends that explain the experiment • State importance of the experiment in the text

  44. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Experimental • Rationale – Why? • Experiments – What? • Anticipated Results • And their interpretation • I expect that this experiment will show…. This would imply that…..However, if the results show that……, this could mean that…….. • Alternative Approaches • Alternative methods to get the data you want • Alternative approaches to the question itself

  45. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Aims • Aims build on each other but are not necessarily dependent on each other • Don’t leave yourself open to an experiment in Aim 1 such that if you don’t get the expected result, Aims 2 and 3 are now irrelevant or not feasible or not important

  46. GRANT WRITING • Organization • Aims • Maguire’s rules of grant writing • Aim 1 should be interesting but straightforward • Aim 2 should be somewhat more innovative and have just a bit of risk • Aim 3 can be more innovative and riskier but not off the wall • If you have a really, really “cute” experiment, just do it, don’t put it in the grant

  47. GRANT WRITING • During the Review Process • Submitting Additional Data • BRIEF!!!!!! • To the point • Important • Demonstrate feasibility of an approach • Crucial piece of data supporting hypothesis

  48. GRANT WRITING • During the Review Process • Submitting Additional Data • Submit 5-6 weeks before SS meets • 7 complete copies • No more that 2 pages of text and 1-2 figures, preferably less. • The data in this figure demonstrate/show that…… This supports the idea that X is connected to Y, thus showing feasibility/supporting hypothesis of Aim X • Reviewers are NOT obligated to read or to consider this additional data • Most do, but they aren’t obligated. • Most additional data submitted in my experience isn’t very important, or its importance isn’t explained well

  49. GRANT WRITING • Revising a Grant • The reviewers are ALWAYS right • The reviewers have ALWAYS given you good ideas and constructive criticism • If the reviewers didn’t understand something or misinterpreted something, it’s usually YOUR fault • Usually, reviewers really are right. Listen to them • You don’t have to actually do the experiments they suggest • Keep your replies to reviewers positive and brief • Just say “These were the main criticisms, I’ve revised these sections to answer them, and I’ve rewritten the entire grant anyway”

  50. GRANT WRITING • Grammar and Spelling • Get it right!!!!!!!!!!! • Make it readable • Space • Headings

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