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Urban Myth of Grantsmanship

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Urban Myth of Grantsmanship

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  1. Grant Writing for SuccessApplication Tips Roger G. Sorensen, Ph.D., M.P.A.National Institute on Drug AbuseUS-Ireland R&D Partnership, NIHNovember 5, 2008

  2. Urban Myth of Grantsmanship It is not a process by which bad ideas get transformed into good ones … Grant Writing for Success … rather, it is more often the case of a good idea YOU disguised as a bad one.

  3. Principles of Success Understand the peer review process Understand the agency mission Every Institute or Center is different! Secure collaborators (mentors) to complement your expertise and experience Don’t compete … collaborate! Learn and practice the skills of writing applications for grant funds

  4. Grant Writing for Success Writing the Application • Start process early • Seek advice from colleagues • Use the NIH website ( • Talk to your NIH Program Official(s) • Craft your good idea • Follow application instructions carefully • Remember review criteria

  5. Remember … Before you start Gather Information: Talk to Colleagues and Program Staff Read instructions for application form SF 424 R & R or PHS 398 Know your audience Which peer review committee is most likely to get your application? Identify Collaborators

  6. Identify Collaborators NIH Web Resources • CRISP • Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects • all funded NIH grant awards • Bioinformatics • Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI) • Bioengineering • NIBIB/BECON Bioengineering Programs



  9. CRISP Results – FY2008





  14. The Formula for Writing a Successful Grant Application

  15. Good Idea Does it address an important problem? Will scientific knowledge be advanced? Does it build upon or expand current knowledge? Is it feasible … to implement? to investigate?

  16. Good Grantsmanship • Grant writing is a learned skill • Writing grant applications, standard operating protocols and manuals of procedures that get approved are learned skills • Writing manuscripts that get published in peer reviewed journals is a learned skill • Grantsmanship is a full time job • Learn about the grant application process

  17. Good Grantsmanship Getting Feedback • Show your draft application to a colleague • Show your draft application to a colleague who does not already know what you intend to do • Show your draft application to a colleague who is not your best friend

  18. Good Grantsmanship • Your draft reviewers need to understand • What you intend to do • Why you believe it is important to do • Exactly how you are going to do it • If they don’t get it, you must revise your application • Leave enough time to make revisions

  19. Good Presentation • Read the application instructions carefully • Read the application instructions carefully • Don’t forget … ... read the application instructions carefully 3 Simple Steps:

  20. Good Presentation Organize the Research Plan to answer 4 essential questions: What do you intend to do? Why is the work important? What has already been done? How are you going to do the work?

  21. Good Presentation Research Plans • Introduction (resubmission or revision only) • Specific Aims • Background and Significance • Preliminary Studies/Progress Report • Research Design and Methods

  22. Good Presentation Address the 5 review criteria Significance Approach Innovation Investigator Environment

  23. Good Presentation • Significance:Does the study address an important problem? How will scientific knowledge be advanced? • Approach:Are design and methods well-developed and appropriate? Are problem areas addressed? • Innovation:Are there novel concepts or approaches? Are the aims original and innovative? • Investigator:Is the investigator appropriately trained? • Environment:Does the scientific environment contribute to the probability of success? Are there unique features of the scientific environment?

  24. Good Presentation Research Plans • Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan • Foreign Institutions • Consortium/Contractual Arrangement • - Budget

  25. Collaborators Multiple Principal Investigators • NIH grant applications may identify more than one Principal Investigator (PI).  • Multiple PIs share the responsibility and authority for • leading and directing the project • A “Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan” must included: • A rationale for choosing a multiple PD/PI approach,  • Description of the governance and organizational structure • of the leadership team and research project, • Designation of the roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the PD/PIs and other collaborators. Establishment of Multiple Principal Investigator Awards for the Support of Team Science Projects (

  26. Collaborators Foreign or Foreign Component • International applicants must describe: • special resources or characteristics of the research project • (e.g., human subjects, animals, disease, equipment, and techniques), • whether similar research is being done in the United States, and • whether there is a need for additional research in this area • See SF424 (R&R) Section 4.4: Other Project Information Component

  27. Collaborators Consortium Budget • All budget requests to NIH for research applications use: • the modular format when requesting direct costs of $250,000 or less each year • the non-modular format when requesting direct costs greater than $250,000 in any year • NOTE: Consortium F&A costs are not factored • into the modular direct cost limit

  28. Preparing a Realistic NIH Budget:One perspective

  29. Sections A&B:Personnel Determine the amount of time (effort) that you will spend on this project. Calendar, Academic, or Summer Months Determine the number, qualifications and amount of time needed for other personnel Technicians Postdoctoral Fellows Graduate Students Undergraduate Students 33

  30. Section C: Do you need new equipment? If you need additional equipment, this is the time to consider it. Equipment should be project specific – be sure to include a written justification. Most equipment is requested during the first year of the grant. If you use a modular budget format, you may ask for extra module(s) to cover equipment. 34

  31. Section D: Travel funds This amount is usually small: $1,000 - 2,000 per meeting per individual per year Generally supports one meeting per year for 2-3 individuals 35

  32. Section E: Participant/Trainee Support Costs Unless stated in the FOA, this section should be left blank for NIH applications Include tuition remission under Section F: Other Direct Costs 36

  33. Section F: Other Direct Costs Estimate the materials and supplies needed for the personnel involved It may be reasonable to estimate a supply budget of ~$12,000–15,000/year for each FTE This number will vary depending on the nature of the research proposed. Animal intensive studies and studies involving human subjects tend to be more costly. In silico studies tend to be less costly for supplies. 37

  34. Section F: Other Direct Costs This category also includes funds needed for things such as: Publication costs Equipment maintenance Consortium/subcontracts Tuition remission. 38

  35. Add it all Up – Year 1 Cal Req. Fringe Funds Mon Salary Benefits Req. A. Senior/Key Person PI 2 15,333 4,293 19,626 B. Other Personnel Postdoc Assoc 12 38,976 10,913 49,889 Grad Student 12 20,772 5,454 26,226 Grad Student 12 20,772 5,454 26,226 C. Equipment – Microscope 19,000 D. Travel - (2 meetings) 4,000 E. Participant/Trainee usually left blank F. Other Direct Costs Materials/Supplies 25,533 Publication Costs 1,500 Subaward/Consortium/Contractual costs none Tuition Remission 7,000 G. Total Direct Costs 179,000 39

  36. Add it all up Calculate the direct costs for the first year. (for example, Year 1 budget = $179,000) Calculate the direct costs for subsequent years taking into account salary increases and changes in funds requested for equipment. Year 2 = $164,800 Year 3 = $169,744 Year 4 = $174,836 Year 5 = $180,081 40

  37. Do I need to submit a modular budget? Calculate the total direct costs for all years Total direct costs for 5 years = $868,461 Divide total by the number of years requested Average direct costs = $173,692/yr Investigator-initiated R01s up to $250,000/yr must use modular format 41

  38. Convert Your Average Direct Costs to the Modular Format Round up to the next module (number divisible by $25,000) In the example, $173,692/yr rounds up to $175,000/yr No yearly increases for inflation First year may include additional modules for one-time expenses like equipment In the example, add one additional module to year 1 = $200,000 42

  39. R01 Budget with Consortium Costs Prepare an itemized budget for the parent site Prepare an itemized budget for each consortium/subcontract site, including: Personnel – salary and benefits Travel – professional or investigator meeting Other Direct Costs Such as Materials and Supplies Total Direct Costs = $38,300 43

  40. Total Consortium Costs Consortium Direct Costs = $38,300 Consortium F&A consortium institution (at 50%) = $19,150 Consortium Total Costs = $57,450 * Remember you may round to the nearest $1,000 44

  41. Add it all up Should you request a modular budget? 45

  42. R01 Grant with Consortium Budget Submit as a modular budget when requesting Direct Costs at or below $250,000 per year… … excluding Consortium F&A costs. 46

  43. Modular Grant with Consortium Budget Year 1 – Itemized Total DC = $256,124 minus Consortium F&A = $ 19,150 Year 1 – Itemized DC excluding F&A= $236,974 Year 2 – Itemized DC excluding F&A = $224,513 Year 3 – Itemized DC excluding F&A = $231,249 Year 4 – Itemized DC excluding F&A = $238,186 Year 5 – Itemized DC excluding F&A = $245,332 Avg Direct Cost per yr (excluding F&A) = $235,251 Round up to the next module = $250,000 47

  44. Record Modular Budget with Consortium: PHS 398 Modular Budget, Period 1 A. Direct CostsFunds Requested ($) *Direct Cost less Consortium F&A$250,000 Consortium F&A$ 19,150 *Total Direct Costs$269,150 The total direct costs requested are allowed to exceed the modular maximum ($250,000) by the amount of F&A associated with the subcontract. 48

  45. Good Presentation Provide well-focused research plan Keep specific aims simple … and specific Link hypotheses to specific aims Explain method to test every hypothesis Don’t wander from the main theme A conceptual model can clarify ideas

  46. Good Presentation Be realistic … not overly ambitious Discuss potential problem areas Discuss possible solutions Explain rationale for your decisions Be explicit Reviewers cannot read your mind … Don’t assume they know what you intend