Introduction to Grant Writing: How to Win a Research Grant Food for Thought Thomas T.H. Wan, Ph.D., MHS Professor & Associate Dean for Research Director, Public Affairs Doctoral Program College of Health and Public Affairs University of Central Florida
NINR NIA NIAAA NIAID (allergy & infectious disease) NIAMS (arthritis, muscular. & skin diseases) NCI NICHD NCCAM (complementary & alternative medicine) NLM (Library of Medicine NIDCD (deafness & communication disorders) NIDCR (dental) NIDDK (Diabetes, digestive & kidney) NIDA NIEHS (environmental) NHLBI NHGRI (human genome) NIMH NINDS( neur. & stroke) I. Introduction: NIH Components
NIH Grant Application Mechanisms • R03 mechanism: Small, pilot research project grant (3 yrs; $50,000 per year) • R21 mechanism: Exploratory & developmental grants in response to a specific program announcement or RFA • R15 mechanism: Academic research enhancement award to facilitate R&D and enrich the research environment & student learning at institutions that are not research intensive. Funding is limited to 36 months. • R01 mechanism: Investigator initiates a research project proposal that may or may not directly respond to a specific program announcement.
The NIH Grants Program • NIH Office of Extramural Research Grants • Information about how the NIH grants process works • NIH web site with instructions for filling out Form 398 • NIH web site with tips for writing grant applications • Advice to investigators submitting clinical research applications • www.grants.gov
NIH Research Initiatives NIH supports research on the biological and behavioral aspects of critical health problems. Interests include: • Effects of life threatening illnesses • Management of symptoms associated with specific diseases or illnesses • Telehealth & bioengineering interventions to address clinical problems • Prevention • Interactions among genetic, environmental and life style factors • Life stage transitions • Measurement instrument development and validation • Health of vulnerable or underserved populations • Health disparities research
Play to Win • Federal Funding • NIH gains more $$ • NIH continues to receive record numbers of submissions (100,000+ applications in FY09) • No one gets NIH award the first time but the workshop will help • Creative collaboration wins • Packing with big names with no substance is a bad idea
Components of Writing a Strong Research Grant Proposal • Research Ideas & Problem Selection • Funding Sources • Rationale Development • Budgeting • Staffing • Design & Analysis Plan • Proposal Review
No Idea is a Bad Idea • Interventions & experimentations • Clinical care management & technologies • Qualitative as important as quantitative studies • Measurement instrument design & validation • Theoretical import & relevance
= Collaborative Research will have a high payoff
III. Sources for Research Funding • National Institutes of Health: www.grants.nih.gov/grants/oer.htm • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: www.rwj.org • National Science Foundation: www.nsf.org • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov • Veterans Health Affairs: www.hsrd.research.va.gov/about/portfolio • Private Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation; Kellogg Foundation; Milbank Memorial Fund, World Bank, Commonwealth Fund, etc.
Other Federal Agencies • CDC: www.cdc.gov • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: www.ahrq.gov • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: www.cms.gov • Health Resources and Services Administration: www.hrsa.gov
Application Form: Grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html Major Components of Research Plan (25 pages) • Specific Aims • Background & Significance • Preliminary Studies/ Progress Report • Research Design and Methods • Human Subjects • Vertebrate Animals • Literature Cited • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements • Consultants
IV. Rationale Development: Review Criteria • Executive Summary or Abstract • Significance: Aims & Objectives • Approach: Conceptual Framework, Design, and Analysis Plan • Innovation: Existing vs. New Paradigms • Investigator(s): Quality of the Team • Support Environment: Collaborative Arrangements • Foreign: Special Needs to Be Fulfilled
The NIH Peer Review Process • NIH Office of Extramural Research • Peer review policy and issues • CSR Scientific Review Policy, Procedure & Review Guidelines • CSR Best Practices • How Scientists are selected for study section service • Guidelines for study section chairs • Role of the SRA • Submission and assignment process
A Video on Peer Review at NIH(http://www.csr.nih.gov/Video/video.asp#nihsites) The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) has produced a video of a mock study section meeting to provide an inside look at how NIH grant applications are reviewed for scientific and technical merit. The video shows how outside experts assess applications and how review meetings are conducted to ensure fairness. The video also includes information on what applicants can do to improve the chances their applications will receive a positive review.
NIH Scientific Study Section:www.csr.nih.gov • Composition of Each Study Section • 20 members plus consultants; NINR Study Section has 35 reviewers on a panel. • All have been previously or currently funded • Mix of social-behavioral scientists & health scientists • 3 review cycles per year • Scientific review & feedback • Council review and funding decision
Winning Points • Significance of the study problems • Salience in science & relevance to the profession • Theoretical soundness & cross-cutting issues • Appropriate design & measurement • Recognition of cultural sensitivity • Low respondent burden • Justifiable budget & staffing
Detractive Points • Inconsistency in conceptual formulation • Lack of attention to details • No pilot work demonstrated • Inadequate review of the literature • Selection of wrong measurement instruments • No clear hypotheses developed • No testable hypotheses • Not a “doable” project • Inadequate analysis plan
A Quote from Mark Twain “The 13 stroke of a clock is not only false of itself, but costs grave doubts on the credibility of the preceding twelves.”
V. Budgeting & Staffing • Itemization • Staffing • Contribution (% effort) to the project • Annualized budget • Direct vs. Indirect Costs • Modular grant budgeting ($250,000) • Justification • Internal Review & Audit
VI. Design & Analytical Plan • Sample Selection & Justification • Hypothesis Testing & power analysis • Statistical Methods • Analysis Plan
Willing to Consider • Complex analytical design & analysis • Benefit cost analysis • Structural equation modeling • Anthopometric studies • Multiple disciplines (medicine, nursing, behavioral/social sciences) • Cultural & ethnic studies • Pure science
The Balance Between Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis Value= Quantity + Quality
VII. Human Subjects: Inclusion of women, minorities, & children Gender Code: G Children Code: C Both genders= 1 Children & adults=1 Only women=2 Only children=2 Only men=3 No children=3 Unknown=4 Unknown=4 Minority Code: M Minority& non-minority=1 Only minority=2 Only non-minority=3 Unknown=4 • Each will be assessed for its scientific acceptability (A) or unacceptability (U).
VIII. Proposal Review Competitive Proposal: to be scored
NIH Scoring Procedures • Significance • Investigators • Innovation • Approach • Environment • Human Subjects
Research Grant Applications: Content of the Peer Review • Description: Summary of the aims, significance, methodology, etc. • Critique: Five major components of a review • Significance: Does this study address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the conceptual and methodological development? • Approach: Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, & analyses adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
Critique (continued) • Innovation: Does the project employ novel concepts or methods? Are the aims original & innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies? • Investigator: Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out the project? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers? • Environment: Is there evidence of institutional support? Do the proposed project take advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements?
PINK SHEET: Reviewers’ Critique • Invitations to revise & resubmit: • PI is urged to redesign more systematic & quantitative behavioral tests; .. a less extensive study might be more appropriate at this time; ..to submit a strictly basic science application until much more is known about the clinical condition. • Blessing-on-thee statements By Reviewers: • The proposal is imaginative and presented in a well-organized manner; the PI would probe both the mechanisms and origins of the observations previously characterized in his/her laboratory; • The reviewers are impressed with the volume of preliminary data presented & with the volume of work proposed; the experimental details are well described; the reviewers are confident that much will be done.
PINK SHEET (CONT.) • Kiss-of-death statements: • The preliminary data are unclear, which is particularly serious in cases in which such qualification would be essential for the planned studies. • The project is largely empirical. • The experiments proposed are premature & should be based on the results of simpler experiments not proposed. • The proposed studied is not particularly novel and is unlikely to advance this area of research significantly. • The research goals are too diffuse. • A number of problems exist regarding controls, the experimental design is not sufficiently described, and there is nothing original in the approach to the problem that distinguishes it from other similar studies being done.
IX. Assignments • Surf www.nih.gov to download an application form and to review the content of a proposal (http://www.csr.nih.gov/Video/video.asp#nihsites) • Select an agency to review its research agenda and funding priorities. • Download & print an example of RO1 and prepare your critique & review of this application.
X. Mentoring • “An experienced and trusted advisor” Oxford English Dictionary • Mentoring might have been described as: • the activities conducted by a person (the mentor) for another person (the mentee) in order to help that other person to do a job more effectively and/or to progress in their career.
Models of Mentorship • Senior mentoring model • Reciprocal or peer mentoring • External mentoring • Multidimensional mentoring model
Benefits of a Mentor • Reciprocal, personal and interactive relationship • Emotional and psychosocial support • Coach, Facilitator, Counselor • Networker, Friend, Colleague • Provides access • Providers credibility, insider knowledge
Finding the Right Mentor • Fit – time and place – doesn’t have to be perfect • Do you need a single mentor? Multiple mentors? • Qualities and character to look for: • Encourages risk-taking • Supports your endeavors • Provides constructive feedback • Promotes independence • Models successful grant behaviors
Perspectives: The Mentee • Moves your research program forward • Improve your productivity • Improve career satisfaction • Your qualities • Be respectful • Be accountable
Managing differences of opinion Overcoming fears Learning to embrace critique Unreasonable demands Unreceptive to mentoring Power and generational conflict Personality clashes Challenges in the Mentoring Relationship
Good Luck! TWAN@mail.ucf.edu