Strategic Planning for Fellowship Grant Funding – focus on the NRSA (F32) Janet Gross, Ph.D. Grants Tutorial Director Office of Postdoctoral Education
Overview • Grant Writing – the challenge • What is the NRSA grant proposal? • Nuts and Bolts of NIH applications and guidelines in general • Writing a competitive proposal • Common mistakes – lessons from summary sheets
Grant writing takes practice + skill • Learn about grant writing and other kinds of writing • Practice letting others review and comment on your ideas • Practice having your proposals and writing be “rejected” • find someone with a 100% funding record (if you can) • Practice rewriting your own work • Work collaboratively to make your proposal outstanding • Take advantage of the expertise around you • There is no stupid question --- risk it!
Research MENTOR Grant proposal MENTOR POSTDOC Best grant writers are collaborators
Working with your mentor • Communication • Learning experience • Collaborative writing process • Time management Plausible Research Ideas Specific Aims
Everyone is very smart • Most proposals are very good, even have excellent research plans • Only outstanding gets funded • Invest in your career not just in this research project • Work collaboratively to make your proposal outstanding • Take advantage of the expertise around you • There is no stupid question --- risk it! • Remove all obvious flaws from your proposal
You are not your proposal(however, you are your biosketch) • Scientific writing must be vetted by others • Write something every day • Practice rewriting your own work
Grant Writing Strategies • Review a successful proposal - do not be naïve • Make contact with the funder - is your science fundable?
Contact with the NIH? Section VII. Agency Contacts Each NIH Institute and Center has a unique scientific purview and different program goals and initiatives that evolve over time. Prior to preparing an application, it is critical that all applicants consult the appropriate Institute website (listed with each Institute's name at the beginning of this announcement) for details of research areas supported by that Institute. Applicants should also contact the appropriate Institute representative to obtain current information about specific program priorities and policies. This action is of utmost importance because applications with marginal or no relevance to the participating Institutes will not be accepted for review or possible funding. .....
Grant Writing Strategies • Review a successful proposal - do not be naïve • Make contact with the funder - is your science fundable? Coaching – grant writing group, NRSA tutorial class Collect tips and hints about grant writing that have worked for others Develop a strategic plan for your proposal – careful planning with guidance from mentors Use a timeline to write - time management & priorities Convey confidence in your research and writing style “Arm’s Length” approach to reading your own work Get others to read and critique your work
What is the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA F32)?
NRSA F32 Mission The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards individual postdoctoral research training fellowships to promising applicants with the potential to become productive, independent investigators in research fields relevant to the missions of participating NIH Institutes and Centers. The primary objective of this funding opportunity is to help ensure that diverse pools of highly trained scientists will be available in adequate numbers and in appropriate research areas to carry out the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research agendas.
F Kiosk http://grants.nih.gov/training/f_files_nrsa.htm • Identify the correct grant Title:Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows (Parent F32) • Download the Program Announcement Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-10-110
Locate the applications instructions link General Information. For general information on SF424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission, see these Web sites: • SF424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm • Locate the application package • General information on Electronic Submission of Grant Applications: http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/
Why Should I Apply for This Grant? • Stepping stone for an academic career • Build a track record of fundable research • NRSA vs. other grant opportunities • $$, prestige • Small, competitive awards vs. no award • Are you permitted to be a PI?
The Sponsor/Mentor • How well do you know the sponsor? • How well does the sponsor know you? • Has your sponsor ever had NRSA postdocs before? • Can you in person, face-to-face, ask these questions and discuss the answers with your Sponsor? • Should you have a co-sponsor/mentor?
Other options for awards There are many non-NIH funding opportunities: • Training or Fellowship Grants • Career Development Awards (CDA’s) • For non-citizens • For specific disease-focused research • Travel, equipment, tuition
Kirschstein-NRSA post-doctoral fellowships (F32s) Applications, awards, and success rates
After proposal leaves University NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Assigned to review committee (study section) Primary reviewer, Secondary reviewer, Reader
Who Reviews the NRSA? • Center for Scientific Review http://cms.csr.nih.gov/AboutCSR/OverviewofPeerReviewProcess.htm http://cms.csr.nih.gov/ResourcesforApplicants/QuickLinks-AnswersforApplicants.htm http://cms.csr.nih.gov/PeerReviewMeetings/Fellowship/ • Scoring system considers the impact of the research • range = 10 (high impact, exceptional) – 90 (low impact, poor) • Funding level (payline) is not determined nor discussed by reviewers • Funding decisions are made by the NIH I/C
Review Process Top 50% Discussed at committee Impact Score + Criteria scores Summary Statement Funded Not funded Bottom 50% Not discussed Not scored (streamlined) Summary Statement with criteria scores (very valuable) Anyone can resubmit 1 time
Useful Training Websites • NIDA Training Information Site • http://www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchTraining/Traininghome.html • NINDS Training Information Site • http://www.ninds.nih.gov/funding/areas/training_and_career_development/index.htm • NIH Grant Review Process - Video • http://www.drg.nih.gov/Video/Video.asp
NRSA Application Package & Guidelines
NRSA (F32) Program Announcement: PA-10-110 General Information http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm • You build, save, upload pdfs and fill in online form pages • follow OSP guidelines for NIH grants; www. osp.emory.edu • Application Package • Individual Fellowship Application Guide SF424 (R&R) - Adobe Forms Version B – writing instructions • Additional Form Pages – biosketch form, etc.
Which NIH I/C is the best match for your research? • Study the website of the NIH Institute or Center (I/C) to which you are directing your proposal • Is there a match between your interests and the agency’s mission? • Agency Contact List - pre-application advice? • Section I. I. Each NIH Institute and Center (IC) has a unique scientific purview and different program goals and initiatives that evolve over time. Prospective Fellowship Applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant NIH staff for IC-specific programmatic information: Table of Institute and Center Contacts.
Who supports the F32? Components of Participating OrganizationsNational Cancer Institute (NCI), (http://www.nci.nih.gov/) National Eye Institute (NEI), (http://www.nei.nih.gov/) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/) National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), (http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/) National Institute of Aging (NIA), (http://www.nia.nih.gov/) National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), (http://www.niaaa.nih.gov) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), (http://www.niams.nih.gov/) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), (http://www.nibib.nih.gov/) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/) National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), (http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/) National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), (http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), (http://www.niddk.nih.gov/) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), (http://www.nida.nih.gov/) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), (http://www.nigms.nih.gov/) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/) National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), (http://www.ninr.nih.gov/) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), (http://www.nccam.nih.gov/) National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), (http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/)
Eligibility Issues for the NRSA Program Announcement rules are NOT OPTIONAL • U.S. citizenship, non-citizen national, or permanent resident • at time of award (not submission) • Previous and current funding situation • The combined postdoctoral T32 + F32 cannot exceed 3 years
Basics • You need an eRA commons account • Funding dates – Aug, Dec, April • Award cycles – 3x/yr • Stipend levels and payback requirements • Incur a service obligation of 1 month for each month of support during the first 12 months. • Health-related research training, research and/or teaching qualifies
What sections are in the application package?
SF424 (R&R) Application 4.2 SF424 (R&R) Cover Component 4.3 R & R Project /Performance Site Locations 4.4 R & R Other Project Information Component • Project Summary/Abstract • Project Narrative • Bibliography & References Cited • Facilities & Other Resources • Equipment • Other Attachments (mentor’s stuff) 4.5 Key Person Profile Biosketches go here (yours – you are the PI- and the mentor’s) 5.2 PHS398 Cover Letter File 5.3 PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form
4.4 R & R Other Project Information Component 12. Other Attachments • Required Attachment 1. List of Referees 2. Sponsor and Co-Sponsor Information (6 pages max.) • Research support available • Sponsor and co-sponsors’ previous fellows • Training Plan, Environment, Research Facilities • Number of Fellow/Trainees to be supervised • Applicant’s Qualifications and Potential B. Additional Attachments (when applicable) • Collaborators and Dissertation Advisor, if applicable • Certification Letter for Predoctoral Fellowships (F31) to Promote Diversity
4.5 Senior/Key Person Profile • PI = you, the Fellowship Applicant or Candidate • Senior Key Person #1 = primary sponsor (mentor) • Senior Key Person #2 = co-sponsor • 40 max. • Upload biosketches here
5.3 PHS Fellowship Supplemental FormB. Research Training plan • Introduction to Application (resubmissions only; 1 page) • Specific Aims – 1 page max. • Research Strategy – 6 pages max. • Significance • Approach (includes preliminary data) Human Subjects 6. – 12.
PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form Other Research Training Plan Sections 13-14.Vertebrate Animals • Select Agents Research • Resource Sharing – model organisms, GWAS • *Respective Contributions • *Selection of Sponsor and Institution • *Responsible Conduct of Research *1 page maximum
PHS Fellowship Supplemental FormC. Additional Information Human Embryonic Stem Cells Fellowship Applicant • * Goals for Fellowship Training and Career • * Activities Planned Under this Award (100% effort) • ** Doctoral Dissertation and Other Research Experience • Citizenship D. Budget E. Appendix ** 2 pages max.
Do’s • READ ALL DIRECTIONS • FOLLOW ALL GUIDELINES • MAKE YOURSELF A PERSONAL “TO DO” LIST AND CHECK LIST • PACE YOURSELF • GET FEEDBACK
Don’ts • Don’t exceed the page limit • Don’t use the wrong font, pagination, spacing, etc. • Don’t skip any sections • Don’t do this solo • Don’t think “This couldn’t possibly be important/necessary/essential...”
How can strategic grant writing contribute to a competitive proposal?
How to convey your research career aspirations? • In the proposal, remind the reader that you are on track to become an independent scientist WHY? NRSA is funding for training & career development not just for funding your PI’sresearch
“This is a person on the path to becoming an independent researcher” • Biographical Sketch (follow format for Fellowship biosket) • Doctoral Dissertation and Other Research Experience (2 pages max.) Can you create linkages in the reader’s mind? • Tell your story. • Use of 1st person is ok.
Good Organization is Essential.....or messy grant = messy lab • Choose an outlining style • CAPS, bold, italic, underlining, etc. • Be consistent throughout - parallel formatting for each Specific Aim and for each experiment • Refer to your Specific Aims in your Preliminary Studies • Refer to your Preliminary Studies in your Approach (methods) • Refer to your training potential throughout • Name names of mentor(s)
You will be rewarded if you DO • Set aside time to write a grant – can take weeks or months • Read all directions • Follow all guidelines • Make yourself a personal “to do” list; check it off • Use the SF424 Assembly Line pdf • Pace yourself - cramming is a killer errors! • Get quality feedback
Important, unforgivable DON’TS • Don’t exceed the page limit • Don’t use an unapproved font, pagination, spacing • Don’t skip any sections • Don’t think “This section couldn’t possibly be important/necessary/essential...” • Don’t do this solo
Common Mistakes In Scientific Grant Writing
1. The messy proposal The committee commented on the less than stellar grantsmanship throughout the proposal (misspellings and typos).
2. The overly ambitious research plan There are some concerns as to the likelihood of completing aims 2 and 3 within the allotted time given the pilot nature of the work and the number of techniques that need to be mastered.
The overly ambitious research plan The training potential of the planned work is high. However, there are concerns that the research plan is overambitious, not hypothesis driven and lacks clear rationale and detailed description of the studies proposed. Taken together, these concerns diminish enthusiasm for the application. While interesting, the proposal is extremely ambitious. Overall, the research plan is too broad and too large to have any hope of being successful.