Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How to write a Specific Aims page

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provides excellent tutorials on writing various aspects of grant proposals.  The Specific Aims section is a key piece of almost all NIH proposal mechanisms.  Unfortunately, it is also a section that often confuses people.  If you can write an excellent Aims page, the rest of the proposal will logically flow from there.  If your Aims are not clear and concise, you will find it more difficult to write the rest of your proposal and reviewers will find it more difficult to read it.  The Draft Specific Aims page from NIAID gives excellent advice on constructing and reviewing your aims.  It also provides a handy proposal planning checklist to help guide you through the process.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

San Francisco, anyone?

In October of 2018, there will be an NIH Regional Seminar in San Francisco, California. The program agenda includes one day of optional workshops and two days of seminars. For a limited time, discounted rooms for attendees are available at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.  If you are fortunate enough to have travel funds available to attend this seminar, be sure to check out this list of 10 things not to miss.

Friday, June 8, 2018

NIH Forms E clinical trials requirements - how's it going?

Have you had your first experience with submission of the new NIH human subjects attachments? Have you written the sections for a clinical trial application?  How did it go?
Since February, I have had the nightmare-inducing task of working on several applications that count as clinical trials under the new guidelines but would not have under the previous ones.  The amount of extra work involved in completion of the text fields and attachments is staggering. Considering that roughly 90% of submitted proposals will not be funded, that is a lot of extra time and financial burden to researchers and administrators.  I hope there are enough complaints from faculty and reviewers to catalyze changes that will minimize this burden.  Perhaps much of this information could be requested at the Just-in-Time stage instead of at the time of proposal submission.  It would save wasted effort and require only those investigators who truly have a chance at being funded to submit their clinical trial details.

Friday, June 1, 2018

R01 deadline is almost here!

Are you still working on your R01 proposal for the June 5th deadline?  Hopefully you have followed all of my tips and have already submitted, verified that your proposal was received by grants.gov with no errors, and are now enjoying a nice glass of vino. 

If not, best of luck to you as you spend your weekend frantically writing and rewriting Aim 2, checking for typos, and realizing you are still 2 pages over the 12-page limit.  Remember how stressful and awful this is and start earlier for your October 5th submission!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

NINDS will limit awards to well-funded labs

In an effort to focus more resources on junior scientists, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will now limit awards to laboratories that already have funding at levels of $1 million or more.  Although this policy has great intentions, it remains to be seen whether it will lead to increased levels of funding among new and early state investigators.  This article in Science provides more information about the new policy.

Friday, April 27, 2018

How to select which funding mechanism is right for me?

There are many different types of NIH funding mechanisms, and it is easy to get lost in the alphabet soup.  R01, F32, U01, R21 - how do you decide?  To help with this often-encountered confusion, NIH has provided a tip sheet that describes the various funding mechanisms and offers guidance on determining which is appropriate for your project. The document is located here.  This document also provides clarification on the different types of NIH funding instruments, including grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts.  If you are seeking more information, a helpful page on the NICHD website (located here) also provides a nice breakdown.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What does it mean when your NIH grant application is "Not Discussed"?

Although it is a few years old, this helpful article from NIAID provides an overview of the proposal review process that explains what it means for a proposal to be classified as Not Discussed.  This designation is also referred to by some of the old-school folks as "unscored" or "bottom-halved".  Interestingly, the article advises that, in some circumstances, it is a good idea to resubmit a Not Discussed proposal.  This is contrary to a common notion that proposals that are not scored should be significantly revamped and submitted as new.  As the article advises, it is important to contact the appropriate staff member from the relevant Institute/Center to discuss the application and your next steps.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Avoiding Grant Scams

Avoid Grant Scams: No legitimate federal government employee would ever call you and tell you that you qualify or have been approved for a grant for which you never applied. This helpful page from NIH helps you to spot and avoid a grant scam.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Preliminary data: the perpetual problem of the chicken or the egg

NIAID recently published a helpful article about the importance of preliminary data in strengthening your grant application.  Although this article is somewhat specific to NIAID applicants, the overall message is relevant to everyone: preliminary data is important, and may be your key to getting funded.  Even R21 applications, which by definition do not technically require preliminary data, are strengthened by the addition of relevant preliminary data.