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Funding for Academic Environment. Presented by: Ronald Braithwaite, Ph.D. Professor Morehouse School of Medicine Departments of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Family Medicine and Psychiatry April 27, 2011.

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Funding for academic environment

Funding for Academic Environment

Presented by:

Ronald Braithwaite, Ph.D.ProfessorMorehouse School of MedicineDepartments of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Family Medicine and Psychiatry

April 27, 2011

  • Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS in Latinos: Linking Research with the Community

Funding for academic environment



and Review

“Anatomy” of the Grant Process




Program Staff

Funding Opportunity

Announcement (FOA)



Grant Application

(R01, R03, R21,

K01, K08, etc.)






Program Staff

Extramural research

Extramural Research

NIH has 3 major funding instruments to support extramural research:

  • Grant: Investigator decides the research to be designed or developed and the approach.

  • Contract:Government decides the research to fill their perceived need and establishes detailed requirements.

  • Cooperative Agreement:Similar to grants, but awarding Institute/Center (IC) and recipient have substantial involvement in carrying out the project's activities.

Nih behavioral and social research support in fy 2002

NIMH$ 408.7

NIDA$ 377.3

NICHD $ 250.2

NCI $ 248.6

NIA $ 243.5

NIAAA$ 183.1

NHLBI $ 108.7

NINR$ 98.0

NIDCD$ 87.9

NINDS$ 71.0

NCRR $ 54.5

NEI $ 54.2

NIDDK$ 42.0

NIAID $ 33.9

NIDCR$ 27.5

OD$ 25.3

NIAMS$ 22.1

NHGRI$ 15.7

NCCAM$ 14.4

NIEHS$ 12.5

NIGMS$ 11.3

FIC$ 5.8

NLM$ 1.8

NIBIB$ 1.0

NCMHD$ 0.7


NIH Behavioral and Social Research Support in FY 2002

So what type of grant is right for me

So … What Type of GrantIs Right for Me?

Stage of research career?

- experience and expertise?

Research needs?

- mentors or collaborators?

- size of project?

Talk with staff …

They will help you find the right funding mechanism.

Funding mechanisms

Funding Mechanisms

Graduate Student

NRSA F30, F31, R36, T32


NRSA F32, T32


K01, K08, K23, K12, K22, K99/R00

Early Career

R03, R21, R15


R01, K02, P01, K24

Senior Investigator


Nih grant mechanisms

NIH Grant Mechanisms

  • R01 Traditional investigator-initiated grant

    < $500K/yr, 3-5 yrs. Need approval if more than $500K for any year of the grant

  • R03 Small Grant

    < $100K for 2 yrs

  • R21 (NCI) Exploratory/Developmental Grant

    < $275K for 2 yrs

  • R13Conference Grants

    amount dependent on score, timeliness, budget, NIH interest

Career development awards

Career Development Awards

Career Development Programs (K series)

  • K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award

  • K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award

  • K22 NCI Transition Career Development Award

  • K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award

Nci research fellowships and training funding opportunities

NCI Research Fellowships and Training Funding Opportunities

Fellowships (F series)

  • F32 Individual Postdoctoral Fellows

  • F33 Senior Fellows

  • F31 NIH Predoctoral Fellowship Awards for Minority Students

    Training (T series)

  • T32Institutional Research Training Grants

  • Predoctoral Research Training Partnership Award (TU2)

Funding for academic environment

Components of a Successful

Grant Application – Bottom Line!

  • Strong Idea

  • Strong Science

  • Strong Application

Some key considerations

Some key considerations

  • Write a clear and concise abstract

  • Never assume that reviewers “will know what you mean”

  • Tell a coherent and consistent story

  • Write for a multidisciplinary audience

  • Place your project in a larger scientific/public health context

  • Create a cohesive application package

  • Pay attention to grammar and spelling!!

  • Conduct a “mock” review with colleagues

Funding for academic environment

Before You Start Writing

  • Do your homework!

    • Find the right NIH Institute

    • Review the Institute FOAs

    • Find the right funding mechanism

    • Know the review committee(s)

    • Talk to the Program Officer at the Institute

Except for deciding on a funding mechanism, there’s no requirement that you do any of these!

Funding for academic environment

Concept Development

  • Questions to continually ask

    • yourself:

      • -- What will be learned?

      • -- Why is this research important?

Planning guide for new applications

Months before receipt date













Receipt Date

Assess yourself, your field, and your resources

Meet institutional deadlines

Brainstorm; research your idea; call NIH program staff

Get feedback; edit and proof read

Set up your own review committee; determine human and animal subject requirements

Planning Guide for New Applications

Funding for academic environment


  • Define a fundamental question

  • Transform idea(s) into an exciting story/

  • “a scientific journey”

  • Build confidence and enthusiasm (and

    • sense of importance/relevance of your

    • particular research to the field)

Funding for academic environment

Writing -- General Comments

  • Investigate a significant issue

    • in science

  • Use clear and concise language

  • Propose a doable project

Funding for academic environment

Writing -- General Comments (cont)

  • Create interest and build enthusiasm

  • about project

  • Be very concerned about

    • “packaging”

  • Never assume your audience will

    • “know what you mean”

Funding for academic environment

Title (the “Hook”)

Clear and descriptive

Funding for academic environment

Abstract (Project Description)

Present the big picture

Funding for academic environment

Abstract (Project Description)

… the 2nd “Hook” … use it as another important opportunity

If the reviewers aren’t excited after reading the abstract…………….

Funding for academic environment

The Application

12 pages

… to convince reviewers

*For RO1s, most Ks and some other grant mechanisms

keep abreast of changes

by subscribing to the NIH Guide!

Funding for academic environment

Key Personnel

Justify thoroughly

Funding for academic environment

Biographical Sketch

Who AREyou?

Why are YOU the person to do this?

Personal Statement

Maximum of 15


Funding for academic environment


Justify thoroughly

Funding for academic environment

Duration of Study

Justify thoroughly

Funding for academic environment


Do not underbudgetor overbudget



Funding for academic environment

Specific Aims

Summary of your goals

What will be the IMPACT!

Your best shot! If the reviewers aren’t enthusiastic

by the end of the Specific Aims they’re

seldom won back.

Funding for academic environment

Research Strategy – 4 sections

  • Significance

  • Innovation

  • Approach

  • Preliminary Studies/Progress Report

Funding for academic environment


Why is what you want to do important?

How will what you want to do change the field?

Funding for academic environment


What’s new here?

Are there novel concepts, approaches,


Funding for academic environment


  • Provide rationales throughout as to why certain methods were selected and why key alternatives were not

  • Provide timeline – a realistic and well-planned estimate of start/end times for each experiment

  • Address potential problems and solutions

Funding for academic environment


  • Exercise humility – it is far better to

  • identify weaknesses and explain how

  • you will deal with them than it is to

  • hope that the reviewers won’t

  • find them (they always do!)

  • Highlight strengths of application

  • whenever you can!

Funding for academic environment


(Avoid These Criticisms!)

  • Not enough detail

  • Methods out of date

  • Experiments don’t test the hypotheses

  • What hypothesis/hypotheses?

Funding for academic environment


(Avoid These Criticisms!)

  • Fishing expedition

  • No place to go if Aim 1 fails

  • Inappropriate statistical analysis

  • Insufficient power

  • Sequence & priorities missing - logic/flow

Funding for academic environment



PLAN Ahead!!!

And Don’t Forget to talk with


Overall impact


  • Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following five core review criteria, and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed). 

9 point scoring system

9-Point Scoring System

1 st level review

1st Level Review

  • Standing study section typically has 12-24 members

  • Typically 3 meetings each year face-to-face or electronic

  • Review 60 - 100 applications at each meeting

Summary statement

Summary Statement

  • The summary statement contains:

    • Overall Resume and Summary of Review Discussion for applications that are discussed

    • Essentially Unedited Critiques

    • Priority Score and Percentile Ranking, if given

    • Budget Recommendations

    • Information about human subjects and other matters, as needed, and administrative notes

Funding for academic environment


  • Read summary statement

  • Re-read summary statement

  • Talk with your Program Officer

  • Talk with your colleagues

  • If the weaknesses can be fixed, revise and

  • resubmit the application

Common problems in applications check prior to submission

Common Problems in Applications(check prior to submission)

  • Diffuse or unfocused research plan

  • Studies lack cohesiveness

  • Insufficient detail

  • Insufficient evidence of knowledge of relevant literature

  • Unrealistically large amount of work

  • Uncertainty concerning future directions

  • Lack of specific data to show feasibility of approach

Common problems in applications continued

Common Problems in Applications (Continued)

  • Absence of new or original ideas

  • Absence of an acceptable scientific rationale

  • Insufficient evidence of experience in the essential methodology

  • Outdated methodologies

  • Questionable reasoning in approach

  • Uncritical approach

  • Poor preparation and presentation

Common problems in applications continued1

Common Problems in Applications (Continued)

  • Inadequate consideration of protection

    for human or animal subjects; absence or

    problems with data and safety monitoring


  • Missing or inadequate inclusion of

    • Women

    • Minorities

    • Children

On time submission

On-Time Submission

  • Initial submission must have a timestamp on or before 5:00 p.m. local timeof submitting organization on the receipt date.

My top ten critical factors

My Top Ten Critical Factors

  • Identify the gap in science you will fill

  • Clearly define Hypothesis/Scientific Aims

  • Clearly define design

  • Clearly define primary outcome

  • Link outcomes to specific measures

  • Limitations Section: proactively defuse weaknesses and justify your decisions

  • Have others read it prior to submission

  • Detailed Recruitment and Retention

  • Timeline/Feasibility

  • Pilot Data, Pilot Data, Pilot Data

  • Repeat core Issues at least 3X

  • Explain your rationale/choices

Why points are deducted by me

Why points are deducted (by me)

  • Design

    • Unclear

      • Schedule of assessment

    • Wrong Control Group

  • Lack of Theoretical Grounding

  • Wrong Statistical Model

  • Insufficient/Incorrect Power Calculations

  • Lack of Pilot Data (RO1 only)

  • Weak/Wrong/Unspecified Measures

The top ten list

The “Top Ten” List

  • Read and re-read the program announcement

  • Assemble a strong research team

  • Use the strongest study design possible

  • If you have not been on a study section, confer with someone who has

  • Be sure to document the innovations(s)

  • Document strong access to the study population

  • Make sure the writing, organization, & grammar are as tight as possible (write, re-write…read, re-read)

  • Seek reviews before submission

  • Make careful use of the summary statement

  • Persevere and don’t take rejection personally

Most common problems

Most Common Problems

  • Lack of new or original ideas

  • Diffuse, superficial or unfocused research plan

  • Lack of knowledge of published relevant work

  • Lack of experience in the essential methods

  • Uncertainty concerning the future directions

  • Questionable reasoning in methodological approach

  • Absence of an acceptable scientific rationale

  • Unrealistically large amount of work

  • Lack of sufficient methodological detail

  • Uncritical approach

Thank you

Thank You

Q & A

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