Preparing for the rmstp funding application
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Preparing for the RMSTP Funding Application. Jeffrey B. Palmer, MD Johns Hopkins University. Acknowledgment. Many thanks to Dr. John Whyte for preparing this PowerPoint presentation. Topics. Critical review of problem(s) in rehab that are of interest

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Preparing for the RMSTP Funding Application

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Preparing for the RMSTP Funding Application

Jeffrey B. Palmer, MD

Johns Hopkins University


Many thanks to Dr. John Whyte for preparing this PowerPoint presentation.


  • Critical review of problem(s) in rehab that are of interest

  • Identify a scientific domain in which you want to become an expert

  • Identify local resources and mentors

  • Identify an outside mentor (Phase I)

  • (Conduct relevant pilot work)

  • Write a research proposal

  • Write a career development plan

Critical Review of a Problem

  • Research progress in an area is limited by:

    • Important unanswered question(s)

    • Lack of useful theories

    • Lack of appropriate measurement tools

    • Lack of relevant background data (e.g., natural history)

    • Methodological obstacles

Critical Review (cont.)

  • Reading extensively and writing a critical review will:

    • Help you define a specific sub-problem that has not been addressed

    • Help you define the problems/obstacles your research will need to solve

    • Help you decide where you want your expertise to lie

    • Give you a respectable publication to begin to define your expertise in this area

What’s a Critical Review?

  • It is NOT an itemization of who said what

  • It is NOT a ‘majority rules’ tally

  • It is a synthesis, often comparing the results by:

    • type of subject

    • type of outcome measure

    • specifics of treatment

    • type of research design

Identify a Scientific Domain

  • When people refer to you in 10 or 20 years, what will they say? “She’s an expert in ______”

  • Residents frequently name a patient population, but research training is generally not designed around a patient population

  • What about that patient population interests you?

  • What scientific domain outside of rehabilitation would help you understand it the most?

  • What scientific domains are more realistic to “borrow” from collaborators?

Scientific Domain (cont.)

  • Consider taking a step back from a specific applied study (this is not a research grant)

  • What kinds of studies are you likely to be conducting over 10 or 20 years and what skills will you need to do so?

Identify Local Resources and Mentors

  • You’ll need to be working on this during your residency, so look for:

    • Faculty inside/outside your department with similar interests

    • Faculty with connections to experts in the field

    • Faculty who have something to gain from pilot activities in your topic area

    • Support from chair for planning/writing

    • Research elective with proposed mentor?

Conduct Relevant Pilot Work

  • This will not always be appropriate or feasible

  • Conduct pilot work that will help lay the groundwork (in collaboration w/mentor?), e.g.

    • Tool validation

    • Natural history

  • Rarely a good idea to try a clinical trial this early

Identify an Outside Mentor (Phase I)

  • Preferably not in your own institution and never in your own department

  • Review mentors used by other trainees as examples of “approved mentors”

  • Identify potential mentors for you through the literature, CRISP searches, local mentors

  • Make initial contact with mentor describing interests and work to date; negotiate the relationship (info sheet for mentors on CD-ROM)

  • Get mentor approved by RMSTP before going further

Write a Research Proposal

  • With the mentor’s help!

  • Will need to demonstrate:

    • The importance of the problem

    • Your knowledge of previous work on the problem

    • Your mentor’s involvement in helping you address foreseeable difficulties

There are advantages in not being too original at the start

  • You must realistically think about rapid productivity

  • If you work on a close off-shoot of a mentor’s research s/he will be able to help you anticipate and solve methodological problems

  • If you work on a more distant problem, your mentor will be able to offer guidance but less direct experience

  • Importance of the training milieu

Write a Career Development Plan

  • Who are you now and what skills do you possess?

  • Who do you want to be and what skills will you need?

  • What types of training experiences (courses, laboratory skill exposure, etc.) will get you there?

  • Why is your proposed mentorship plan the ideal path?

Possible Outcomes

  • Ideal timeline: submit Phase I funding application in September of PGY4 year (may submit any September while eligible)

  • Decision made in December

    • Funded: start in July

    • Not funded: consider re-working into individual K award application (or could submit simultaneously if ready)

Presentation at AAP Meetings

  • During the remainder of the pre-application and Phase I periods you will be expected to discuss your progress, obstacles, solutions

  • Toward the end of Phase I, you will be expected to present your research progress to the overall meeting attendees

  • Late Phase I, throughout Phase II, serve as mentor to newer trainees and applicants

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