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What you Need to Know: Winning a K-Grant Amy D. Waterman, PhD K01 Recipient “Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they are executed” Ralph Waldo Emerson Mentorship Grants Why Should I Get a K-Grant?

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What you need to know winning a k grant l.jpg

What you Need to Know: Winning a K-Grant

Amy D. Waterman, PhD

K01 Recipient

Mentorship grants why should i get a k grant l.jpg
Mentorship Grants are executed”Why Should I Get a K-Grant?

  • Easier NIH grants to get: ~50% chance of success. 65 WUSM or BJH K awardees in 2002.

  • Guarantees 3-5 years of salary support & research money.

  • Shows your “promise” as an independent investigator, as a scientist and grant-winner.

  • Can lead to promotion at WUSM.

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What People Think you Need are executed”to Win a K-Grant

Promise as a researcher

A Great Research Idea

Strong Mentor and Institution

Director of nimh thomas insel l.jpg
Director of NIMH, are executed”Thomas Insel-

"There is often a sense in the academic community that they think of NIMH as a source of support, whereas we look at the academic community as a source of answers," he said. "We are looking for areas where people can complete a study and go on—not just add a brick to the wall, but start a new wall and finish it."

What you really need the full picture l.jpg
What you Really Need: are executed”The Full Picture

  • NIH Knowledge

  • A Well Prepared K-Grant

  • Knowledge of Internal WUSM Grants and Contracts Requirements

A Grant-Winning Strategy!

What you need to know l.jpg

What you Need to Know are executed”

NIH K-Grant Knowledge

Purpose of a k grant l.jpg
Purpose of a K-Grant are executed”

To provide support for supervised study

and research for professionals who have the potential to develop into productive, independent clinical investigators.

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Specifics of K Awards are executed”

  • Health professionals who have completed training and are seeking 3-5 years of salary and research support for a full-time supervised career development experience

  • $75,000-$85,000 for 75%-100% effort.

  • ~$25,000 - $50,000 per year allowed for:

    • tuition, fees, and books

    • research expenses: supplies, equipment, and staff

    • travel

    • statistical services

  • Linked to you, not institution – can take it with you.

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Learning about K-Grants are executed”

  • Review Career Wizard – Grant Application Decision Tool


  • Talk to your mentors

  • Review funded K-Grants in your area

  • Talk to your NIH K-Representative

  • Review NIH Website: www.nih.gov or http://www.csr.nih.gov/review/policy.asp

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Grants for Early Stage PhDs are executed”

As a research Ph.D., have you successfully competed for independent research funding?




Do you need 3-5 years of mentoring?

  • NO:

  • K22

  • R03

  • R21

  • YES:

  • KO1, K18

  • K22, K23, K25

  • F32

Health professional degree m d l.jpg

As a health professional M.D, have you successfully

competed for independent research funding?






K12 K18

K23 K25

What you need to know17 l.jpg

What you Need to Know are executed”

Well Prepared K-Grant



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The Hidden Question: are executed”

Why should the NIH give YOU ~$500,000?

Slide19 l.jpg

The Answer to the Hidden Question are executed”

  • Prove:

  • WUSM supports you as a researcher.

  • Your mentors and references are strong.

  • You are a promising researcher with a good idea and back-up plans.

  • Your research will answer important questions that the NIH values.

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Environmental Commitment are executed”

  • WUSM commitment to you as a researcher – even if you DON’T

    win the grant, Protected time

  • Availability of Research Resources needed

    • lab space, computers, staff, core facilities

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Strong Mentor(s) are executed”

  • Expertise and Resources needed for project

  • Time and commitment to train you for 3-5 years

  • Availability to help with grant editing

  • Can have several mentors to strengthen grant

  • Past record of mentoring others

  • Share our stories…

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Strong References are executed”

  • 3 well-known senior researchers

  • Researchers who know you: advisor, collaborators on past research, past employers

  • Also helpful if from different department or institution

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What you Need to Know are executed”

Your Attributes

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A Strong Applicant are executed”

  • A Promising Beginner:Great Education, Experience, Commitment, & Productivity, so why do you still need mentoring?

  • 75%-100% Protected Time for Research? If not, don’t apply

  • Previous pilot data

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Getting $ for Pilot Data are executed”

Seed Grant Money ($25-$100K/year) from:

  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation

  • Foundations in your research area (i.e. National Kidney Foundation, American Society of Transplantation)

    Finding Grant Sources:

  • Community of Science (www.cos.com)

  • Private foundations contact:

    • http://privatefundingsources.wustl.edu/

    • http://internalcompetitions.wustl.edu

    • Jessica Indrigo,([email protected]; 286-0009)

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What to Prepare are executed”


  • Non-Research Plan

  • Research Plan – “the science”

  • Abstract



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Non-Research Plan Sections are executed”(Take This Seriously!)

  • Candidate Background

  • Career Goals & Objectives

  • Career Development Plan

  • Mentor’s Statement

  • Environment & Institutional Commitment

  • Budget

  • Collaborators

Candidate background l.jpg
Candidate Background are executed”

Your “resume” to this point:

  • Education & Training

  • Research Experience

  • Research Accomplishments so far

  • Commitment to a Research Career

  • Previous collaborations

  • Academic position.

    …Present evidence to show you are a promising researcher

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Career Goals & Objectives are executed”

  • Short- & Long-term Career Goals

  • What you have done

  • Need for additional training

  • What you intend to do & how winning this grant will lead to reaching these goals

Career development plan l.jpg
Career Development Plan are executed”

  • Plan to be an independent investigator in your area

    • Specific skills & knowledge plan to learn

    • Plan to work with mentors

  • Plan to help you be a better scientist generally

    • Ethics training

    • Personnel & lab management training

    • Experience presenting at meetings

  • Coursework proposed should make sense with your science and goals.

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Mentor’s Statement are executed”

  • Mentor’s research qualifications & previous mentoring experience

  • Mentor’s plan to mentor YOU (meetings, supervision, resources provided)

  • Recommendation of you as a K-grant recipient

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Other Non-Research Plan Sections are executed”

  • Environment and Institutional Commitment: quality of institution in general, support for your type of research, support of you specifically

  • Budget: PHS 398 form budgeting forms (filled out by WUSM Budgets people)

  • Collaborators: Letter of Support

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Research Plan: are executed”

“The Science”

25 Pages


  • Specific Aims

  • Background

  • Significance

  • Preliminary Studies and Results

  • Research Design and Methods

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  • State the questions that are clearly understandable, EXCITING, and worthwhile pursuing.

  • Explain the experiment and analysis so that a non-expert can follow what you are doing.

  • Interpret the results so reviewer can see the impact of your experiments

  • Convince them that the results are worth obtaining & worth the money to fund.

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The Important First Page are executed”

  • Setup (importance of medical problem, give them a flavor of the theme of your lab)

  • Hypothesis (points to a specific problem leading to a statement of your hypothesis)

  • Specific Aims (list these & approach used, what will be accomplished)

Set up l.jpg
Set-Up are executed”


  • Your model system or disease, your theme (2-3 sentences)

  • Important unanswered questions (2-3 sentences)

  • Potential impact of the results; why it is worth pursuing these questions

    …Summarize your background and significance

Hypotheses l.jpg
Hypotheses are executed”


  • From your setup it should be clear that what you propose is the next logical step to pursue

  • Clear and Simple

  • Conclude how proposed aims would help to test your hypotheses

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Specific Aims are executed”

  • Make each aim independent, focused

  • Briefly mention: What approach you will be taking to investigate the aim, and the impact of this new knowledge

  • Explain what you expect to find

  • DON’T STATE TOO MUCH. There are no bonus points. It has got to be practical.

    ...Are the experiments appropriate & doable, to support/refute hypotheses? Do they advance knowledge?

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Hypotheses & Aims are executed”



  • To conduct a group-randomized controlled trial of 225 potential recipientsto compare the effectiveness of (two) educational approaches compared to standard-of-care on three important outcomes: recipient comfort asking, number of living donors evaluated, and number of recipients transplanted.Hypothesis: Improved recipient health education will significantly increase recipient comfort asking and the number of living donors evaluated, and number of recipients transplanted compared with receiving standard-of-care.

Background and significance l.jpg
Background and Significance are executed”

  • Don’t assume reviewers will read literature, cite relevant findings in grant.

  • Not a comprehensive review of the literature, pertinent literature relevant to your study

  • Identify gaps that your research will fill. You are directing them towards your Research Plan

  • State your research’s importance and health relevance

  • 2 – 3 pages recommended.

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Preliminary Studies and Results are executed”

  • Establish your (or mentor’s) experience and competence

  • Prove you have resources to execute what is proposed

  • Choose figures that emphasize key findings

  • Describe published and unpublished results

  • 4-6 pages

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Research Design and Methods are executed”

  • Describe research design and procedures in detail. USE SUBHEADINGS.

  • Describe how data will be successfully collected, analyzed and interpreted (power, statistical analysis, how others will help accomplish research, controls).

  • Discuss how potential difficulties and limitations will be overcome (i.e., interpret failures, alternatives, if negative results are important).

  • Include a timetable.

  • Human subjects and Animal studies (IRB approval))

  • No specific number of pages.

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Abstract are executed”

  • your goals as a scientist

  • your excellent mentors and proposed training.

  • your study aims and hypotheses.

  • future career goals (i.e. RO1 funding) after this project.

    **Model abstracts of funded K recipients on CRISP database:http://crisp.cit.nih.gov/

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Writing Timeline are executed”

3-6 months in advance:

  • Idea formulated, Aims and Abstract Written, Mentors onboard

    2-3 months:

  • Grant Written, Work with WUSM Budget and Grant People, letters of support obtained

    Final Month:

  • Revise Proposal after critiques, prepare submission packet

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K-Grant Due Dates are executed”

Feb 1

June 1

October 1

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What you Need to Know are executed”

Internal WUSM Grant Requirements

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Budget & Grants are executed”

  • 1-2 months in advance, notify Division Administrator of intent to submit grant

  • 1 month in advance: submit draft budget and budget justification for internal approval

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Grants & Contracts are executed”

  • Have to receive WUSM Grants & Contracts approval before mailing grant- 1 week before due date

  • Reviews budget, financial disclosure, and institutional legal assurances- NOT SCIENCE.

  • G&C is swamped during NIH guidelines- leave time for review!

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Grading your Grant are executed”

Candidate: Quality of past research, potential to develop into an independent researcher

Career Development Plan: Appropriateness and clarity of plan, likelihood that plan will contribute to the field

Training in Responsible Conduct of research: Training in research ethics

Research Plan: Scientific merit of research question, design, and methodology

Mentor: Expertise of mentor

Institutional Commitment: Institution’s commitment to your success

Budget: Appropriate budget for career goals

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NIH Grant Evaluation are executed”

  • Grant assigned to an Integrated Review Group (IRG) study section and NIH institute.

  • Request an IRG! http://www.csr.nih.gov/events/studysectionservice.htm

  • 4 IRG members review entire grant, while other IRG members review your abstract. Group discussion occurs.

  • IRB members give your grant a priority score from 100 (best) -500 (worst). 100-225 is possibly fundable.

  • Each NIH Division funds ~20 % of the ‘approved for funding’ grants.

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Communicating with NIH are executed”

NIH Mails Communication:

  • That grant is received

  • Which IRG your grant is assigned to

  • Priority Score of your grant

  • “Pink Sheets” – reviews of your grant

    Follow-up online or email your K-grant contact if you need an update.

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3 Outcomes are executed”

Priority score:

  • In fundable range: 100-175

  • Maybe in fundable range: 176-250

    • Send additional information to NIH about WU, IRB approval

    • Wait for official announcement

  • Not in fundable range: prepare resubmission: >250

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All You Need To Win a K : are executed”The Full Picture

A Grant-Winning Strategy

  • NIH Knowledge

  • A Well-Prepared K-Grant

  • Knowledge of Internal WUSM Grants and Contracts Requirements

One who is prepared has the battle half fought l.jpg

One who is prepared, has the battle half fought are executed”

modified Miguel de Cervantes