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Funding HIV/AIDS Research in the Current Environment. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Ph.D. Northwestern University 2009 NSF CAREER Award Recipient 2008 RWJ Health Investigator Award Recipient. Robert Wood Johnson Health Investigator Award. Website:

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Funding hiv aids research in the current environment

Funding HIV/AIDS Research in the Current Environment

Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Ph.D.

Northwestern University

2009 NSF CAREER Award Recipient

2008 RWJ Health Investigator Award Recipient

Robert wood johnson health investigator award
Robert Wood Johnson Health Investigator Award

  • Website:

  • Lynn Rogut, ( - Deputy Director of The RWJ Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research

Who should apply
Who should apply?

  • Post-PhD scholars at any stage of their careers

  • Scholars doing research that can directly shape US health policy and US health care

  • International projects must be comparative (with the US as a case) and make a strong argument for its relevance for domestically-targeted health policy

  • Limit: two principal investigators/project

  • Looking for “highly qualified researchers pitching high quality projects”

Does the rwj health investigator awards program fund projects on hiv aids
Does the RWJ Health Investigator Awards Program fund projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Yes. They have funded projects looking at HIV/AIDS in the past and expect to fund more. The foundation does not see HIV/AIDS as an over-studied area and thinks that there is more work to be done in the field.

What resources do they offer
What resources do they offer? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Up to $335,000 to be used over 2-4 years

  • Time to research and write (most of the budget is to buy investigator’s time from teaching and other responsibilities)

  • Annual meeting of investigators for networking and presentation of research

  • Media training & media advisors to help promote research

  • Alumni network

  • “Unrivaled network of colleagues”

How competitive is the health investigator award
How competitive is the Health Investigator Award? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Received 325 letters of intent this year (250-300/year are standard) – Due in March

  • 50 researchers (solo and duos) invited to submit full proposals – Due in July

  • 10 projects selected by National Advisory Board in mid-December – presented to Foundation for funding approval

    The NAB reviews both LOI’s and full proposals.

What are they looking for
What are they looking for? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • BOLD NEW IDEAS ON THE CUTTING EDGE: study new problems, use new methods to study long-standing problems, offer new conceptual frameworks, show high social relevance & potential to inform national policy debates on health or health care

  • Interdisciplinary projects a plus, work should be conversant with a variety of fields

  • When assembling a funding class for the year, the NAB looks for diversity in terms of disciplines represented, research topics addressed, scholars’ demographic backgrounds, and scholars’ professional trajectories

What else is the nab looking for
What else is the NAB looking for? projects on HIV/AIDS?

Scholarly Profile that includes…

  • A diverse portfolio of projects –suggests wide grasp of field and broad network to advance research

  • Publications in leading journals “in the broadest sense,” ideally in outlets with a strong policy focus

  • Publications in mainstream outlets: op-ed pieces, articles written for the general public, presentations in a wide range of places

  • Established track record as a scholar: history of grant-receipt, publications, & public scholarship

What else is the nab looking for1
What else is the NAB looking for? projects on HIV/AIDS?

Proposals that…

  • Have clearly defined research questions, methods, and conceptual framework

  • Are written in language that is accessible

  • Are specific, “but not as specific as an NIH RO1 application.” Researchers should feel free to go where the research takes them even it strays a bit from the original proposal

  • Are “broad, intellectual, big-think projects,” opening new areas of inquiry that have national policy relevance

How do i apply
How do I apply? projects on HIV/AIDS?

Application Cycle (approximate dates):

  • January 15 - Call for Applications Announced

  • March 25 (5 p.m. ET) - Deadline for receipt of letters of intent (4 pgs max).

  • June 12 - Applicants notified whether they have been selected to submit a full proposal.

  • July 28 - Deadline for receipt of full proposals (20 pgs max). 

  • December 15 - Notification letters emailed to proposal applicants. 

  • April 1 to September 1 the following year - Acceptable start dates for projects.

What are some strategies for success
What are some strategies for success? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • The RWJFoundation website has tips for proposals, descriptions of the work of past investigators to serve as models, and comments from the NAB offering strategies for success.

  • Lynn will discuss project ideas with investigators before they submit letters of intent to offer suggestions and answer questions.

  • Think broadly about your network to see who to partner with as you design the project.

  • Start very early on your writing and get a lot of feedback from colleagues.

What are some strategies for success1
What are some strategies for success? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Work with your on-campus resources – policy centers and grants offices can offer technical assistance.

  • Take the LOI seriously, ensuring that every sentence packs a punch.

  • Think about showing your data analysis process in the proposal.

  • Work very hard on identifying the specific aims of the project, use precise language, and make sure that aims are developed in the grant

  • Be as specific as possible about methodology, conceptual framework

  • Watch those page limits

What about rwj foundation postdoc awards
What about RWJ Foundation postdoc awards? projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Focus on career development by offering a training component (mentoring and residency at RWJ Foundation-approved institutions)

Scholars in health policy research
Scholars in Health Policy Research projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Program for researchers who are early in their careers: must be within three years of Ph.D.

  • Disciplinary focus: sociology, economics, political science

  • Scholars must select an institution to be in residence: Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley (in collaboration with the University of California at San Francisco), or The University of Michigan.

  • Two-Year program

  • Call for proposals will come out in late August

Health and society scholars
Health and Society Scholars projects on HIV/AIDS?

  • Two-year Program

  • Scholars must select one of six institutions to be in residence.

  • Open to early and mid-career scholars

  • Fields including, but not limited to, behavioral and social sciences, biological and natural sciences, health professions, public policy, public health, history, demography, environmental sciences, urban planning, engineering and ethics

  • Call for proposals is currently out – Due Oct 2