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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

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what you need to know winning a k grant

What you Need to Know: Winning a K-Grant

Amy D. Waterman, PhD

K01 Recipient

mentorship grants why should i get a k grant
Mentorship GrantsWhy 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.
what people think you need to win a k grant
What People Think you Need to Win a K-Grant

Promise as a researcher

A Great Research Idea

Strong Mentor and Institution

director of nimh thomas insel
Director of NIMH, 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
What you Really Need: 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

What you Need to Know

NIH K-Grant Knowledge

purpose of a k grant
Purpose of a K-Grant

To provide support for supervised study

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

specifics of k awards
Specifics of K Awards
  • 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.
learning about k grants
Learning about K-Grants
  • 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
grants for early stage phds
Grants for Early Stage PhDs

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

As a health professional M.D, have you successfully

competed for independent research funding?






K12 K18

K23 K25

what you need to know17

What you Need to Know

Well Prepared K-Grant




The Hidden Question:

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


The Answer to the Hidden Question

  • 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.
environmental commitment
Environmental Commitment
  • 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
strong mentor s
Strong Mentor(s)
  • 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…
strong references
Strong References
  • 3 well-known senior researchers
  • Researchers who know you: advisor, collaborators on past research, past employers
  • Also helpful if from different department or institution
what you need to know23

What you Need to Know

Your Attributes

a strong applicant
A Strong Applicant
  • 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
getting for pilot data
Getting $ for Pilot Data

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,(indrigoj@msnotes.wustl.edu; 286-0009)
what to prepare
What to Prepare


  • Non-Research Plan
  • Research Plan – “the science”
  • Abstract



non research plan sections take this seriously
Non-Research Plan Sections(Take This Seriously!)
  • Candidate Background
  • Career Goals & Objectives
  • Career Development Plan
  • Mentor’s Statement
  • Environment & Institutional Commitment
  • Budget
  • Collaborators
candidate background
Candidate Background

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

career goals objectives
Career Goals & Objectives
  • 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
Career Development Plan
  • 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.
mentor s statement
Mentor’s Statement
  • 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
other non research plan sections
Other Non-Research Plan Sections
  • 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

Research Plan:

“The Science”

25 Pages


  • Specific Aims
  • Background
  • Significance
  • Preliminary Studies and Results
  • Research Design and Methods

Points to keep in mind

  • 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.
the important first page
The Important First Page
  • 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


  • 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



  • 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
specific aims
Specific Aims
  • 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?

hypotheses aims
Hypotheses & Aims



  • 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
Background and Significance
  • 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.
preliminary studies and results
Preliminary Studies and Results
  • 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
research design and methods
Research Design and Methods
  • 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.
  • 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/


Writing Timeline

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
k grant due dates
K-Grant Due Dates

Feb 1

June 1

October 1

what you need to know46

What you Need to Know

Internal WUSM Grant Requirements

budget grants
Budget & Grants
  • 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
grants contracts
Grants & Contracts
  • 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!
grading your grant
Grading your Grant

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

nih grant evaluation
NIH Grant Evaluation
  • 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.
communicating with nih
Communicating with NIH

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.

3 outcomes
3 Outcomes

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
all you need to win a k the full picture
All You Need To Win a K : The Full Picture

A Grant-Winning Strategy

  • NIH Knowledge
  • A Well-Prepared K-Grant
  • Knowledge of Internal WUSM Grants and Contracts Requirements