What Grantees Are Saying:
“Meg’s training was comprehensive, tailored to the needs of early career investigators, and contained unique insights that clearly reflect her extensive background in working with the NIH. I eagerly look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.”
“Just a quick note to say thank you for having me at the K08 grant workshop yesterday. It was a great session and I learned a ton – mostly about how much I don’t know! I am looking forward to working with the group and Dr. Bouvier moving forward. Thanks for … the opportunity to get involved in this great resource!”
“I just wanted to thank you for yesterday’s K writing workshop — it was so helpful!! I’m looking forward to working with the group as we all move forward with our grants.”
“Thank you so much for the incredible day. I look forward to working with [Meg] over the course of the grant submission process.”
“Meg, amazing job yesterday. I’ve been reflecting on many things you said that were either new to me or valuable for me to revisit. And I think it was great content for our trainees.”
Attendees at on-site K training, top-5 medical center
- Prepare for and write a strong draft of an NIH K submission
- Employ best grantwriting practices, based on recently funded NIH K submissions
- Revise and critique your own and others’ draft K submissions
(Description formatted for CME application.)
SUMMARY OF COURSE SECTIONS:
1. Preparation, Candidate Section, Letters of Support
Should you apply for a K, and if so, which one? To which institute? Is the project idea sound? Is your mentoring team a good one? My most successful clients spend a lot of time preparing to write a grant submission. I will discuss strategies for optimizing success on your NIH submission, including familiarizing yourself with NIH’s funding priorities, finding your niche in the funding portfolio via the Reporter website, discussing your mentoring team, project, and options with program officers, and shopping around your draft Aims to find the best possible IC and FOA fit. I will also discuss the writing of the Candidate Section, providing an array of recently funded samples from across the spectrum of K submissions. Finally, I will discuss how to draft the Letters of Support, which unbeknownst to most K grantees, are actually written in large part by the grantee.
2. Specific Aims, Mistakes Commonly Made
The one-page Aims document is arguably the most important narrative section of an NIH submission. It is the first section I write, and the one that undergoes the most revisions. It must quickly convey what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the impact your results will have on clinical care. If you learn to write a well-honed Aims document, it will open the door to success in writing other sections, and in writing persuasively about your work in general. Attendees will be given examples of funded Aims documents as well as a version into which I have inserted mistakes I typically see from grantees, in order for you to practice editing. Finally, I will discuss mistakes I typically see made not just on K submissions, but also by junior faculty and by NIH grantees in general.
3. Significance and Innovation
The Significance and Innovation sections are all about persuading your reviewers about the merits of your project. You must concisely describe the disease burden, scientific premise, knowledge gap, and how your project will fill the knowledge gap and reduce the disease burden. You must also clearly articulate your competitive advantages over previous and current approaches. I describe a writing strategy to help reviewers quickly grasp the key points of these important sections, which are part of your scored Research Plan. I provide funded examples and exercises to help you edit and write more competitively. Grantees often struggle to write these “sales-y” sections; I will help ensure that reviewers both in and outside your field come away persuaded of the significance, innovation, and impact of the work you propose.
This section is based on the classic IMRAD writing style (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion), which most researchers have used since their high school lab reports and continue to use in their publications. That said, it is not easy to write this section well, and K grantees must be careful that a poor score on the Research Plan does not drag down their Mentoring Plan score as well, given that a poorly designed project is often blamed on a lack of mentoring. I will discuss strategies for structuring this important section and describe the reviewer comments I typically see.