Archive for the ‘NIH grant tricks’ Tag

New Webinar: NIH Submission Strategies — Register Now!

You have a cool idea for a research project, now what? The second in my new webinar series addresses NIH Submission Strategies. As a person who works on NIH submissions full time, I know there are certain steps you can take before you write a single word that correlate with better scores and outcomes.

Some of these steps include the following: taking the time to understand the priorities of the stakeholders involved, including reading Appropriations Reports; learning which projects are already in the NIH funding portfolio to ascertain how you might adjust your idea to fit in; identifying multiple ICs (not just an obvious one) and shopping around different versions of your Specific Aims to gauge enthusiasm; building a relationship with the all-important Program Officer, who will help guide questions related to study design, FOA, ESI status, and study section; and understanding the review process and audience before you write.

Your team will invest hundreds of hours in your submission. Why not spend 90 minutes learning some tried-and-true strategies to use before you write that will optimize your chance of success? I probably work on more NIH submissions in a month than you will work on across your entire career. I’ve helped clients land over $200 million in federal funds, and I can help strengthen your submission and improve your grantsmanship as well.

REGISTER FOR ALL 3 WEBINARS AND SAVE!
Bundle with two more webinars and save! Three webinars for $499.

Read about all three webinars, including “Mistakes Commonly Made on NIH Grant Applications” and “How To Write The Specific Aims.”

NIH Submission Strategies

Who: Essential for grantees planning to submit an R01, R21, or R03 in an upcoming cycle, and the senior faculty and administrators who advise them.
When: Wednesday 11 February 2015, 11am-12:30pm EST or
Thursday 19 February 2015, 11am-12:30pm EST
Cost: $199; Or register for all three webinars this month for $499
Takeaways: At the end of this 90-minute session, participants will be able to:

1. Utilize the Reporter website to identify their niche in the funding portfolio
2. Identify likely ICs, POs, and FOAs
3. Write several drafts of their Aims to send to POs
4. Choose the most appropriate IC, FOA, and study section with PO guidance

REGISTER NOW!

Posted February 5, 2015 by Meg Bouvier in Freelance medical writing, medical grant writing, NIH grantwriting

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New Webinar: “Mistakes Commonly Made on NIH Grant Applications”

In an effort to provide cost-effective training to the broadest group possible, I am launching a series of webinars in the upcoming months. The first of these will be in early February, and the goal will be to help grantees recognize and correct common submission mistakes.

Unlike many who conduct NIH submission training programs, I myself work on NIH submissions full time. I see clients make the same types of mistakes repeatedly– mistakes that are easily avoided.

Each year I am fortunate to have dozens of clients share their Summary Statements with me. Because I regularly read reviewer comments from a multitude of study sections, I can easily identify trends in pink sheets. I also keep track of evolving trends at NIH based on information I find in FOAs, Notices, and Appropriations Testimony. Study sections change, funding priorities evolve. It is important to understand NIH’s priorities right now.

I have helped clients land over $200 million in federal funds in the past five years. Your NIH submission will entail several hundred hours of work by you and others. Why not learn strategies to optimize your success on this and future submissions?

What: Webinar entitled “Mistakes Commonly Made on NIH Grant Applications

Who: Ideal for faculty preparing to submit a K, R21, R03, or R01 in an upcoming cycle, and the senior faculty and administrators who advise them.

When:Wednesday 4 February 2015, 11am-12:30pm EST or
Thursday 12 February 2015, 11am-12:30pm EST
Cost: $149
Takeaways: At the end of this 90-minute session, participants will be able to:
1) Predict some key criticisms reviewers may make
2) Identify problems in their or their colleague’s draft applications
3) Utilize that information to write stronger drafts

NIH Simplifies Policy on Late Applications

NIH might give you a two-week grace period on late applications. For details, see the Notice issued Dec 2014.

Examples of Reasons Why Late Applications Might Be Accepted

  • Death of an immediate family member of the PD/PI (or MPI).
  • Sudden acute severe illness of the PD/PI (MPI) or immediate family member.
  • Temporary or ad hoc service by a PD/PI on an NIH advisory group during the two months preceding or the two months following the application due date. Examples of qualifying service include: participation in an NIH study section/special emphasis panel, NIH Board of Scientific Counselors, Program Advisory Committee, or an NIH Advisory Board/Council. Qualifying service does not include participation in NIH activities other than those involved in extramural/intramural peer review or NIH Advisory Council/Board service.
  • Delays due to weather, natural disasters, or other emergency situations, not to exceed the time the applicant organization is closed.
  • For PD/PIs who are eligible for continuous submission (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/peer/continuous_submission.htm), the late application policy applies to activities not covered under the continuous submission policy (i.e., other than R01, R21, and R34 funding opportunities that use standard due dates).

 

Examples of Reasons Why Late Applications Will Not Be Accepted

  • Heavy teaching or administrative responsibilities, relocation of a laboratory, ongoing or non-severe health problems, personal events, participation in review activities for other Federal agencies or private organizations, attendance at scientific meetings, or a very busy schedule.
  • Review service for participants other than a PD/PI or MPI, acute health issues or death in the family of a participant other than a PD/PI or MPI.
  • Problems with computer systems at the applicant organization, problems with a system-to-system grant submission service, or failure to complete or renew required registrations in advance of the application due date.
  • Failure to follow instructions in the Application Guide or funding opportunity announcement.
  • Correction of errors or addressing warnings after 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the application due date. Applicants are encouraged to submit in advance of the due date to allow time to correct errors and/or address warnings identified in the NIH validation process.

– See more at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-039.html#sthash.flUVBOvk.dpuf

NIH Grantwriting Webinar Series Begins in February 2015!

We are happy to announce that in addition to one-on-one consulting, workshops, and seminars, we are now adding webinars to our menu of options to help NIH grantees. Upcoming webinars:

Mistakes Commonly Made On NIH Grant Applications
Benefit from the knowledge gained by a grantwriter who reads dozens of Summary Statements per year.

Wednesday 4 February, 11am-12:30pm EST or Thursday 12 February, 11am-12:30pm EST

NIH Submission Strategies
Take steps to optimize your chance of success before you write.

Wednesday 11 February, 11am-12:30pm EST or Thursday 19 February, 11am-12:30pm EST

How To Write The Specific Aims Of An NIH R01
Learn how to make the most important section of your submission compelling and persuasive.

Wednesday 25 February, 11am-12:30pm EST or Tuesday 3 March, 11am-12:30pm EST

Learn More!

NIH Issues Draft Policy That Would Require A Single IRB For Multi-Site Clinical Trials

For years, grantees have been encouraged to use a shared IRB in multi-site clinical trials as part of shared research networks at NCI, and it appears to increase efficiency without compromising protection. In early December 2014, NIH released a draft policy proposing that multi-site trials in the U.S. be required to use a single IRB. NCI has already conducted an analysis demonstrating that a single IRB decreases time and costs when compared to having individual IRB at each participating clinical site. To read and comment on the draft policy, click here. NIH is eliciting input until January 29, 2015. A commonly used model of joint IRB review is IRBshare, which according to its website “facilitates the sharing of full board approved documents between IRBs, accelerates the initial review process by enabling a temporary reliance between IRBs, and minimizes the need for all sites to conduct a full board review.” See the IRBshare website for details.

Dr. Bouvier Interviewed on Grantsmanship for the Journal Nature

We invite you to read Dr. Bouvier’s comments on grantsmanship in an article in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

The article, entitled, “Impact: Pack a Punch”, discusses the importance of impact in proposed research projects. It included comments from scientists and funding agency administrators from a wide variety of scientific fields in numerous countries. Dr. Bouvier was the only professional grantwriter who participated in the article.

Nature, a prominent international journal published weekly, remains one of the few journals to publish research spanning all of the scientific disciplines. It is one of the most widely cited journals in science worldwide.

Dr. Bouvier provided permission for her information to be translated for their Japanese and Arabic editions.

Posted October 21, 2013 by Meg Bouvier in Biomedical research, Freelance medical writing, medical grant writing, medical policy writing, NIH grantwriting

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Looking For Good NIH Funding News? Check Out FY12 SBIR/STTR Funding Levels

With all the despondency over the NIH budget situation, I feel the need to broadcast some good news. Last year I blogged on the plummeting funding levels for SBIR and STTR grant applications. I am happy to report that FY12 numbers are out and they may be a lone bright spot on an otherwise bleak NIH funding landscape. What do you think? Good news or too little, too late? Does it make you want to run out and write a Phase II SBIR?:

SBIR ONLY:

YEAR Phase I Phase II Fast Track
2008 27.1% 47.7% 31.4%
2009 21.9% 40.5% 23.1%
2010 13.7% 33.5% 15.6%
2011 11.5% 29.8% 10.3%
2012 15.6% 39.9% 15.9%
YEAR Total # SBIR/STTR Applications Reviewed Total # SBIR/STTRApplications Awarded Total Funding SBIR/STTR
2008 4356 1242 $341,059,957
2009 4529 1108 $339,594,601
2010 6338 1079 $334,370,963
2011 6415 902 $311,127,665
2012 5847 1095 $366,812,604

Significant Budget Cuts Imminent For the National Institutes of Health

Guest Blog by Luke Bouvier, PhD

In a notice issued a few days ago on February 21, the NIH released some additional details about its contingency plans if sequestration goes into effect this Friday, March 1, as scheduled.  In order to hit the mandated 5.1% budget cut, the NIH “likely will reduce the final FY 2013 funding levels of non-competing continuation grants and expects to make fewer competing awards.”  Non-competing continuation awards, which have generally been funded this year at 90% of the previous commitment level because of the ongoing budget uncertainty, may see some restoration above the current level “but likely will not reach the full FY 2013 commitment level described in the Notice of Award.”  The NIH also confirmed that in the event of the budget sequester, each of the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers will detail its own approach to meeting the reduced budget level.

Science likewise reported that a press conference held at the NIH last week confirmed the bleak budget outlook.  NIH Director Francis Collins and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) warned that the coming sequester cut of $1.57 billion to the NIH’s $31 billion budget would “slow scientific progress, delay clinical trials, and put a generation of young researchers at risk.”  Collins reported that “everything will take a hit,” though Institute directors will be able to use their discretion in allocating cuts among programs such as single-investigator grants, centers, and intramural research.  Referring to NIH staff and intramural researchers, Collins added that “we will do everything we can to try not to furlough or to lay off employees.”  Nobel Prize winner Carol Greider, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University, also appeared at the press conference and lamented that the looming cuts could reduce NIH’s grant success rate from an already-low 17-18% down to 15%, which would translate to a reduction of grants in the hundreds, forcing cutbacks in biomedical labs throughout the country.  Collins confirmed that many high-scoring grant proposals have not received any funding yet at all because of the lack of budgetary clarity, adding that “some of that science is being held up as we try to figure out what resources we actually have in fiscal year ’13.”  Though few observers now believe that the sequester cuts can still be averted by March 1, Senator Mikulski, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, hopes that the NIH cuts will eventually be remedied in a budgetary deal to fund the federal government through the remainder of the current fiscal year.  That deal would have to be reached before the current Continuing Resolution expires on March 27, or else a government shutdown could result.

Posted February 25, 2013 by Meg Bouvier in Biomedical research, medical grant writing, medical policy writing, NIH grantwriting

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Sequester Cuts to the NIH Budget Look Increasingly Likely

Guest Blog by Luke Bouvier, PhD

The day of reckoning is fast approaching as concerns the sweeping federal budget cuts known as “sequestration,” scheduled to go into effect on March 1.  Originally slated for January 1, 2013, the cuts were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was enacted as part of that year’s fight over the increase in the federal debt ceiling.  In the hope that a long-term budget deal would make the automatic cuts unnecessary, their implementation was postponed by the New Year’s Day deal that averted the so-called “fiscal cliff,” but most observers now agree that there is little appetite for a political compromise that could avoid them once again.  On January 24, incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released a memo outlining the history of the budget deals reached over the past two years as well as the current state of affairs.  The details are messy, but the consequences for the NIH are clear:  a cut of approximately 5.1% to the current year’s budget, or $1.57 billion, which would be all the more severe in that it would have to be squeezed into the remaining seven months of the fiscal year.

In an interview with Politico last month, NIH Director Francis Collins called the impending cuts “a profound and devastating blow” to medical research, adding that “there’s no sort of lever you can pull and all of a sudden everything will be fine” in the face of a cut of that magnitude.  Collins noted that over the past ten years, the NIH budget has been essentially flat, which means that inflation has whittled away about 20% of its value.  The looming cuts would greatly exacerbate that trend, at a time when cancer research is “just exploding with potential,” Collins said.  “We could go faster and faster; … it’s an incredibly exciting science, but it will go slower.”

Nature reported last week that scientists are already cutting back expenditures in anticipation of the cuts.  Senior officials at the science agencies are under White House orders not to discuss specific plans for implementing the cuts, but the Office of Management and Budget has directed them to minimize the impact of the cuts on their core missions and to give priority to concerns over life, safety, or health.  Nature reports that the cuts to the NIH budget would be spread over all of its 27 institutes and centers, with only its Clinical Center spared in order to avoid putting patients’ lives in danger.  Directors would have some discretion in apportioning the cuts, as long as the total adds up to 5.1%.  Given the uncertainty, the NIH has been paying only 90% of the promised amounts for previously awarded grants; if the sequester goes into effect, the final 10% of these grants would almost certainly suffer a significant cut, leaving principal investigators with difficult spending decisions to make.

As if sequestration weren’t enough, looming right behind it is another impending budget crisis, as the current fiscal year’s Continuing Resolution expires on March 27.  If no budget deal is reached by then, a government shut-down is a real possibility.  And following along close behind that deadline is the expiration of the debt ceiling suspension on May 19, which could lead to a US government default on its payment obligations in the absence of congressional action.

Posted February 17, 2013 by Meg Bouvier in Biomedical research, Freelance medical writing, medical grant writing, medical policy writing, NIH grantwriting

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How I Transitioned From Bench Science To Medical Writing

I get emails weekly from people who want to know how to switch from bench science to medical writing. I don’t have a good answer, but I can share how it happened for me, which was a combination of luck, persistence, and New York-style chutzpah.

Soon after I began my post-doc at NINDS, a postcard arrived in our lab saying, “Congratulations Dr. Baker, you have been chosen from among hundreds of applicants to be one of a dozen post-doctoral fellows to participate in a prestigious writing seminar.” The workshop was to be taught by Dr. Ruth Levy Guyer, herself a bench scientist-turned-renowned writer of books, essays, articles, reviews, and commentaries. As luck would have it, Dr. Baker had departed for a job at Genentech the week before. Naturally I went to the workshop, and was permitted to stay because Dr. Guyer admired my moxy. I enjoyed her course thoroughly and remember many of her lessons to this day.

I love to write. Invariably the feedback on my dissertation, grant applications, and journal articles began with praise for the writing. So when a fellow post-doc asked me to edit an article for her because she was bogged down with work, I readily accepted. It was not a research article—she volunteered as an editor for a journal called Women In Science. I enjoyed editing the article so much that I too began to volunteer. Soon thereafter the editor, Pam Hines (a senior editor at Science magazine), gave me a column as well.

One day an article arrived for me to edit, and the author was none other than Dr. Guyer. The idea of editing the work of my writing teacher filled me with dread. I must have proven myself a marginally acceptable editor, because afterward Ruth graciously informed me that her husband worked for NHGRI and that soon the institute would be advertising for a staff writer. Was I interested?

I was not on the job market and had never considered leaving my post-doc after just two years. But off I went to see Leslie Fink, the head of communications at NHGRI. I had no writing samples but Leslie took a chance on me: Had I seen a movie lately? Could I write a review?

So I landed my first medical writing position with a “review” of the wonderful Muhammad Ali documentary “When We Were Kings.” Leslie took a risk, but so did I: I agreed to work at my post-doc salary, which was half what they paid writers; but worse, I agreed to work for six months with no obligation for them to hire me. The conventional wisdom was that if you left the bench for six months, you were finished in medical research. So I was burning a bridge with no promise of a future in writing.

My lab chief at NINDS thought I had lost my mind. My department chair at Mt. Sinai Medical School, where I had earned my Ph.D., called to express his dismay, telling me, “You are one of the ones who would have made it.” (My dissertation had been published as a two-author paper in a prestigious journal.) My research colleagues almost without exception told me frankly that I was making a huge mistake and would live to regret it.

I didn’t. I set to work at NHGRI, happily clocking the insane hours to which I had grown accustomed as a post-doc. Those working in government administration are not necessarily known for working long hours, so I quickly impressed my supervisors with my hard work, if not my dazzling writing skills. Shortly after arriving they advertised for a writer (“Seeking a medical writer with curly brown hair and blue eyes, who plays French horn and piano and trained as a dancer…”—the ad fell just short of this level of specificity) and I became an inside hire, as often is the case at NIH.

I learned a great deal while working in the Office of Press, Policy, and Communications, as the NHGRI budget at the time allowed for only one staff writer position. I drafted press releases, fact sheets, policy documents, appropriations testimony, budget justifications to Congress, meeting summaries, and annual reports. I helped with fact checking, press prep, lecture prep, speech writing, and book chapters. I even got to work on a Shattuck lecture for the New England Journal of Medicine. Leslie Fink was patience personified in teaching me the basics. I learned about policy from Dr. Kathy Hudson, our hard-nosed and extremely talented policy wonk who was herself a former bench scientist (Kathy is now in a top leadership position at NIH.) I had the extreme good fortune to work under Dr. Francis Collins, then NHGRI Director and head of the Human Genome Project (now NIH Director.) Those who read my blog already know of my high regard for Dr. Collins.

Take-home messages for those looking to transition from bench science to medical writing:

  • Be persistent. Expect that most avenues you pursue will lead nowhere. When I started my own medical writing company, I must have shaken a thousand hands at hundreds of onerous networking functions before I got a break. When I was considering a career change, I joined National Association of Science Writers (NASW), D.C. Science Writers Association (DCSWA; lyrically pronounced “duck-swa”), and later the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). I participated in any and all forums they offered, both electronically and otherwise.
  • Be pushy. Joe Palca, science correspondent for NPR (and married to Kathy Hudson), gave a talk on how to break into science writing. His advice was, “Shamelessly exploit every contact you have,” or something to that effect. When considering a career change, I told every person I came across, whether they were in research, writing, or they happened to be sitting next to me on the metro. Hey, you never know. When that postcard arrived in the lab announcing Dr. Baker’s acceptance into a writing workshop, there was no question that I would go in her stead.
  • Take risks. I accepted the position at NHGRI knowing they had no obligation to hire me at the end of my contract, and knowing that I could not return to bench science. Had I not done so, I would probably still be plating cells and running gels.
  • Expect to work your arse off. I succeeded at my first writing job in large part because of the hours I put in. Later, I succeeded at launching a medical writing company in the middle of a recession while living in the middle of nowhere, in large part because I worked seven days a week. My company has been extremely successful, and I still work seven days a week. If you love what you do, you won’t mind, or even notice, usually. (Please note however that your family will notice. And mind.)
  • Don’t be bothered by the naysayers. I took an enormous amount of flack from my research colleagues when I made the switch. This is only troublesome if you fail afterward. When you succeed, they will all suffer collective amnesia concerning their doubts and criticism, and will be full of praise for your successes.
  • Do it for free. Perhaps the best piece of career advice I have ever received. If you want to transition into something new, do it for free for a while, at least part time (time and finances permitting.) I volunteered to write and edit at a free journal. It led to my first job offer, and put me in contact with an editor at Science magazine. I also accepted my first writing position at a greatly reduced salary (short-term). Few people will turn down free (or greatly reduced cost) work, and it will help you gain experience, contacts, writing samples, and references in your field.

I hope this story is helpful to someone, or at least was mildly entertaining. Best of luck to anyone looking to make the switch!

Posted January 22, 2013 by Meg Bouvier in Freelance medical writing, NIH grantwriting

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