Road to the Professoriate
How to get an NIH R01
Society for Developmental Biology
July 28, 2005
Support of biomedical research at US universities
NSF, DOD, DOA, DOE, NASA 12
HHMI, ACS, other private 11
US public supports government funding for research
2004 Research!America Health Poll
National Institutes of Health
A federation of 22 separate Institutes and Centers; ; one of the agencies of the Public
Health Service, , which in turn is part of the US Department of Health and Human
Eighteen Institutes fund biomedical research grants:
National Cancer Institute
National Eye Institute
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institute on Aging
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of General Medical Sciences National Institute e of Mental Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institute of Nursing Research
Center for Information Technology
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Center for Research Resources
• Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
NIH R01 Grants: Investigator-Initiated
Two levels of review:
1. Study Section (committee of expert scientists)
Assess scientific merit
Your contact: Scientific Review Administrator (SRA)
2. Institute Council (scientists and nonscientists)
Assess relevance to institute, program portfolio
Your contact: Program Director
CRITERIA FOR RATING OF NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS
Each review must address each of the following:
•address an important problem?
•will scientific knowledge be advanced?
•effect on concepts or methods in this field?
•experimental design and methods appropriate to aims?
•acknowledge problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
•employ novel concepts, approaches or methods?
•challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies?
•appropriately trained to carry out work?
•appropriate work for experience of P.I. and collaborators?
•contribute to the probability of success?
•evidence of institutional support?
Components of the NIH grant application
Progress Report/Preliminary Results
Other important stuff
Consider Research Plan: Conceptual elements
Conceptual elements: finding the right questions,
ideas, scope, breadth
• A well-rationalized, clearly stated objective and general strategy
• A substantial impact of your study on your field of interest
• A focused set of 3-53
• A Research Design and Methods plan that blends a majority of
highly feasible elements together with a minority of bold, novel,
high impact elements
• A broad perspective that links and demonstrates relevance of
your study to other fields
Writing strategy: Getting “feed-forward”
• Assemble a grant mentoring team of three senior colleagues, all
experienced with NIH grant review
• Before writing anything, discuss (90 min) your grant ideas with your
• Write one page, 3-53
Specific Aims; discuss (90 min) with your
• Draft Progress Report/Preliminary Results, then Research Design and
Methods, then Abstract, then Background and Significance
• Get feedback from your mentoring team (and others)
Grantsmanship: : Connecting with reviewers
and the review process
• Interact with Study Section Scientific Review Admistrator (SRA) before
submission, and with SRA and Institute Program Director after review
• Address the criteria for rating of grant applications: significance, approach,
innovation, investigator, environment
• Transparent organization: state objective, strategy and s specific aims in
and Specific Aims; ; use s specific aims as headers for Research
Design and Methods
• Set the stage with the Background and Significance: rationalize the
questions that you propose to answer; underline key gaps in knowledge k
unanswered questions that you will pursue
• One paragraph of Perspectives (or Long Term Goals) ) at end of Methods to
put experiments in larger context and demonstrate impact
• For amended applications, be gracious but firm in Introduction; address
specific criticisms, but also consider from a broader frame of reference
The only possible source for adequate support of our
medical schools and medical research is the taxing power
of the Federal Government. …such a program must
assure complete freedom for the institutions and the
individual scientists in developing and conducting their
Surgeon General Thomas Parran
Research is always something of an adventure.
The more freedom it enjoys, the more likely it is
to achieve important results.
National Resources Committee,
Research –– A National Resource, 1935