This year continues with many changes for those seeking to obtain extramural funding: exciting and new opportunities, as well as changes that frankly can be a bit of a gamble for those applying for funding in the up-and-coming 2010 cycle.
First, Wait's over for Human Stem Cell Lines: the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry now has cell lines you can use for NIH-funded research. Under the new NIH Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research, NIH posted an initial 13 cell lines on December 2, and another 27 on December 14. For those of you interested in or affected by this news, here are some key points:
This is meant as a brief overview on this topic. The NIH websites I have highlighted with their links can provide you with as much detail as needed.
Writing That Shorter Research Plan is going to be one of the greatest challenges that faced in the new era of NIH changes. For those who have not written an application previously, this is a moot point. For others who were used to writing the 25 page document (and constantly repeating themselves), it is going to be a drastic change (document now only 15 pages total, but more like 12). Further, the absence of a highly structured outline leaves more room for creativity and perhaps greater challenge as to how to format for the diverse group of reviewers. Perhaps more than any other time, your application's appeal is probably its most important determinant of success. While making a movie is an imperfect analogy, it is the best one I can think of for illustrating the importance of creating a document that will spark enthusiasm in your reviewers, quickly (i.e., in the first 10 minutes!).
What makes an application alluring is no secret: it is in an area reviewers feel is important, and it is written so they can easily grasp its concepts (i.e., don’t make your reviewer have to search for that data). And it has to have coherence–for example, beginning investigators should propose a modest budget and a limited amount of work that is well within their expertise.
While none of the preceding is new, shorter applications are. No one knows for sure what reviewers will look for, but I believe that thinking and presenting your thoughts strategically is critical. For example, know how much information to include on significance–the importance of the problem to the field. While your reviewers must see your research as significant, the amount you will write depends on your reviewers' expertise: include more or less detail depending on the expertise of your audience. This also relates to the study section you choose to submit to (yes, you choose, in your cover letter; NIH tends to follow through with your request). A more focused study section, means less on this; a more broad group, means write more broadly and provide more info. Similarly, knowing your prospective reviewers' perspective is more important than ever before–including their views of your project and bigger questions in the field. Again, the latter goes back to identifying carefully your study section (and their members, who are listed, and a PubMed search of their research areas is just a click away). This will allow you to convince them that your project is of high significance and you are the person to do the work. You will do that by giving them the information they need based on their perspective.
The Thrasher Research Fund is dedicated to improving the health of children across the world through medical research. The Fund provides financial support to researchers whose innovative ideas hold promise to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric illness and disease. The Fund emphasizes research that is hypothesis-driven and has a reasonable distance to clinical applicability. For this reason, the majority of funded research studies are either clinical or pre-clinical in nature. A grant application component requires the investigator to highlight how quickly the results would translate to clinical application. The award mechanism typically involves a submission of “letter of intent” by the applicant. After review, the Fund will notify the applicant if they are to submit a complete application, which involves both an electronic and paper format. The overall format of the application is not arduous and involves providing both a lay and a scientific summary. Budget submissions are also more focused on the overall needs of the study and not modular or line-item. Award amounts are variable; the median award in 2009 was $230,000. In 2006 the Fund initiated an additional award mechanism designed to encourage the next generation of researchers in pediatric health. Current or recent fellows and recent post-docs are eligible to apply for 30 awards of $25,000 to be made in 2010. The staff for Thrasher Research Foundation is extremely helpful. Their goal is to help the investigators succeed with their research, so that affected children can benefit in turn. Beneficial feedback is often provided during the review processes that further strengthen the proposed research.
Since 1996, The Children’s Heart Foundation has funded 30 research projects with more than $2.5 million. They recently called upon all investigators to submit clinical research proposals on congenital heart disease by June 4, 2010.
35 copies of each grant, with an abbreviated CV, are required, including any published work in the research proposal area.
Copies sent via US Mail should be sent to: The Children’s Heart Foundation, PO Box 244, Lincolnshire, IL 60069-0244.
Copies sent via FedEx, UPS, etc., should be sent to: The Children’s Heart Foundation, 620 Margate Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069.
The Medical Advisory Board of the Children’s Heart Foundation will review the submitted proposals in late Fall 2010; those recommended will receive funding in December 2010. Investigators should contact the Children’s Heart Foundation for an application or download an application at their site.
For more information, including previously funded proposals, visit the site directly, or contact the foundation by phone (847) 634-6474 or fax (847) 634-4988.
Publication Date: 29-Mar-2010
Last Modified: 26-Apr-2010