April 2012

Navigating the NIH grant-application process

The “Research Strategy” section includes the following:  

  1. 1. Significance
        a. Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the project will address.
        b. Explain how the project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields.
        c. Describe how the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services or preventative interventions that drive this field will be changed if the aims are achieved.
  2. 2. Innovation
        a. Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift research or clinical-practice paradigms.
        b. Describe novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, and instrumentation or intervention(s) to be developed or used and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation or intervention(s).
        c. Explain refinements, improvements or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
  3. 3. Approach
        a. Describe the overall strategy, methodology and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims. Provide evidence of feasibility – not a miniature version of the proposed study.
        b. Discuss potential problems, alternative strategies and benchmarks for success anticipated.

Crafting your biographical sketch
The bio sketch requires a personal statement that briefly describes why your experience and qualifications make you particularly well suited for your role in the project.

Having your application scored
The IRG will review your application and assign it a score from 1 – 9. A score of 1 is the highest, given to a grant considered exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses; 9 is considered poor, with very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses.

In summary, a great proposal is a solid, exciting idea that is well expressed with a clear indication of methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, making them known to all who need to know and – for the NIH – indicating the overall impact to the scientific community.

Watch the video below from the NIH Center for Scientific Review for tips for new grant applicants:

minority_affairs_authorSonia C. Flores (sonia.flores@ucdenver.edu) is a member of the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee and a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus.

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Excellent summary of important information!



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