Pearls of Wisdom from Study Section Members
Sitting with a stack of 40 grants to review is a sure way to get focused on what makes a grant submission strong. The following pointers are from Dr. Chris Eischen, a multi-R01 funded cancer investigator and Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Listen up. As a grantsmanship heavy hitter and NCI study section member, she knows what she is talking about:
- Make sure you are asking an important question for the field, and also make sure it is not an incremental advance.
- Provide preliminary data to support each aim.
- Write for a general audience, but make sure there are some details that only experts will know; in other words, do not assume experts in your field will review it, but if they do, you need to look like you have a depth of knowledge.
- Be clear and concise throughout and provide logical, understandable lines of thought for what you are proposing and why you are proposing it.
- Emphasize the importance of the research proposed to humans.
- Start writing a new grant months ahead of time to allow time for ideas to simmer and to obtain input from others. Have multiple people (inside and outside field) at least a month before planning on submitting critique your application.
- Propose interesting experiments with at least some cutting-edge technology.
- Apply to both federal and private grant agencies, but need to write differently for each.
- When responding to grant critiques, be positive and appreciative and not angry or irritated; answer all points.
- For the parts of the grant you lack expertise, make sure you line up collaborators and/or consultants (to help write, critique, and/or just help with experiments if funded).
Chris Eischen, PhD
Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, Cancer Biology