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:

  1. Make sure you are asking an important question for the field, and also make sure it is not an incremental advance.
  2. Provide preliminary data to support each aim.
  3. 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.
  4. Be clear and concise throughout and provide logical, understandable lines of thought for what you are proposing and why you are proposing it.
  5. Emphasize the importance of the research proposed to humans.
  6. 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.
  7. Propose interesting experiments with at least some cutting-edge technology.
  8. Apply to both federal and private grant agencies, but need to write differently for each.
  9. When responding to grant critiques, be positive and appreciative and not angry or irritated; answer all points.
  10. 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).


Contributed by

Chris Eischen, PhD
Associate Professor
Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, Cancer Biology

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