Predoctoral Grants

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    Funding Sources
    (… and tips for getting your
     own pre-doctoral funding)
             Jennifer S. Fang
5th year Doctoral Candidate, Physiological Sciences GIDP
How are you currently funded?
• Graduate program
• Training grant
• Research assistantship
• Outside government (some int’l
• Self-supported
• Independent funding (pre-doc grant)
    Why should you apply for
• Money – some programs grant a bonus
  for independent funding
• CV – establishing a funding history
• Experience – learning to write a grant
• Organize / Focus research
• Supplies – more experiments
• Travel (meetings, training)
           Where to look?
• (
             NIH Grants

•   Research Grants (R series)
•   Career Development Awards (K series)
•   Training Grants (T series)
•   Fellowships (F series)
  NIH Research Project Grant
       Program (R01)

- Support a discrete, specified research project

- NIH's most commonly used grant program

- No specific dollar limit (unless specified)

- Generally awarded for 3 -5 years
      NIH Small Grant Program
- Support a variety of types of projects
  -   Pilot or feasibility studies
  -   Collection of preliminary data
  -   Secondary analysis of existing data
  -   Small, self-contained research projects
  -   Development of new research technology
- Maximum two years of funding
- Generally up to $50,000 per year
- Not renewable
             NIH Grants

•   Research Grants (R series)
•   Career Development Awards (K series)
•   Training Grants (T series)
•   Fellowships (F series)
  Main differences
R series vs T/F series

•   Amount of money
•   Duration
•   Advisor-dependent
•   Preliminary data
•   Where you are in your career
NRSA Fellowship and Training Grants
          (F & T awards)
 Training grants vs Fellowships
 Awarded to institutions    Awarded to students for
     that then select        supervised research
 individual students for      (hands on) training

Broad, multidisciplinary    Specific research topic
training in biomedical,      (dissertation project)
 health and behavioral

Develop research skills     Develop research skills

Responsibility of          Responsibility of
institution to apply       student to apply
and obtain                 and obtain
       Funding Opportunities
• (NIH) NRSA Predoctoral Fellowships (F30/F31)
      • NIH promotes research with the aim of
        addressing major health concerns
      • Description:
          – 3-5 year fellowship that can be extended up to
             max. 6 years
          – Designed for a MD/PhD student
      • Requirements:
          – Citizen, non-citizen national, or permanent
          – Bachelor in sciences

          (Lihua will talk more about F31 (NRSA)
            fellowships today)
    Major Funding Sources
• National Institute Health
• American Heart Association
• National Science Foundation
          Funding Opportunities
• American Heart Association Predoctoral
      • AHA focuses on cardiovascular disease and
      • Description:
          – 2 year fellowship that can be extended to max.
            3 years
      • Requirements:
          – Citizen, permanent resident, student visa
         Funding Opportunities
• National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research
       • Promotes the pursuit of science, less stringent need to
         establish relevance to public health
       • Description:
            – Three years of support
            – 1,100 awards available nationally
       • Requirements:
            – Citizen, national, or permanent resident
            – Undergraduate senior, or in 1st year of graduate
            – Proposed project in science, technology, engineering
              or math
       Don’t Limit Yourself…
Look “outside of the box” when trying to
  find funding sources:

•   Department of Defense (DOD)
•   Scientific societies
•   Local philanthropic organizations
•   National fellowships to support diversity
    in science
       Choosing your Funding
• Am I eligible?
  – Education level
  – Citizenship
  – Matches your research interests
• Is it worth it?
  – Time commitment to apply
  – How much / what kind of support
  – Success rate for grant

  Tip: Bring it up with your mentor that you
    want to apply!
My Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
AHA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
• 2 year fellowship
• Optional 3rd-year extension
• Studies broadly applicable to
  cardiovascular disease or stroke
• Bonus: Open to International Students!!!
      AHA: Review Criteria
• Divided equally into three components:
  – Investigator (you)
     • Grades, references
  – Environment
     • Sponsor (your mentor) and Institution (the
  – Research Proposal
           AHA: Applicant
            (~5 pages)
• Investigator:
  – Are you qualified academically?
  – Do you have previous research
  – Present your CV, your educational
    background, your grades

• Take Home Message:
  – Update your CV regularly so this is copy-
    AHA: Reference Reports
• 3 Reference Reports
   – Give references your CV (highlight the
     achievements you think are important) and a lot of
   – Gently remind them of their deadlines as it gets
     closer to the date.

• Tip: When giving them the forms to be filled
  out, include a pre-addressed, pre-paid manila
  envelope (registered mail) so they can just
  seal it and send it… and you can still track its
        AHA: Your Sponsor
• Mentor:
     • Is the mentor actively involved in the project?
     • Will the mentor be able to financially support
       the equipment necessary for the project?
• Institution:
     • Is the research environment conducive to the
       research necessary to carry out the project?
     • Does the mentor/institution have a
       comprehensive plan of study for the applicant
       that encompasses a wide breadth of graduate
  AHA: Your Sponsor (cont’d)

                  (~ 5-7 pages)
• Take Home Message: Keep your sponsor
  involved in the grant-writing process – this
  should be a collaboration between you and
  your mentor!
   AHA: Research Proposal
• Proposal:
  – Are your experiments relevant to the
    goals of the American Heart
  – Are your experiments reasonable and
    logically presented?
    • Have you thought everything through?
  – Do you have the resources to do your
    experiment? (i.e. preliminary data)
      AHA: Research Proposal
           (~10 pages)
• Specific Aims
• Background & Significance
  – Brief literature review
  – Preliminary data
  – Significance to the granting agency
• Experimental Design
  –   Background
  –   Overview of Experiments (and Controls)
  –   Expected Results
  –   Alternative Strategies
• Projected Timeline, Selected Methods,
  Ethical Concerns
   AHA: Research Proposal
• Re-iterate the relevance of your
  research to practical applications (e.g.
  public health, disease) frequently
• Reviewers are not experts in your field –
  start at the very beginning!
  – “Lead them down the garden path”
• Write clearly and keep paragraphs short
  to avoid the consequences of “reviewer
    Signatures & Sponsored
• Sponsored Projects at the U of A must
  approve every grant application out of the
  – Your deadline is at least two weeks before the
    granting agency’s deadline.

• Tip: Contact Sponsored Projects >1 month
  before you give them the proposal to give
  them “head’s up” and ask for help.
                       Sample Timeline
        Month 1                Month 2                Month 3
      Specific Aims          Specific Aim 3
      Specific Aims      Revise Specific Aims     Review & Edit

      Specific Aim I         Background         Paperwork, Collate
      Specific Aim 2        Review & Edit       Sponsored Projects
                                                Last Minute Panic   !
    Tips & Tricks (references)
• Give your referrers:
  – Clear instructions
  – A deadline (and lots of time)
  – Description of grant
  – Mission of funding agency
  – Your updated CV highlighting major
  – An addressed envelope (postage)
• Reminders!
        Tips & Tricks (writing)

•   Read the instructions (many times)
•   Start early (>3 months)
•   Write Specific Aims first
•   Keep figures big and legible!
    – Include descriptive figure legends
• Collaborate with your mentor!
     Tips & Tricks (revising)
• Leave at least 3 weeks to review and
  – Take time away from the proposal and
    then come back to re-read for logical
    inconsistencies and typos.
  – Collaborate closely with your mentor!
  – Let a fresh pair of eyes (preferably
    someone who doesn’t know your field)
    read your grant for typos and grammar!
    Tips & Tricks (submitting)

• Leave 1-2 weeks to fill out paperwork, collate
  your .pdf form, and submit online
• Submit online at least 1 day prior to deadline
• Review your .pdf version before submitting.
• Keep a photocopy for yourself and give one
  to your mentor
             Travel Awards
• Fund costs associated with specific
• Judged on:
  – Importance of travel to professional
     • Are you presenting?
     • Close to graduating?
     • Audience?
              Travel Awards
• Sample Requirements:
  – Copy of abstract
  – Presenter’s information
     • What is the conference you are going to?
     • Are you presenting?
  – Budget
  – Personal Statement
     • Why is this conference important to your career?
             Travel Awards
• Available through:
  – Scientific societies / conference organizers
     • E.g.
  – On-campus departments / organizations
     • Herbert E. Carter Travel Award ($500)
     • WISE Travel Award ($200-$600)
     • GPSC Travel Award ($500)
        Overall Tips & Tricks
 •   Start early
 •   Set a timeline
 •   Read instructions carefully
 •   Revise multiple times
 •   Submit early
   Each and every one of you should
   submit at least one application for
independent funding before graduation.
 Jennifer Fang,

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