CIHR Grants

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					Secrets of the successful CIHR grant

  B. Brett Finlay, Biotechnology Laboratory
   822-2210; bfinlay@interchange.ubc.ca
 Do I know what I am talking about?

• Not really!
• Several grants funded
  – Currently 3 CIHR operating grants, CIHR Scientist
  – Grants have ranked #1 at committees (except one 3rd)
• External reviewer for years
• Served on Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  review committee 3 years
• Chair, Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  Committee
Never, ever take a grant application
          “for granted”
            CIHR Review process

•   Preregistration
•   Committee assignment
•   Reviewer assignment
•   External reviews
•   Internal reviews (look up committee members)
•   Committee evaluation and rating
           Committee assignment

• Look up members on web page!
  – These will be the people discussing your grant
• Look at grants successfully funded by committee
• Choose wisely!
  – If don’t understand, don’t get funded
                 External reviews

•   Suggest some (full addresses, areas of interest)
•   Not as much weight
•   3-6 requested
•   International “experts”
                 Internal reviews

•   Each grant gets a primary, secondary, plus reader
•   Each reviewer does about 14 grants!
•   Job is to criticize it, not be supportive
•   Bored; need to find way to get their attention
    Committee evaluation and ranking

•   Primary and secondary reviewers state score (0-4.9)
•   Primary summarizes grant, secondary adds comments
•   Externals summarized
•   General discussion
•   Consensus score (reader may help)
•   Each member scores within 0.5 of consensus
•   Scientific Officer summarizes
•   Budget discussed
                    Funded?

• Each grant ranked by average score
• Each committee gets a certain percentage funded
• Additional applications funded from total pool
  based on average
• At time of ranking, committee does not know
  which ones get funded
                     The grant

• One overriding hypothesis (great idea)
• About 3 interrelated specific objectives that answer
  hypothesis
• Interwoven, overlapping
• More than one method proposed, in case one doesn’t
  work
• Exciting preliminary data (but don’t give it all away)
   – Proves you can do it, and are doing it
• Must be internationally competitive
      Sections in grant

•   Rationale
•   Background
•   Hypothesis and objectives
•   Research proposal
•   Conclusions/logistics
•   Significance
                Finish grant early

•   Start early (2-3 months ahead)
•   Time for ideas to percolate
•   Get others to read it!
•   Fine tune it, appearance polished
•   If you are not sick of it, you haven’t spent enough
    time on it
                    Appearance?

• Submit “perfect”grant
  – No typos, don’t exceed space or margin limits,
    budgets add up…
  – Very important not to tick off reviewers
• Appearance is important
  – Use spaces, headings, subheading, help readers
    through, numbering
• Use appendices wisely
  – Often receive little attention, as at end
           Letters of collaboration

• Use appropriate experts only, where they will help
• Draft letter for them, or tell them what to say
  – Be specific, not just vague support letter
  – Give them time to prepare it (get better letter)
• Be honest when listing collaborators and conflicts
                   The budget
• Be reasonable!
• Put in sacrifice (extra grad student)?
   – Most grants cut 10-25%
• Currently people ask for 150-200K, getting about
  120k
• Make sure math is all correct
• Justify each item (ie why you need a 4th PCR
  machine)
• Justify each person (experiments, etc)
• Provide realistic timeline?
      What reviewers look for in an
               applicant
• Track record (pubs, international reputation,
  recent work)
• Quality of previous training, quality of graduates
• Ability to do proposed work
• Applicant’s environment
• Appropriate collaborators
• Other commitments
      What reviewers look for in an
              application
• Significance/importance, justification
• The hypothesis (original,importance)
• Appropriate methods and research proposed
  – Alternates proposed in case one fails?
• Is this exciting? Is this the best use of funds?
             Educate yourself

• Read successful AND unsuccessful grants, and
  comments
• Get on a grant committee!
• Many good articles on the Web (CIHR, NIH, …)
• Much written on the art of grant writing
                    Reasons for failure
•   Poor applicant
•   Too ambitious (eg 9 objectives)
•   Too straight forward (not imaginative)
•   Poor record
•   No preliminary data
•   Reviewers don’t understand (whose fault is it?)
     – Wrong committee?
•   Sloppy grant
•   Ambiguous (in any section)
•   Outdated approach, references
•   Double dipping, lie about hours
•   Not original
         Leave nothing to chance!!
• Competing with many other good grants
• Great idea, great preliminary data, great track
  record
• Convince them it is the best use of funds
• Don’t give the reviewers anything to criticize
• Repeat main themes, as may miss it if only stated
  once
• Good luck!
  – And if it fails, pay attention to the next talk