Successful grant writing       Russ B. Altman, MD, PhD         Stanford University
1. Read instructions and follow the rules perfectly!• Page limits, Fonts• Limitations on appendices, etc...• Due dates• In...
2. Remember, reviewer is in       a bad mood.• Large pile of grants to review• Typically, not enough time• Bad proposals p...
3. Use white space, bulleted   lists, images = make it            beautiful• Do NOT fill every page with a block of  text• ...
4. Exciting ideas often resultfrom combination of threads • Good ideas are the hardest thing about a   new grant • Very of...
5. Abstract structure is critical• Overall “big” challenge you are contributing to, why  important• Specific “smaller” chal...
6. Specific aims• Aims = “what” is to be achieved, not “how” (so  methods may change after award, but aim change  much more...
7. Background/Literature review• (Especially new investigators)Show that you have a  scholarly understanding of the key co...
8. Prior results• (Especially new investigators)                               Show that you have  done good & relevant pr...
9. Methods section• Organize methods by specific aim• This is the “how” and is your best estimate of how  to proceed at the...
10. Other elements• Budget should be realistic but make sure enough to  get work done even with cuts• Don’t be insensitive...
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Ismb grant-writing-2012

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Ismb grant-writing-2012

  1. 1. Successful grant writing Russ B. Altman, MD, PhD Stanford University
  2. 2. 1. Read instructions and follow the rules perfectly!• Page limits, Fonts• Limitations on appendices, etc...• Due dates• Initial contacts if allowed/recommended with program officers• Responsive to all elements of the call
  3. 3. 2. Remember, reviewer is in a bad mood.• Large pile of grants to review• Typically, not enough time• Bad proposals put them in a bad temper• Your job is to brighten their day
  4. 4. 3. Use white space, bulleted lists, images = make it beautiful• Do NOT fill every page with a block of text• Make it visually appealing and attractive• Make the structure totally transparent
  5. 5. 4. Exciting ideas often resultfrom combination of threads • Good ideas are the hardest thing about a new grant • Very often, the best ideas come from combining two approaches or technologies in order to create a synthesis of approaches (e.g. systems biology + genomics OR next gen sequencing + expression analysis)
  6. 6. 5. Abstract structure is critical• Overall “big” challenge you are contributing to, why important• Specific “smaller” challenge you will solve, why critical• Why is there a special opportunity?• What is your particular advantage?• What are specific aims• How will you evaluate success?• How will field be left in better position
  7. 7. 6. Specific aims• Aims = “what” is to be achieved, not “how” (so methods may change after award, but aim change much more rare)• “Specific” = clearly possible to judge if the aim has been achieved
  8. 8. 7. Background/Literature review• (Especially new investigators)Show that you have a scholarly understanding of the key contributions before this work.• Anticipate who might review the grant and refer to their work!• Make it short, pertinent and tutorial (but not condensending--respectful and high quality)
  9. 9. 8. Prior results• (Especially new investigators) Show that you have done good & relevant previous work, establish your technical virtuosity• Sometime prior results better in the methods section so you don’t make it appear that the proposed work is already completed, label it as “preliminary.”• Keep prior results relevant, but allow a stretch to show previous successes
  10. 10. 9. Methods section• Organize methods by specific aim• This is the “how” and is your best estimate of how to proceed at the time of submission• Include “failure mode” analysis to show you have anticipated problems• Include timeline to show how the work will proceed in sequence or parallel• Include as much detail as possible => convince the reviewer that on Day 1 you have a full agenda of things to do that will be productive.
  11. 11. 10. Other elements• Budget should be realistic but make sure enough to get work done even with cuts• Don’t be insensitive to data sharing, human subjects, animal subjects, privacy, security• Key letters of support to show environment of support (especially young investigators)• Name specific individuals >> “To be announced” (even if they change later)• Be prepared to cut aims if budget reduced

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