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The Ins and Outs of the R15 Grant

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If you’re considering NIH’s R15 grant, there are some facts you should know before you apply — including what the grant is, who is eligible to receive it, and what reviewers look for in R15 applications.

NIH designed the R15, or Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA), to support biomedical and behavioral sciences research at small health professional schools. The grant aims to expose graduate and undergraduate students to scientific investigation and bolster the research environment at these smaller institutions.

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The Ins and Outs of the R15 Grant

  1. 1. The Ins and Outs of the R15 Grant Brought to you by: Principal Investigators Association
  2. 2. Funding and Management Advice for Scientists in All Fields of Research www.principalinvestigators.org
  3. 3. Reader Question: I am interested in seeking R15 funding. Which key factors should I keep in mind before crafting my proposal?
  4. 4. Expert Comments: If you’re considering NIH’s R15 grant, there are some facts you should know before you apply including:
  5. 5. 1. 2. 3. What the grant is Who is eligible to receive it and What reviewers look for in R15 applications
  6. 6. NIH designed the R15, or Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA), to support biomedical and behavioral sciences research at small health professional schools.
  7. 7. The grant aims to expose graduate and undergraduate students to scientific investigation and bolster the research environment at these smaller institutions.
  8. 8. If you are currently preparing your R15 grant application, are soon to renew an existing grant, or will be seeking NIH R15 funding in the near future look no further. You can now get all the winning strategies you should apply in your next R15 grant application in one place: http://www.principalinvestigators.org/nih-r15-grant-application-manual/
  9. 9. Determining your institution’s eligibility There are two criteria your organization must satisfy to be eligible for an R15.
  10. 10. First, your institution must meet NIH’s definition of a health professional school. This means it’s: an accredited public school or non-profit private school that offers health science degrees.
  11. 11. Second, NIH funding to your institution _cannot exceed $6 million. When you submit your R15 application, your college cannot have more than that in research grants for four out of the last seven fiscal years.
  12. 12. For a list of the nearly 300 schools and colleges that are not eligible for the R15, go to: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/ area_ineligible_list_2012.pdf
  13. 13. Evaluating Your Personal Eligibility NIH guidelines indicate that PIs with the expertise, skills and backing from their institutions can apply for the R15. But you must consider your other research commitments and grants.
  14. 14. You cannot be the PI on an active NIH grant if you want to receive an R15 award. But you may conduct research as part of another PI’s grant.
  15. 15. Although you can have successive R15 renewals, NIH will not award more than one of these grants at a time. In addition, you cannot apply for funding that covers the same work as that of a pending R15 application.
  16. 16. Examine Collaborations Another thing reviewers want to know is whether your experience will mesh well with your collaborator’s expertise. For example, Robert Ward, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Food Sciences Department at Utah State University, is co-PI on an R15 proposal with Abby Benninghoff, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Department at the same institution.
  17. 17. The pair’s project deals with multigenerational exposure to a western diet in rodents. Ward’s lab primarily focuses on fat analysis, and Benninghoff’s lab specializes in molecular biology. The combination allows them to produce the data needed for their project. “The NIH review panel complimented the fact that we had a good mix of skill sets,” Ward says.
  18. 18. To convey how your combined skills will enhance your project’s outcome, Ward suggests you refer to preliminary data. This is not a requirement for the R15. But if you can describe the interaction between collaborators in generating preliminary data, this offers proof of concept.
  19. 19. NIH R15 Grant Application Mentor The 8-section how-to manual has been designed to help scientists submit more competitive applications for the highly-sought R15 grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the federal government's biggest funder of medical research. The 1st edition includes everything you need to know to craft a superior proposal, maximizing your chances for R15 funding. http://bit.ly/R15Manual
  20. 20. Mind the Budget Remember that an R15 award can last as long as three years and provide up to $300,000.
  21. 21. “That‘s not a huge sum of money,” Ward says. “Developing your proposal is going to be a balancing act.” If you are running over your budget, you should be able to trim it by examining the number of lab animals you plan to use. Including fewer animals will reduce the cost.
  22. 22. “But keep in mind that you don‘t want to sacrifice the power of the study: the likelihood that you will observe a statistically significant effect, that your results will still be meaningful by lowering the number of subjects to meet costs,” Benninghoff says.
  23. 23. Keep Students Active One of NIH’s goals with the R15 is to give students a hands-on, active role in research. The agency strongly recommends discussing your experience working with students.
  24. 24. To show you have the necessary background, Benninghoff suggests the following:
  25. 25. • List your documented history. Include publications that show you have worked with undergraduates.
  26. 26. • Explain that you have data collected by undergraduate students, and this data supports the case for your project to receive the grant.
  27. 27. • Highlight the undergraduate program at your institution. • Partner with other institutions that attend graduate student symposiums, or find other presentation opportunities.
  28. 28. Each section includes checks to ensure you’re following NIH guidelines every step along the way. Don't waste your precious time going through vague grant-writing guides. This manual offers everything you need to know to craft a superior proposal, maximizing your chances for NIH R15 funding. http://bit.ly/R15Manual
  29. 29. Demonstrate You’re in the Right Place Once you determine you’re eligible for an R15, you should consider the elements reviewers find important. NIH suggests you provide a thorough explanation of why your institution is suitable for this grant.
  30. 30. The agency recommends highlighting the following areas: the scientific environment your institutional support and the core facilities that might maintain and provide the equipment you will be using.
  31. 31. NIH warns that not discussing these elements may cause reviewers to look at your application less favorably.
  32. 32. The only Free eNewsletter focused on providing best practices on obtaining grant funding, lab management, career advice and much more! http:// bit.ly/SciencePro

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