Pearls to get your grants funded
NCI Grant Allocations 2011
$414 to new grants
• Funding applications up, # funded way down
• Success rate
• P01 21 of 96 awarded 22% 43 mil
• R01 661 of 4583 14% 256 mil
• R21 228 of 2322 10% 46 mil
• U01 29 of 243 16% 29 mil
– RO1 7% or better all funded. Virtually none >18%
– R21 8% all -12% down to 50% get funded
• What is currently funded
– 1711 RO1
– 52 P01
– 41 U01
– U54 24
How does the NCI Score ?
• 9 point scale 1= outstanding….9 Abysmal
• 5 factors, all not weighted equally
• 2012 range for funded
– Significance 1.4-3.6
– Investigator 1.4-2.5
– Approach 2-3.3
– Innovation 2.4-4.8
– Environment 1.4-2.1
What score do I need to get funded?
– 7% or lower all got funded.
– 8% or higher, 60, 40, 20% virtually none >18%
– 8% or lower all got funded
– Down to 12%, 50% get funded, nil >12%
• Must be relevant to Human cancers
• Will it advance the field ?
• Not much variation among the funded
grants, so it can’t help but can hurt you
• Use the personal statement in the Biosketch
to really sell yourself
– Why you are the right person for this research
– That you have enough (unique!) expertise
• They like hypothesis driven
– They hate Fishing expeditions
• Must have supporting preliminary data
• How will you verify?
• Include “enough” methodology details
– The goldilocks point is hard to define
– Just because a method is standard they need to see that
• YOU can do it
• It works in your setting
• Address pitfalls
– Don’t assume it will work
– What will you do if it doesn’t work?
• Maintain FOCUS
• Include a timeline
• Novel technology?
– Novel application of existing technology?
• Conceptually novel?
• Novel reagents?
• Check the literature to make sure that what you
are proposing wasn’t already published
– If it was, then you better have a really convincing
argument of why your study is needed
• Check the NCI website to make sure that they
have not already funded something similar
• There is not a lot of variation in the
environment score among funded grants
– It can’t help you but it can sure hurt you!
• Make sure you have letters of support from
– Institution – document that you have resources
– Collaborators, Consultants
Write for your reviewers
• Assume they know very little about your area
• Think about when they will read your grant
– After hours, weekends, on the plane to a conference, distracted by
family, TV etc,
• They are tired, possibly ignorant & maybe had a drink or two
– Guess what will happen if you try to make them read something
– Use simple sentence structure
– GRAMMAR COUNTS in exceedingly large amounts
– Make ideas clear and easy to absorb
– Tell then clearly what you want them to learn form each sentence or
figure, don’t make (let) them draw the conclusions for themselves
– Figures must be SIMPLE, CLEAR, READABLE don’t use tiny fonts
• Only 1 resubmit- so don’t submit prematurely
• Local review
– Bounce the ideas off others in your dept or area.
– Show them prelim data and Specific aims before you write.
– Take their advice
• If they see holes, so will the reviewer
• If they say an aim is weak, believe them
• Follow all rules
– Page limits: Write as much as you need first. Make sure you get all the ideas
down, then trim to fit. Otherwise you will omit key details.
– Dates: Make sure you leave enough time for your institution to process it.
Don’t wait until the last
• Grammar and style review
– Does your institution provide it? If not pay for one.
• Local peer review- preferably someone unfamiliar with your area.
– If they can’t understand it you are in trouble
• Don’t fall in love with what you wrote, be willing to accept criticism
Pre-Contact with the NCI/NIH
• Pick a study section that you think is right for your
– DO NOT GO IN BLIND
– Look at what they are funding, does yours fit?
– Look at the SS roster. Do you know people on it?
• looking for experts in your arena
• Not looking for friends, they will have to leave anyway.
– NIH/NCI will usually honor your request
• Call the program officer or science officer when you
have the idea
– Is this the right SS for you?
– Do they have suggestions?
• Suggest the center/institute
– Any conflicts in the study section roster
– Areas of expertise needed by the reviewer for a
fair review of your grant
– Special situations
• DO NOT suggest who should review your grant