Winning Research Funding

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Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. To exaggerate slightly: If this were , we might as well be hoping that the commercial airlines would take us to the moon. If the race for powerful A. Their model should be the research that led to the internet, funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, created by the Eisenhower administration and arguably the most successful publicly funded science project in American history.

RTPI Awards for Research Excellence

To their credit, companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are spending considerable money on advanced research. But it would be a grave error to think that we can rest assured that Silicon Valley has it all taken care of. Cystic fibrosis CF is a life-threatening disease that affects the lungs and digestive system and impacts about 70, people worldwide. The presence or absence of this dysfunctional protein causes the body to accumulate excessive levels of unusually thick mucus in the lungs.

This excessive sticky mucus in the lungs becomes a site for infections that can require hospitalization. For more information on CF, please visit www.


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The best-kept secrets to winning grants

Young, talented and fed-up: scientists tell their stories. He had been told to stay away from R21s, but he ignored that advice when he saw an announcement requesting applications from people in his field of cancer informatics. His proposal earned a competitive percentile score, but he found out in April that it is unlikely to be funded. But he is also practical about its limitations. Programme officers, also called programme directors, are NIH employees who shepherd grant applications through the system, from submission to award.

Their role includes advising investigators by e-mail and on the phone — but not every scientist takes full advantage of this opportunity. New investigators should ask about the various institute missions and research priorities that can affect the decision to fund, says Stacia Friedman-Hill, a programme director at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Nobel Prize winner received research funding from AHA

The best time to start talking is before a proposal is written. They will also point out if experimental approaches or research questions are not likely to be funded. Nagele knows this. After a discovery that the anaesthetic gas nitrous oxide could act as an antidepressant, he and his collaborators wanted to submit an R01 application for a clinical trial of that idea. A discussion with a programme officer at the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that the institute does not fund clinical trials unless the intervention works on a specific biological target in the brain; the mechanism was unknown for nitrous oxide.

Instead, he applied for and won an R21 to investigate where nitrous oxide acts in the brain. NIH grant limits rile biomedical research community. Another time to seek advice is on receipt of a review-summary statement after the study-section meeting. And a resubmission does not prevent the first attempt from being successful.

Programme officers ask that researchers be respectful of their time, however — waiting until three days before a deadline to seek help with a grant is ill-advised. Ainsztein also encourages researchers to get involved in the review process itself. Young scientists, she says, should apply to the Early Career Reviewer programme at the NIH, which allows them to serve as grant reviewers in a limited capacity. Piccolo did this and says that the experience bolstered his confidence. This will immediately disqualify those people as having a potential conflict of interest.

Often, success rates for these dedicated pools of funding are higher than for general review pools. It could send your application to the wrong institute or study section, significantly lowering your chances. But optimism is not in vast supply these days. Dara Ghahremani, an addiction researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, says he feels as if he is on a grant-writing treadmill and someone keeps turning up the speed.

Ghahremani earned an R21 early in his associate research-faculty position, but has since failed in seven attempts to obtain R21s and other grants. With his time spread thinly, he has not been able to publish his own work in a timely manner, making it harder to apply for independent funding.

Grant writing support

How should science funders deal with sexual harassers? Lorsch and his NIH colleagues are very much aware that renewing an R01 grant is also a daunting task.


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  6. The number one reason that investigators fail to renew a grant is that they have not shown enough productivity or progress, Lorsch says.