“I think you & your training are wonderful and I look forward to working with you one day soon.”
– Karen Jiggins Colorafi, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University

“Thank you for the fantastic webinar series! I will definitely recommend it to other researchers.”
– Kimberly A. Miller MPH, Kaiser Permanente

“Thanks for a great webinar series. I revised the specific aims for my upcoming submission based on some of the great pointers I picked up in the aims webinar. I have already tweeted about the webinars and will also pass it along via word of mouth.”
– David E. Conroy, Ph.D., Professor, Preventive Medicine, Deputy Director, Division of Behavioral Medicine & Center for Behavior and Health, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

I thoroughly enjoyed your webinar [PREPARATION: Key Steps to take Before You Write a Successful NIH Submission]. It was one of the most substantive and thoughtfully organized webinars I have ever experienced. I will certainly recommend your offerings to colleagues.”
– Mary Elizabeth Strunk, Assistant Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, Amherst College

Designed for those preparing to write an R-series submission for an upcoming grant deadline, and the people who advise them.
Four webinars — available on demand
CME Learning Objectives:
At the end of 3 hours 5 minutes of coursework, you will:

  1. Identify and employ crucial steps to take to prepare to write an NIH grant application
  2. Acquire key information about effective NIH writing strategies
  3. Apply NIH effective strategies to writing and revising a draft submission
  4. Utilize learned skills to critique peer drafts to hone their own skills
  5. Develop better grantwriting skills that will carry forward on all submissions, whether to NIH or other funding agencies
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Meg Bouvier Medical Writing, LLC. The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this internet enduring material for a maximum of 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


1. Preparation
You have a cool idea for a research project, now what? Great science is necessary, but not sufficient, to funding success. Here, I discuss preparatory strategies that distinguish my grantees who are consistently more successful at NIH from those who are not. Tips include finding your niche in the funding portfolio, shopping around draft Aim(s) to multiple ICs to find the best possible fit, and discussing with an enthusiastic program officer your study design and optimal study section and FOA. Emphasis is placed on the importance of building a long-term relationship with the program officer.

2. Specific Aims
The one-page Aims document is arguably the most important narrative section of an NIH submission. Reviewers begin to form their funding decision based on this single page. Attendees will be given examples of recently funded Aims documents in their entirety, including one funded in 2019. You will be given numerous examples of narrative overviews, “we propose” paragraphs, impact statements, and numbered aims from recently funded grant applications, as well as formats and templates to help with your writing. The training manual contains instructions, tips, samples, and a writing exercise that consists of a funded Aims page into which I have inserted mistakes I typically see from grantees, in order for attendees to practice editing. By the end of the training, you should feel skilled and confident to construct a highly polished Aims page for your own submissions.

3. Significance and Innovation
Grantees often struggle to write the Significance and Innovation sections (which have no corresponding section in journal articles) and to distinguish between the two. I walk grantees through the writing of a strong Significance section, which includes disease burden, the new Rigor of Prior Research scoring criteria, and how your project will address the strengths and weaknesses of the prior research and reduce disease burden. I will demonstrate how the Innovation section must drive home the competitive advantage over previous and current approaches. Because reviewers tend to skim text, I provide examples from numerous recently funded grant applications on which I have worked of newspaper-style headers that help reviewers skim and grasp key concepts. Emphasis of this course is on ensuring that reviewers both in and outside your field are persuaded of the significance, innovation, and impact of your project. The training manual is packed with instructions, tips, templates, recently funded samples, and exercises to help you edit and write more competitively.

4. Approach
Human subjects project? Clinical trial? Neither? What does this have to do with writing the Approach section? Everything, from which type of funding opportunity announcement (and therefore instructions & scoring criteria), to how much (if any) of your content gets stripped out of the Approach and placed in the PHS Human Subjects & Clinical Trial Information Form – because as of January 2019, no “double listing” is allowed. I will help you determine what kind of project you are doing, what kind of FOA/instructions/scoring criteria you therefore follow, and which parts of the Human Subjects & Clinical Trial Form (if any) you fill out. Based on what goes in your Approach section as a result, I will help you understand how to write a winning Approach section – the section that typically receives the worst score, and the one that statistically correlates most closely with your Overall score. Emphasis will be placed on concrete ways to address reviewer comments of scoring criteria for Scientific Rigor and Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable, including examples from recently funded grant applications on which I have worked.


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