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NRMN-Proposal Preparation Program for Mentees (UC Davis)

The NRMN Proposal Preparation Program (NRMN-P3) is one of four intensive grant writing training programs that is committed to delivering relevant and thorough coaching on the grant writing and submission processes to scientists from all backgrounds, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of individuals from currently under-represented backgrounds successfully obtaining NIH grants.

This version of NRMN-P3 is hosted by the University of California-Davis.

Program Directors 

Moon Chen, PhD, UC Davis; other tbd

Contact Dr. Moon Chen at


Eligibility Requirements

Schedule of Sessions

Application Process

Home Institutions of Participants

More Information

Program Overview


In today’s highly competitive funding climate, the importance of strong proposal writing skills cannot be overstated. Investigators must assume that their great research ideas will be competing against a wealth of other great ideas; the proposals that ‘rise above’ are those that spark an exceptionally high level of enthusiasm in reviewers by presenting compelling arguments for not only the research’s methodologic rigor, but also the project’s anticipated impact on the field, significance for various stakeholders (patients, researchers, clinicians, investigators in different but related fields), degree of innovation, and alignment with the funding agency’s priority areas. All of these proposal features are addressed during coaching sessions within the NRMN-Pprogram.

Key Program Features

  • NRMN-Pis a 4-month, writing-intensive, small group experiencedesigned to refine the proposal writing skills of early-stage investigators (junior faculty or transitioning postdocs). The program is ideal for researchers who are preparing their first major NIH proposal or who have submitted a previous NIH proposal but not been funded.
  • The program’s focus is on NIH R- and K- funding mechanisms. This can be a new proposal, a competitive R01 renewal, or a revision of a previously submitted but unfunded proposal. (Researchers developing proposals for other mechanisms and funders are encouraged to consider NRMN’s other Grant Proposal Coaching and Professional Development Programs.)
  • NRMN-Pis rooted in an intensive coaching model. Participants develop drafts of core sections of their own proposal, then come together as a cohort every other week (7 two-hour virtual meetings) to receive critical feedback on their work-in-progress from skilled coaches (senior investigators) who understand reviewers’ expectations. When possible, NRMN coaches critique not only the writing and presentation, but also the project’s scope, methodologic rigor, and anticipated impact. Participants are expected to work with a local content mentor (at or near their home institution) to receive field-specific, scientific feedback on the proposal’s content.
  • At each session, participants review one of their peers’ drafts, using writing rubrics and NIH summary sheet templates. This feature provides participants with experience in the reviewer role while exposing them to other writing examples to emulate. This process also fosters deeper connections with peers in their NRMN-Pcohort, thus broadening the potential for future interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaborations.
  • The program’s structured timeline fosters early writing and regular rewriting – habits that must be adopted and practiced by early-stage investigators who are new to proposal development.
  • The closing session includes a practice study sectionin which participants receive a written and oral critique of their draft proposal from experts in their respective fields.

Size of Instructor Cohort: 3 NRMN faculty; up to 8 coaches in training

Size of Cohort: up to 15 mentees

Total Program Duration: 4 months

Key Activities and Dates

2-Day Kick-Off: In-person orientation and training on the UC Davis campus.

  • Review and refinement of Specific Aims
  • Features of successful proposals
  • Panel discussion with NIH study section reviewers
  • Individual meetings with NRMN-Pcoaches

Online Sessions Across 3-4 Months:

  • Seven group sessions for review of draft in progress (biweekly, 2 hours each, 1-3pm Pacific Time, WebEx videoconferencing).
  • Active (re) writing of proposal sections between sessions
  • Review of one peer’s proposal draft for each session
  • Individual support from coaches as needed

1-Day Wrap-Up: Online mock study section for participants’ proposals

Eligibility Requirements

Note: Participants may not be enrolled in more than one concurrent NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Group. 

  1. Grant Writing Experience – moderate to moderate/advanced grant writing experience
  2. Experience/level* – Junior faculty & Postdoctoral fellows at one of the following career stages:
    • Junior faculty member developing a K- or R-series NIH proposal;
    • Postdoctoral fellow developing a K99/R00 NIH proposal; or
    • Postdoctoral fellow developing a different K-series NIH proposal and transitioning to a faculty position. (“Transitioning” means the applicant is expected to have accepted a faculty appointment by the time the NRMN-PProgram begins.)
  3. Citizenship – U.S. citizenship or permanent residency

NIH funded P3 under the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), with the goal of identifying effective mentoring and networking strategies that promise to work for a diverse population of mentees, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research workforce.   While P3 is open to all individuals meeting the eligibility criteria, the program strongly encourages applications from individuals from groups identified as nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.  These groups include: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and women at senior faculty levels in biomedical-relevant disciplines.

For more information, see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity:

Selection Criteria

Preference is given to those applicants who demonstrate strength across the following:

  1. Readiness to write: Scientific ideas and preliminary data for the proposed research are developed enough that significant proposal writing can realistically begin at the start of the NRMN-PProgram.
  2. Research background: Applicant has a sufficient record of prior research training and publications to deliver a convincing argument for readiness to lead the proposed research.
  3. Timing of proposal submission: Applicant intends to submit the proposal developed during the program within 6 months of program completion.
  4. Quality of local mentorship: Applicant identifies an appropriate local mentor who commits to providing critical feedback on the proposal’s scientific content during its development.
  5. Sufficient time for the program: Applicant commits to full participation in all NRMN-P3 sessions, activities, and assignments as detailed in the schedule. This includes attendance at all review sessions (in person and virtual), engagement in significant (re)writing between scheduled sessions, and development of thoughtful critiques of peers’ written drafts.
  6. Institutional support for research: Applicant is from an institution with sufficient resources (technical, scientific, administrative, etc.) to support the proposed research, or has a strong collaboration with one or more scientists at such an institution.
  7. Trainees from UC Davis, Drew University and the University of Hawaii who are eligible to be PIs at their home institutions will be given preference in the selection process.

Applicants who are from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences are strongly encouraged to apply.

*Due to NIH restrictions on providing funding and resources to employees or contractors of the NIH Intramural Program through extramural funds, postdoctoral fellows currently working at NIH are not eligible to participate in NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Groups.

Schedule for NRMN-P3 Cohort (UC Davis)


Cohort 1

Application deadline – August 1, 2016
In-person kickoff – September 19-20, 2016 (in Sacramento)
Online sessions – 
October 6, 20; November 3, 17; December 1, 15; from 1:00-3:00 Pacific Time
Online mock study section – January 12, 2017


Application Process

Up to $500 will be available for travel expenses to support each participant’s airfare and hotel expenses for in-person meetings.

Applications are now closed.

When an application cycle opens, candidates should follow the steps below.

  1. Create an online profile at by clicking here.
    • You will be prompted to create a password and answer a set of basic questions to create your profile.
    • When asked, “from which organization did you hear about NRMN?” please select “NRMN PDC – Professional Development Core” from the dropdown menu.
    • Once you’ve completed your registration, you will see a notification that your NRMN Profile has been updated. You may then move on to Step 2.
  2. Complete the program application here. The following materials must be submitted along with this application:
    a. Content mentor support form (click here to download form)
    b. Grant proposal aims page
  3. Contact Moon Chen with questions about the program (

How do I get additional information?

For additional information about this grant writing group process, or to determine if it is a good fit for your needs, feel free to contact Dr. Moon Chen at

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