Jada Brooks, Ph.D. was recently awarded a K23 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) following her participation as a mentee within a cohort of the NRMN Proposal Preparation Program (or “NRMN P3”), one of four NRMN coaching group models for rising biomedical research investigators to hone their techniques for grant proposal writing. We explore her experience in biomedical research and the path that led her to where she is today.
I truly believe that my K23 grant application success was a direct result of my experience as a NRMN program participant.NRMN P3 is a wonderful program for junior faculty, especially those from disadvantaged or underserved populations, to develop writing skills that will further enhance their research career and lead to future success.”
Jada Brooks, Ph.D.
A shadowing experience with a Lumbee pediatrician is what originally sparked Brooks’s interest in identifying and addressing the underlying factors influencing health disparities. As a research assistant, her passion for research grew through her involvement in a statewide project in North Carolina to improve mammography utilization and breast pathology outcomes for American Indian women, a population who underutilize screening mammography and thus are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease.
This experience provided Brooks with a rich understanding of the importance of recruiting underrepresented minorities into research to more accurately identify population-specific disparities. Currently, she serves as a co-investigator on a multisite NIDA-funded project (R01 DA035143) to reduce substance use in American Indian youth using a culturally tailored intertribal talking circle intervention. As of September 2016, she now also serves as PI on a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23 ES027026) focused on the health of American Indian women, specifically linking exposure to environmental pollutants and psychosocial factors to cardiovascular disease.
Before applying for and successfully obtaining her K23 grant, Brooks read about the NRMN P3 grant writing and professional development opportunity, hosted at the University of Minnesota, in the UNC Center for Health Equity Research newsletter that she receives periodically.
She was interested in the NRMN program because she was in the process of writing a K23 grant application to submit to NIH and believed the coaching program might enhance her writing skills and strengthen her research application. Networking with other junior faculty was also an aspect of the program that she found appealing.
As a Junior Faculty participant in the NRMN P3 Program, she received peer feedback that she says was infinitely valuable and challenged her to more clearly articulate her ideas in writing. She also provided peer feedback to NRMN P3 colleagues, which allowed her to practice giving constructive feedback as well as to see how others creatively express ideas in their writing.
As a doctoral student, she had completed the Carolina Summer Research Institute on Writing Research Grants. It was an intensive, weeklong institute that focused on proposal development and writing. She was preparing an NRSA grant application at the time. At the conclusion of the Carolina Summer Research Institute on Writing Research Grants, Brooks says she had a more solid writing foundation and better understanding of the NIH funding mechanisms and review process. In comparison, the NRMN P3 program provided more one-on-one intensive coaching that resulted in a better-developed, more solid grant application at the end of the program. While the Carolina Summer Research Institute on Writing Research Grants presented her with the tools to write successful NIH research proposals, the NRMN P3 Program helped her successfully apply the tools in an encouraging and supportive environment.
To learn more about the NRMN P3 grant writing coaching group, visit the NRMN P3 web page.