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NRMN Kicks Off Southeast Training Hub (SETH) at Morehouse School of Medicine: May 10-12, 2017

By May 22, 2017No Comments

Written by Meldra Hall
Edits by Ann Smith

The third SETH Kick-Off was a success as a result of collaborative relations brought together for this training event. Trainees benefitted from robust discussions surrounding Scientific Storytelling, Surviving Peer Review, Fair Play: Bias in Academia, and Improving Mentoring Experiences. The strategic sessions brought to SETH lay the foundation for on-going training and allows for the professional development of diverse scholars, equipping investigators with the necessary skills to address complex scientific challenges.  We are pleased with the launch of our Shark Tank Program and the Health Disparities Learning Collaboratory. I am confident these programs will support training provided to the next generation of health equity scholars.”

– Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC

NRMN SETH Group Photo May 2017

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Research Resources and Outreach Core (RROC) held its third Southeast/Deep South Training Hub (SETH) Grant Writing Training event May 10-12, 2017 at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). The event was hosted by NRMN RROC PI, Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC and her team through the NRMN Research Resources and Outreach Core (RROC) at MSM. It was collaboratively supported by the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), and the RCMI Translational Research Network (RTRN). This multifaceted event included coordinated support across the NRMN Cores, as faculty and staff from all five cores made contributions.

Participants included senior faculty, junior faculty, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as institutional leaders, administrative staff and program directors from institutions across the United States. The event provided training for 30 junior faculty and post-docs Grant Writing trainees, 5 Shark Tank trainees, 7 coaches, and 13 institutional leaders. Seven senior faculty coaches led the grant writing coaching groups. Thirteen institutional leaders and administrators participated in the institutional planning forum.

The three-day event, which included grant writing coaching sessions, mentor training, a scientific storytelling session, a surviving peer review lecture, a bias in academia session, and a mentoring institutional planning forum, opened with a warm welcome from Dr. Elizabeth Ofili on Wednesday May 10, 2017. All sessions were delivered with a goal of helping new health equity investigators pursue research independence.

Day one of the training began with the Improved Mentored & Coached Experiences session led by Bruce Birren, PhD and Victoria McDonnell, DrPH with morning and afternoon sessions. The Coaches’ Training was held that evening. Day two opened with the Scientific Storytelling session led by Rafael Luna, PhD, NRMN PI. The next session, A Novel Coaching-Group Approach to Developing Grant Writing Skills, was led by Jeffrey Engler, PhD , RROC Director of Coaching Groups, who trained as an NRMN Coach at the first SETH event in Atlanta last May. This session employed the Northwestern University Grant Writers Coaching Group model developed by Rick McGee, PhD. The opening session of day three was a presentation Deconstructing NIH given by Dr. Engler. The training ended with a closing session, Fair Play: Bias in Academia which was led by Japera Johnson, PhD, NRMN Research Associate.

NRMN Training Hub Activity 1

On the first day of the Grant Writing training, trainees engage in an activity during the session Improving Mentored and Coached Experiences led by Drs. Bruce Birren and Victoria McDonnell.

The first day of the grant writing training, which opens with the session Improved Mentored & Coached Experiences, was a full day of group discussions, engaging activities, and a thought provoking presentation.

Day two was opened with a dynamic presentation from Dr. Luna on the Art of Scientific Storytelling. Dr. Luna explains techniques to help trainees craft their proposal in ways that are digestible to the reviewer.

Dr. Rafael Luna, NRMN Multi-PI, delivers a captivating presentation on the Art of Scientific Storytelling to SETH Grant Writing and Shark Tank trainees on the second day of the grant writing training at Morehouse School of Medicine.

During the next session, A Novel Coaching-Group Approach to Developing Grant Writing Skills, Dr. Engler provides an introduction to the coaching group model and the resources that trainees will be afforded to trainees over the next few months. After the overview of the Grant Writing Coaching groups, the trainees participated in breakout sessions with their assigned coaching groups. Coaching groups included a leader coach and 4-5 junior faculty divided by the type of research – basic, clinical or social/behavioral. In the coaching groups, each trainee presented the specific aims of their proposed research to the group for review and feedback. This face-to-face kick-off session launches a four to six-month period when the groups will reconvene via a virtual platform to continue reviewing and refining their grant proposals, with the goal of submitting competitive grant applications at the end of the coaching season.

NRMN SETH discussion table

Dr. Hon Yuen, a newly trained SETH coach, leads a coaching group discussion and provides insight on proposal writing and techniques. The trainees listen attentively as he gives advice on improving writing skills.

Day three opened with a morning session, Deconstructing NIH, which was led by Dr. Engler, who provided the grant writing faculty with more information for gaining research independence. And a clearer understanding for the expectations of grant proposal submissions. Following this session, Bob Taylor, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, provided a lecture on Surviving Peer Review discussing tips on writing for the reviewers.

SETH also launched two very innovative programs during this training event: Shark Tank and the Health Disparities Learning Collaboratory (HDLC). The Shark Tank initiative was launched by RROC Associate Director Jonathan Stiles, PhD to target trainees who have plans for re-submitting their proposals. It was designed to provide extra buttress for junior faculty who could benefit from a critical and intensive review of their summary statements. The Health Disparities Learning Collaboratory was launched to provide trainees with a virtual space in which social engagement could ensue after leaving the in-person training. Each coaching group has their own channel in which proposals can be viewed and discussed. The HDLC provides a space to engage in video chat where coach and trainees can interact face-to-face in a virtual space. This innovative technology supports coaching group efforts.

NRMN SETH Stiles Talk

Dr. Jonathon Stiles leads Shark Tank group discussion and provides and critical review of proposals while guiding junior faculty towards research independence. Shark Tank was launched during the 2017 SETH Grant Writing Training.

The final day concluded with a session, Fair Play: Bias in Academia led by Dr. Japera Johnson. This interactive session explored how good-intentioned individuals may be unintentionally bias, irrespective of race and ethnicity. This thought-provoking presentation left participants enthusiastic towards inclusivity in the scientific workforce.


Dr. Japera Johnson delivered a dynamic concluding session, Fair Play: Bias in Academia which left participants thinking critically about inclusivity in academia.

The Institutional Planning Forum, an engaging workshop, was led by RROC Co-Investigator Winston Thompson, PhD with Institutional leaders across the United States discussing the Mentoring Academy Model at Morehouse School of Medicine.

A response from a trainee noted “[This NRMN grant writing training event] really helped me to start prioritizing and focusing. Great to connect with so many bright, engaged, and passionate folks doing good work at NMRN. I am confident that I will be prepared to submit a competitive grant application after this training.”

Overall, the NRMN SETH Training was very successful and there is much excitement about the launch of the Shark Tank Program and the Health Disparities Learning Collaboratory.

NRMN SETH Portrait

(left to right:) Ann Smith, MPH, UAB Director of Training Program; Meldra Hall, MPH, RROC Research Assistant; Kim Lawson, MPH, RROC Program Manager; Japera Johnson, PhD, RROC Research Associate lead the SETH efforts to ensure a successful grant writing training event.

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