Write, review, rewrite, repeat—this was the mantra for nine talented assistant professors and post-doctoral fellows who spent their summer developing research grant proposals as mentees in the National Research Mentoring Network’s Proposal Preparation Program (NRMN-P3). This program is designed to support early-stage investigators in their efforts to successfully compete for K- or R-series funding from the National Institutes of Health.
NRMN-P3 mentees adhere to a rigorous writing timeline, with ongoing review of their proposal drafts by coaches who understand the quality of science – and its written presentation – that NIH study sections expect.
“In today’s fiercely competitive funding climate, there’s no room for mediocrity in a research proposal,” notes Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD, an Associate Professor of Medicine and NRMN-P3 coach. “Our goal with NRMN-P3 is to give participants real-world insight into how reviewers will judge their work, while offering strategies for effectively and persuasively presenting their research ideas in writing. It’s not easy to get critiqued week after week, but participants who embrace the process ultimately produce a higher quality proposal.”
“One of the most attractive components of the program was the opportunity to ‘learn and do’,” says NRMN-P3 mentee Cheryl A. Vamos, PhD, MPH. “We left the program with an end product that consisted of a well-developed proposal ready for submission. The mentors were knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated, and the ability to meet and network with other program participants from multiple disciplines around the nation was an added bonus. I would definitely recommend this program to any junior faculty who is looking to improve their grantsmanship.”
The first offering of NMRN-P3 kicked-off in mid June and concluded in late August of 2015, with a combination of in-person and technology-supported virtual meetings. The nine mentees, selected from a competitive application process, were from: University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, Meharry Medical College, University of Kansas Medical Center, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, Temple University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Texas San Antonio, University of South Florida, and University of South Carolina.
Clockwise from top left: Fernando Monroy, PhD, MS, Northern Arizona University; Mary MacDougall, PhD, University of Alabama-Birmingham; Jamaine Davis, PhD, Meharry Medical College; Kenneth Schechtman, PhD, MS, MA, Washington University School of Medicine; Cheryl Vamos, PhD, MPH, University of South Florida; Kellee White, PhD, MPH, University of South Carolina-Arnold School of Public Health; Babalola Faseru, MBChB, MPH, University of Kansas Medical Center; Leah Robinson, PhD, University of Michigan Ann Arbor; Omar Martinez, JD, MPH, MS, Tempe University; Erica Sosa, PhD, University of Texas San Antonio; Clifford Steer, MD, University of Minnesota; Kola Okuyemi, MD, MPH, University of Minnesota; Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD, University of Minnesota; John Grabowski, PhD, University of Minnesota (missing: Jada Brooks, PhD, MSPH, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Marcoita Gilbert, PhD,University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill; Sandra Dunbar, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA, FPCNA, Emory University)
Each mentee was required to be working with a local mentor from his or her institution. In addition to drafting their own proposals, mentees routinely reviewed one another’s work-in-progress as part of the program. “This process offers newer investigators experience in delivering critiques while giving them other writing examples to emulate,” says Weber-Main.
Other NRMN-P3 coaches included Drs. John Grabowski and Clifford Steer from the University of Minnesota. An additional four faculty members from Emory University, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Northern Arizona University and Washington University School of Medicine, respectively, served as Coaches-in-Training, learning the NRMN-P3 model while offering reviews and insights about the NIH review process to the cohort.
The program concluded with an in-person mock study section. Senior scientists from the University of Minnesota — including Dr. Brooks Jackson, Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Medical School –volunteered to serve as reviewers for this final training exercise. NMRN-P3 scholars also participated a professional development seminar with U of MN faculty entitled, “Discussing the Undiscussable: Strategies for Engaging in Difficult Workplace Conversations”.
NRMN-P3 is one of four different but complementary models for research career development training that have been developed for dissemination through NRMN. This model was developed at the University of Minnesota. The three models are currently run from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center, Northwestern University and the University of Colorado-Denver/Washington State University. Trainees and Coaches-in-Training opportunities are available throughout the year.
Click here for more information about these programs and how to apply.
For questions about participating in this programming, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors: Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD with Kristin A. Eide, MPH