by Gaoyuan Liu
On Wednesday, May 3rd and Thursday, May 4th NRMN hosted the closing segment of the Northwestern University Grant Writing coaching group program at Boston College. The curriculum is designed to guide postdocs and junior faculty members in developing the skills to write successful NIH-style proposals. The coaching group, which had its kickoff event on Tuesday February 21st, met for two final days during which instructors provided closing remarks and participants shared their polished grant proposals. A majority of the two-day session was devoted to a “mock study section” designed to replicate the environment of an NIH grant proposal study section and to give mentees in the coaching group insights into the kinds of questions and conversations that take place during the grant reviewing and scoring process.
Dr. David Takeuchi, Ph.D. and Professor Associate Dean for Research at Boston College’s School of Social Work, joined program coaches Dr. Daniel Jay and Dr. Karl Munger to provide feedback on participants’ writing throughout the program.
On closing day, Takeuchi noted that despite the intensive process, there were advantages to having a large grant-writing group. One of these advantages is the ability to include a wider diversity of people with different interests. “Since a lot of times the review committees get proposals from different areas, the large group captures the reality of grant reviews,” he said. “Also, it allows people who are participating to communicate their ideas to researchers from different disciplines, a good skill to learn in general.”
On the same day, participant Dr. Raquel Ramos, Ph.D., MSN, MBA, RN presented her finalized proposal, which explored novel web-pages techniques to encourage HIV self-testing among African American and Latino male populations in NYC. Following her presentation, she said that the process was exceptional as she felt safe presenting her ideas with peers and friends who had her best interests in mind. She noted the professionalism of the coaches, “who are leaders in the field and have been performing this type of training for years.”
Ramos agrees with the importance of being able to present to different and broader types of audiences.
“I definitely have a lot more confidence. Throughout our sessions, I got such great feedback and it let me step away from my proposal and think about it differently, and helped me describe the research I want to do. I’m fortunate and my writing wouldn’t have been as successful without the program,” she said.
Ramos is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Self & Family Management at the Yale School of Nursing.