NRMN Proposal Preparation Program

//NRMN Proposal Preparation Program
NRMN Proposal Preparation Program2018-10-05T18:05:40-04:00

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 underrepresented backgrounds successfully obtaining NIH grants.

Program Note: We are finishing the first phase of NRMN and are looking forward to the next round of programs. NRMN program offerings vary during the transition time, and unfortunately, we are not able to offer new grant writing coaching groups during the 2018-2019 academic year. The next round of program offerings will be known early 2019. We encourage you to take advantage of what NRMN can offer in the short-term (e.g. guided virtual mentoring, networking on MyNRMN) and look forward to the next phase, which will begin in July 2019. Please consider signing up for the grant writing coaching group digest to receive notifications about future grant writing programs if/when they become available by clicking HERE. Contact with any questions.

GUMSHOE Hall Lecture

Current Locations:

University of Minnesota (UMN)
University of Utah (UU)
Program Directors

Drs. Anne Marie Weber-Main & Cliff Steer

Dr. Joseph Sanford


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-P3 program.

Mentees interested in applying to NRMN-P3 should consider the following:

  • NRMN-P3 is a 4-month, writing-intensive, small group experience, designed 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.
  • NRMN-P3 is 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 or experienced colleague (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-P3 cohort, 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 section, in which participants receive a written and oral critique of their draft proposal from experts in their respective fields.
  • Upon completion of the program, trainees will receive a 6-month, 12-month, and 18-month assessment to complete. These assessments will help improve NRMN and other programs in the future.

Coaches in NRMN-P3 will be asked to do the following:

  1. Review and critique mentees’ specific aims pages and biosketches one week prior to program kickoff.
  2. Attend a 2-day, in-person, kickoff in Minneapolis, MN or Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Participate in at least 5 of the 7 scheduled virtual peer review meetings. Beforehand, read and critique a subset of mentees’ proposal drafts in progress.
  4. Attend a 1-day, in person, closeout session in Minneapolis, MN or Salt Lake City, UT for the practice study section and consultations with mentees.

Eligibility Requirements

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


  1. Grant Writing Experience – Moderate to advanced
  2. Career level* and Proposal Type:
    • 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-P3 Program begins.)
  3. Citizenship U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
  4. 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-P3 Program.
  5. 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.
  6. Timing of proposal submission – Applicant plans to submit the proposal within 6 months after completion of the NRMN-P3. (Note: Investigators whose intended submission date occurs before the end of the P3 program will not be reviewed.)
  7. Quality of local mentorship – Applicant identifies an appropriate local mentor or other experienced colleague who commits to providing critical feedback on the proposal’s scientific content during its development.
  8. Sufficient time for the program – Applicant commits to full participation in all NRMN-P3 sessions, activities, and assignments as detailed in the schedule.
  9. 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.


  1. Success with writing and being awarded NIH proposals (preferably within the past 10 years, or otherwise has remained up to date on NIH procedures and trends).
  2. Experience giving feedback and guidance to others writing NIH research or research career development biomedical research proposals.
  3. Skills in small-group facilitation, such as drawing out others’ input, managing different personalities, and keeping a group on task.
  4. Institutional responsibilities related to guiding the development of early-career scientists.
  5. A desire to learn and apply the proposal writing and coaching strategies used in the NRMN-P3 model with future cohorts of mentees as part of NRMN.
  6. Sufficient time to devote to the Coaching experience.

Other desirable experiences, skills, and interests:

  1. Experience serving on NIH study sections for review of research and/or individual research training awards (preferably within the past 10 years, or otherwise has remained up to date on NIH procedures and trends).
  2. Experience mentoring scientists from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Institutional responsibilities related to guiding the development of early-career scientists.

Although NRMN supports the training and career development of individuals from groups identified by the NIH as underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research careers, eligibility to participate is open to all individuals who meet the program eligibility criteria, and is not limited to individuals who belong to an underrepresented group. 

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

Locations and Type of Sessions

Please see the above Program Note for information regarding future Grant Writing Coaching Groups


Size of Instructor Cohort: 2 NRMN faculty; up to 4 coaches in training
Size of Cohort: up to 10 mentees
Total Program Duration: 4 months
Key Activities and Dates: Two different NRMN-P3 cohorts will kickoff January 2018. The application will open Sept 7, 2017 for both.
2-Day Kick-Off: In-person orientation and training at corresponding location

  • Review and refinement of Specific Aims
  • Features of successful proposals
  • Panel discussion with NIH study section reviewers
  • Individual meetings with NRMN-P3 coaches

Online Sessions Across 3-4 Months:

  • Seven group sessions for review of draft in progress (biweekly, 2 hours each, 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: Mock study section for participants’ proposals/debriefing


Not currently offering grant writing programs


Not currently offering grant writing programs

Application Process

Please see the above Program Note for information regarding future Grant Writing Coaching Groups


Travel and hotel funds are available to help support each participant’s attendance at in-person sessions. Applicants will be notified of their status at least 3 weeks prior to the in-person kickoff.

To apply, follow these steps:
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:

Not currently accepting coaches
Not currently accepting mentees

Not currently accepting coaches
Not currently accepting mentees

3. The application will prompt you to upload two additional documents:  A signed Content Mentor Support Form (click here to download form), which both the applicant and Content Mentor will need to sign, and a draft Specific Aims Page (in NIH format) for the proposal you will be working on during the program.