February 1, 2012

  1. Secrecy
    1. Best to share and find out who the unethical researchers are.
    2. Our goal is to solve disease problems, so it might help for other people to know what you’re doing so we don’t have two people sharing the same thing. Can connect with collaborator.
    3. Very few friends in academic medicine, most of us have colleagues. Treat them with respect. Can do bigger, better science with competitors.
    4. Plagiarism—no longer work with unethical collaborators. Your conduct will live well beyond any given incident. Make sure you get outside counsel before you react.
    5. First drafts all crap, decrease sensitivity. Perseverance critical.
  2. Specific aims
    1. Balance general and specific.  Not too methodological
    2. Share a common theme.
    3. Clear, interesting. Are you testing a hypothesis?
    4. Really good understanding of the whole project, methods, reason for doing it. Do the elevator speech. Reviewers always make their decision on that first page. Rarely do they change their mind. You present this great story,  Get them on your side, look to validate original judgment.
    5. Audience will not be your peers. Usually you have three reviewers, only one may be expert.
    6. Your calling card, your sell. Knowing that people actually read them, have to hammer home everything that’s a review criteria. Write the review for them.
      1. Innovation—what is new? Avoid incremental. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean anyone cares.  Links to importance. Might work this time because other efforts failed. Something done in another field, applying to new problem. Sell the concept.
      2. Significance—public health impact, advance clinical care
      3. Approach—Good part of the score.
      4. Environment—milieu , convince people you have infrastructure to carry off proposal.
      5. Investigator—publications, expertise, be the one person best qualified or have a collaborator who is that person to compensate for what you’re lacking. Have to have a statistician. Bring statistician in early, give enough percent effort. Team that’s coherent.
  3. Pragmatics
    1. 1 page or less. Don’t crowd. Diagram depends.
    2. Arial 11 point. 0.5 inch, no headers and no footers.
    3. No excessive use of bold, italics.
    4. First paragraph: significance. Every part of the grant has to be in first page.
    5. Second: what’s known, what’s lacking. The gap.
    6. Third: hypothesis.
    7. Fourth: specific aims.
  4. Examples
    1. Some say to use the first sentence to state the public health impact. Others say not to start with a fact; start with what you’re going to do.
    2. End with a paragraph describing the environment, team.
    3. Use first person, active voice
    4. Wrap up paragraph—what if you find your hypotheses, who cares?
    5. K awards: where is this going? One-trick pony? Where it fits into your career objective.
    6. Brief wording, paraphrase NIH mission—quote them. NIH priorities different from public health importance.
  5. Links
    1. Basic science specific aims
    2. Clinical specific aims
    3. Flow chart for writing specific aims
    4. Tips from Nancy Kressin
    5. 2011 NIH success rates

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