NORDP Liaison Report: Society for Neuroscience

Annual Meeting Report: Special News Related to NIH Early Stage Investigators

Inês Tomás Pereira, Research Development and Support Specialist at Brown University’s Carney Institute for Brain Science, serves as a NORDP liaison to the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), where she has been a member for 15 years.  She recently attended the SfN Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, and offers the following summary.

The SfN annual meeting typically gathers almost 30,000 people for a five-day conference covering all aspects of neuroscience, with hundreds of concurrent lectures, symposia, minisymposia, nanosymposia, posters sessions, and professional development workshops. This year’s conference was special because the Director of Pereira’s institute, Diane Lipscombe, was also the President of SfN.

The session most relevant for NORDP members was entitled “Optimize Your Grant Application: News You Can Use From the NIH.” This session was targeted at Early Stage Investigators (ESI) and included information that was useful broadly to all grant applicants and research development professionals. The first presentation included advice from a representative from the NIH Center for Scientific Review, explaining the review process at NIH generally.

A senior member of NIMH provided statistics for NIMH funding for FY19 ($1.87B for FY19) and stated that the institute expects a relative increase in appropriations for next year. The R61/R33 program was highlighted as a mechanism that is being used to fund novel interventions. In regard to funding priorities for the NIMH, suicide prevention continues to be a topic of interest. In addition, RD professionals can find upcoming concept clearances from NIMH Council meetings for RFAs, Pas, and RFPs here. Specifically for ESI, the institute highlighted their NIMH BRAINS initiative, which is similar to the NIH DP2 and DP5 awards.

NINDS staff presented next. This is the largest of the neuroscience-related NIH institutes, with a budget of $2.27B in FY19 (~60% R01, ~10% BRAIN Initiative). The institute has reported a decrease in funding of basic research, and their analysis indicates that there is a comparable decrease in applications in that area. They would like to see those numbers increase and strongly stated that NINDS research does not need to be disease related. The main special initiatives at the Institute continue to be the BRAIN Initiative, efforts in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias research (partnering with NIA), and the new HEAL Initiative (with NIDA) to enhance pain management and improve treatments for opioid misuse and addiction. The strongest message to ESI was that the institute has a payline boost for ESI only for R01 mechanisms, not R21, R03 or U01 (or multi-PI proposals with a non-ESI PI). NINDS encourages early career researchers to apply through R01 mechanisms, highlighting that alignment with large initiatives may further help their funding chances.

The session continued with a presentation from the NIA. Their main focus in the neurosciences space is predictably in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias. The NIA general payline is 20%-23% depending on funding mechanism, but it is 28%-31% for AD/ADRD topics. These have temporarily been reduced due to the continuing resolution that the NIH is operating under. The NIA then highlighted three new R03 small research grant calls in AD/ADRD: PAS-19-391, PAS-19-392, and PAS-19-393. Their strong message to ESI was to utilize all resources available. The NIH generally encourages researchers to contact institute personnel to ask questions about funding mechanisms and the fit of their research to the different Institutes.

The session closed with a presentation from a NIDA senior staff member. NIDA currently has a $1.4B budget, of which ~$264M is dedicated to AIDS research and ~$250M to opioid-related research. New institute interests focus on the effect of cannabis on the most vulnerable populations: prenatal, adolescents, and older adults. NIDA highlighted that different NIH institutes may fund different aspects of cannabis studies, so it is crucial to check with each agency to ensure that the proposal fits their mandates. Their opioid funding efforts are aggregated under the HEAL Initiative. Finally, NIDA highlighted the ABCD Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development program and emphasized that this is an open science effort, so data is available for further studies.

If anyone has any questions regarding SfN, the recent annual meeting, or if you are also a member of SfN and would like to connect Ines, send an email to


NORDP Pacific Hosts Inaugural Meeting in Davis, CA

For NORDP’s Pacific Region VII, October 2019 marked the first regional conference occurring outside of the national annual conference. The event was hosted by the University of California, Davis on October 24th and 25th. The opportunity to meet regionally drew 75 participants from varied and diverse organizations of higher education, national laboratories, medical centers, research institutes, industry, and independent consultancies across the Western region.

The conference theme was “Leveraging Strengths in the West: Diversity, Excellence, and Partnership.” The Planning Subcommittee developed a two-day agenda focused on extending professional networks, establishing new partnerships, and sharing knowledge of best practices, processes, strategies within the research development (RD) field. Review session descriptions and contributing presenters within the event’s full agenda.

Keynote speaker, Mark Lagrimini, Vice Provost of Research and Extension, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, opened the meeting by embarking on a conversation highlighting the current federal funding trend, and how institutions in higher-education can position themselves to advance research efforts by making institutional investments into research enhancing activities, such as RD. A panel discussion, “Responding to Change: Sustaining Research Development in the Current and Future Funding Environment,” continued this conversation by looking at how research development can position institutions to respond to changing funding environments, and how RD offices implement sustainability best practices to help meet long-term operational goals. Day 1 also offered engaging presentation sessions on strategies for developing complex proposals, gathering competitive intelligence, professional development tactics to consider at each career stage, and strategies for coordinating large center grants. The day concluded with a tour of the UC Davis Manetti Shrem Museum and networking dinners setup around the presentation and breakout session topics planned for Day 2.

On Day 2, an opening panel session, “Seizing the Road Less Traveled: A Panel Discussion on Alternative Career Paths in Research Development,” introduced several alternative career paths for RD work outside the university setting. The panel was followed by interactive presentations, roundtables, or breakout sessions covering strategies for fostering research collaborations, cross-campus partnerships, creating a culture of grantsmanship at predominantly undergraduate and teaching institutions, creating workshops ideas for faculty and trainee proposal writers, building faculty and RD professional resilience, and using Airtable as a project management tool.

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Regional meeting attendees represented diverse institutions from Pacific region which encompasses Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington as well as British Columbia, Eastern Russia, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries east of China.

The agenda also included knowledge-sharing and networking beyond the meeting sessions. A lunch activity solicited insight from attendees on the best resources (books, websites, tools) used to facilitate RD work and build multidisciplinary teams. The event also allowed time for participants to engage and network with organizations actively recruiting during a Career Opportunities activity.

The conference closed with an open forum on how NORDP can continue to promote regional engagement throughout the year as well as capturing reflection thoughts on the conference’s timing, frequency, format, and setting.  There is excitement to continue holding regional meetings, find other ways to connect, and begin planning what the region may want to build towards in the future.

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Katie Lindl, Proposal Manager, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wins one of six raffle prizes.

The meeting’s regional setting introduced NORDP to 36 newcomers, nearly half of the attendees. The conference was an excellent venue for showcasing the benefits of NORDP while also giving face to names for those serving together on committees through NORDP. Sharon Franks, Senior Director, Research Proposal Development Service at University of California, San Diego commented, “It was a pleasure to hear from and meet so many new folks, as well as to reconnect with those who’d previously attended NORDP conferences.”

NORDP and the Pacific Region thanks all who attended the conference, and contributed to planning and delivering amazing sessions on both days. Thank you also to the members of the Planning Subcommittee, which consists of Crystal Botham, Stanford University; Vanity Campbell, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources; Susan Emerson, Oregon State University; Mike Gallo, University of California, Irvine; Sarah Messbauer, University of California, Davis; Monica Vidal, Stanford University.

Submitted by Vanity Campbell, NORDP Pacific

NORDP Enters the National Conversation on Effective Mentorship at the UNM Mentoring Institute

By Kathy Partlow

Many NORDP members report finding our ‘tribe’ of likeminded individuals when we attend our first NORDP conference. This October, members of the NORDP Mentoring Committee found their second home at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Mentoring Institute’s Annual Conference. With the support of our home institutions, Kathy Partlow, Jan Abramson, and Etta Ward traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 21-25 and joined over 500 attendees that were similarly passionate about mentoring and the role it plays in our professional and personal development.

In a strategic effort to be part of and contribute to the national conversation around effective mentorship in higher education and other industries, several NORDP Mentoring Committee members (Partlow, Abramson, Ward, Scott Balderson, and Paula Carney) authored a peer-reviewed article that was accepted for publication in The Chronicle of Mentoring and Coaching [1] and presented at UNM’s Annual Mentoring Conference.IMG_4660 The aim of the conference is to host a broad constituency, including divisions of higher education, academic researchers, educators, community leaders, administrators, non-profit partners, government agencies, and other professionals around best practices in mentorship and other related topics. The theme of this year’s conference was “towards the science of mentoring.” The conference provided an opportunity not only to showcase NORDP’s work on developing and evaluating Mentoring Program OnBoarding resources, but also to receive critical feedback from evaluation and assessment experts in this space.

From keynote speakers to the hundred plus presentations given by researchers, practitioners, and teachers from across the world, there were a number of trends and common themes throughout the weeklong conference. The Mentoring Committee, through the collective perspectives of over 30 committee members, was already intuitively pursuing these topics on behalf of the NORDP membership.

Mentoring Institute Theme Related On-going NORDP Mentoring Committee Activity
Mentor across differences Mentoring Committee (MC) members hosted a roundtable topic at last year’s NORDP conference on “The Value of Diversity and Inclusion in Mentoring.” The MC is collecting data from Mentoring Program participants to help identify the similarities and differences that contribute to a good match.
Develop a network of mentors The MESHH Network tool in the OnBoarding Packet can help you identify your mentoring network, an important component of our professional development.
Move towards group mentoring In 2019, the MC used the application survey to pilot our first cohort of Peer Mentor Groups (PMGs), supporting the concept of mentoring networks. The MC is developing resources to support the unique needs of these groups.
Pay-it-forward Mentees that have benefited from the Mentoring Program are encouraged to pay-it-forward. Are YOU ready to mentor? Check out this lighting talk from the 2019 conference on making the transition from mentee to mentor.
Use evaluation and assessment to “spiral up” The MC uses surveys of NORDP Mentoring Program participants to enable continual improvement. Many of the MC priorities, activities, and resources developed come from participant feedback. The UNM Mentoring Conference presentation summarizes the evaluation of NORDP Mentoring Program OnBoarding resources.
Mentor the mentors The MC is adapting mentor training for Research Development professionals from the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) curriculum.
Move towards scholarship The MC’s first peer-reviewed paper (pre-print version here) on “Evaluating Professional Society Mentoring Resources Designed to MESHH Matched Pairs” will be published in The Chronicle of Mentoring and Coaching.
Leave time for reflection The MC is developing a new resource for the end of the program year (an ‘OffBoarding’ Packet) to help pairs reflect on the experience. This resource will be shared in Spring 2020.
Build a culture of mentoring The MC’s vision is “as a leading research development organization, NORDP is recognized for a dynamic, sustainable culture of mentorship,” where collectively mentoring each other raises up the quality of us all.

Overall, the NORDP members in attendance at the Annual Mentoring Conference gained information, resources, and approaches that will be invaluable in strengthening mentoring programs and services for NORDP and at our own institutions. At the same time, it was reaffirming to see how well the NORDP Mentoring Committee activities align with common themes and emerging trends as UNM’s Mentoring Institute works to move the field “towards the science of mentoring.”

Have thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with the Mentoring Committee? Interested in becoming involved? Leave a comment or email us at

1. Partlow, K., Abramson, J., Balderson, C.S., Carney, P. & Ward, E (2019). Evaluating Professional Society Mentoring Resources Designed to MESHH Matched Pairs. In Dominguez, N., Neder, C.M., & Zaman, S. (Eds.). 12th annual mentoring conference proceedings (2nd ed.): Towards the science of mentoring [Special Issue 12]. The Chronicle of Mentoring and Coaching, 2(2).



Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Krista Kezbers

Who: Krista Kezbers Ph.D., Research Development Specialist
Where: University of Oklahoma – Tulsa School of Community Medicine
Number of Years in RD: 2.5 years
Length of NORDP Membership: 1.5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?KezbersHeadshot

I, like many others, got into research development more or less “on accident.” After my PhD, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in research, but I have always had a passion and drive for helping. I found a job as a research development specialist that really combined both research and helping perfectly! I currently consult with faculty, residents, and medical students on potential research projects, assist with research question development, methodology, and statistical design. I also run statistics for research projects and work on manuscript development. Our office as a whole works together on finding, assisting, and submitting grants as well.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

Working with faculty or students in academic medicine creates an interesting and unique environment. We know that the primary responsibility of academic clinicians is to take great care of their patients while maintaining a high level of knowledge and expertise. We work with these faculty and students to assist them in advancing their research goals while keeping in mind that research may be a smaller part of their career than a traditional faculty member. Academic clinicians are just as passionate about their research areas, but may need additional guidance and support.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

My boss, Heather McIntosh, first introduced me to NORDP in 2017. She explained it as a community of people who are “just like us” and she was right! We have presented posters together and attended both the 2018 and 2019 NORDP conferences. Last year we started the Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center special interest group in order to find other NORDP members in the community.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

Being a part of NORDP has provided such a high level of resources and connections. Having the list-serv is a constant reminder that research development professionals truly care about helping each other. I have found that we can reach out to any number of NORDP members just to chat or to get advice/feedback and it has been a welcome addition to my knowledge base. We have also met so many people through the monthly AMC special interest group calls.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

I think in research development it is easy to feel “siloed” because there are not many other people in your local community that do what you do. Being a part of NORDP has allowed me to make connections, but more importantly learn and grow from other RDP’s that I look up to in the field. I feel more confident as a research development professional due to the education and resources available from NORDP.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

It is nice to have research development conversations with others who understand the medical setting. For me specifically, other academic medicine research development professional have bene able to provide me with situation-specific advice, which I am very grateful to have received.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting – to get more involved with NORDP?

Take a great idea or research project from your office and submit it for presentation at the next NORDP conference. Presenting at NORDP is a great venue for making connections while learning more about the profession.

The Academic Medicine Special Interest Group was created in 2018 with the goal of providing resources and professional development opportunities for research development professionals (RDPs) working with clinician-researchers/educators in an academic medicine or affiliated medical center setting. Often times, RDPs working with clinical faculty face unique challenges including working with researchers who have less formal research training and less protected time to conduct research. With this in mind, our group meets monthly via Zoom to discuss the challenges and successes we face working in this research environment. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Heather McIntosh at You can also join our Circle, Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

NORDP Webinar: What You Need to Know About the NIGMS MIRA (R35) Program

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

Time: 1:00 pm ET

Title: What You Need to Know About the NIGMS MIRA (R35) Program

Abstract: The NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) eventually intends to support most individual investigators through the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) R35 program. This presentation will provide research development professionals with a quick understanding of NIGMS’ goals and vision for the program, the program requirements, and the application format. The presentation will include updates from the recently released PAR for the Established Investigator program and NOT for the Early Stage Investigator program.

Presenter: Rebecca Terns, University of Georgia;

Registration Link:

Announcing New NORDP Membership Categories

I am pleased to announce that the NORDP Board of Directors has approved two new categories of NORDP membership: Trainee and Emeritus. This step is consistent with our goals to: 1) create a pipeline for new members, and 2) retain the expertise and commitment of active members who wish to continue to participate in NORDP after retirement. Many thanks to NORDP’s Member Services Committee for their thoughtful proposal and recommendations to the Board that resulted in this exciting development, especially to Samar Sengupta and Maile Henson.

Click here for details on Trainee and Emeritus Memberships:


Karen “Fletch” Fletcher
NORDP President

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Jessica Moon

Who: Jessica Moon, Ph.D.
Where: University of Arizona
Number of Years in RD: 3
Length of NORDP Membership: 3

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Moon - NORDP Photo 2019.jpg

Early in graduate school, I realized that, instead of remaining at the bench, I wanted to combine my scientific background with my expertise in writing consultation. By happenstance, I attended a presentation by the grant proposal manager at my institution and knew it was the right fit. She introduced me to NORDP, and I began networking to determine how its members started in RD, their backgrounds, and skillsets, etc. to carve out a career development plan for myself. I was a scientific/technical editor of biomedical manuscripts for an editing company for a few years and then eventually started a small freelance business providing writing consultations on scientific proposals and manuscripts for research faculty. After obtaining my PhD, I moved to Arizona to be with my husband and obtained my current position as a Research Development Associate at the University of Arizona. As the biomedical science expert in our unit, I primarily support proposal development for the five health science colleges at UA—the College of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, and the College of Public Health.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

Academic medicine institutions seems to have a lot of siloed units, which makes it difficult to determine the effective lines of communication. Sometimes the lines are really obscure, such as a group of faculty that go running every day from 12–1 pm. Thus, institutional knowledge is construed as “insider information.” Moreover, the distinction between the medical center and the affiliated institution is sometimes blurry, which makes it difficult for faculty to determine where to find the right support in developing their research programs.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I attended many of the NORDP NE regional meetings before finally attending my first NORDP National meeting in Denver, CO.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

When I moved to AZ, I wanted to stay involved in NORDP, so I looked up local members on the directory. I reached out to the Director of UA Research Development Services, Kim Patten, and learned that the unit was hiring for my current position. “The job posting closes tomorrow”—it was the quickest CV and cover letter I’ve ever written.

I recently became involved with the Affiliated Medical Centers (AMC) affinity group and have been impressed and enthused by the caliber of discussion and willingness of its participants to share knowledge.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

As mentioned above, the NORDP community was very welcoming and supportive of my career goals. The numerous discussions with fellow members allowed me to carve out a successful career path to RD. I am excited to be involved in the AMC group and attend the NORDP National 2020.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

NORDP is the primary venue to learn and share best practices about RD. It’s helpful to hear how different RD units tackle the same goals in unique ways depending on the needs/structure of their institution.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting — to get more involved with NORDP?

The NORDP Regional meetings are a good place to start if you are in an area that has regular meetings outside of NORDP National, because they’re smaller and, thus, easier to network and find opportunities for becoming involved. At the national level, the Peer Mentoring Group and the affinity groups are helpful for building relationships and starting to think strategically about advancing career goals and best practices to support faculty.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.