NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: How to write a successful NIH Career Development Award (K award)

How to write a successful NIH Career Development Award (K award)

Presenters:           Mark Roltsch, University of Western Florida

Thanks to session our session note-taker, Burr Zimmerman, Urban Venture Group!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • There are many different kinds of K awards
    • Some schools support K-awards, some don’t:  K awards require the faculty member have 75% protected time for research
    • Medical Schools – they tend to like K-awards. They are viewed as stepping stone to R01s, and five years of training  should get them there.
    • K progression: Start with T32s or institutional K awards, then ‘real K’s’, then R01
      • The R03 award may only be open to folks who have K awards in that institute
      • The R21 is for exploratory, cutting edge; not necessarily good for junior faculty
    • Types of K awards
      • K01 – basic research
      • K08 – clinical research
      • K23 – patient-oriented research
      • K25 – quantitative research
      • K01  – diversity award / minority serving institution
      • K99/R00 – post doc who is transitioning
        • Walk into job interview with 3 years of funding
        • Don’t have to be US citizen, so lots of applicants
  • Selecting a target institute – faculty should:
    • Match topical area with your mentor’s funding source
    • Email program officer, get feedback (not just topical, but also which mechanism – K01, K23, etc.)
    • Carefully read the PA/RFA to identify participating institutes and their specific topics
    • Engage with NIH staff at the conferences your mentor attends
  • Read the PA/RFA
    • Check dollar amount (for MDs, $100k for 75% of time is a paycut – usually the university or school supplements the salary)
    • The review section is what to emphasize in your application
  • What does it take to get funded?
    • Essential: well-funded primary mentor (if he or she hasn’t mentored before, form a mentoring team)
      • Need to emphasize mentoring experience, NIH funding
      • Mentor needs to be co-located. Across the hall ideal. Across town isn’t great. Across the state doesn’t work.
    • The presenter is from University of West Florida; his own institution wouldn’t ever apply for a K-award – can’t get it.
      • But! Some diversity K awards are possible for smaller institutions.
    • Keys to K award success
      • Time to write a compliant, compelling application
      • Good research idea
      • Quality candidate
      • Qualified mentor
      • Well developed training program
    • Biggest K funders are NHLBI, NIMH, NIDDK
      • NIA funding 40% of K-awards
      • NIGMS funds 85% of K08 awards!

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you? 
K awards can have extremely high funding rates (e.g. NIGMS K08s 86% funded), and average over 30% for entire K spectrum. But the criteria mean only a very small cadre of schools have high success rates

Also, R21s may not be a good mechanism for generating data for your first R01 – they are too competitive and are pooled with experienced researchers. R21’s are highly, highly competitive, and if you’re junior faculty, it might not be a great place to compete, as you don’t get early investigator bonus points.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?
The main resource emphasized was NIH Reporter. Might not be a ‘discovery’, but the presenter emphasized how rich and useful the data are.

Also, FOIA requests are a way to get access to successful applications. Build a library by requesting funded applications. NIH does a better job than some other Federal agencies of providing useful information.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenters’ response?

Different institutes review K awards differently. Funding rates can be very different across K mechanisms. K99 toughest (23%); K23 is 57%, K08 can be nearly 90%.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?  
If you can crack the code (meet all the requirements), K-awards are a great resource. If you can find a nearby, well-funded mentor, then you have a chance!

 

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NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Better Together – Joining Forces to Maximize Success

Better Together: Joining Forces to Maximize Success

Presenters:
Brent Burns
Peggy Sundermeyer
Kerry Morris
Eileen Murphy

Thanks to our session note-taker!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • What National Association of Corporate Relations Organization (NACRO) is and how Research Development staff participation with NACRO can benefit the entire institution.
  • What Corporate Relations can add to Research Development
    1. Work together in a holistic model.
    2. Share resources, co-locate, share administrative support
    3. Companies are spending more money in research & development
    4. Federal funding is decreasing
    5. If we work together, this will move the institution forward
  • How to develop strategies and portfolios for faculty
  • How to bring CR staff to the table at institutions of various sizes
  • Effective ways to share faculty research interests.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?
Resource sharing is not the norm.  Although we criticize departments and the faculty who operate in silos, administrative offices within the same institution are territorial and operate in silos too.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?
NACROnacrocon.org
The Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers brings together U.S. and international academic corporate relations professionals who are dedicated to providing professional development opportunities and sharing best practices that enable members to develop and advance comprehensive, mutually beneficial relationships with industry and establish common language and metrics for peer comparison. Founded in 2007, NACRO has grown to more than 500 individual members.

CASE – www.case.org/
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education.

Profile databases used by CR and RD offices:
SalesForce
Raisers Edge (used by development offices)
Financial Edge

Interesting questions:

Q. How do we guide faculty as to who will get the IP credit when faculty and corporations collaborate?

A:  Break the barriers between the Technology Transfer/IP office and the faculty.

The IP office does the negotiations for the faculty.  Faculty should not be negotiating the IP because they tend to give away more than they should.  The IP offices are trained attorneys, and can speak on behalf of the faculty member’s research.

Q: There are many entities within our institution that reach out to corporations, and we are all unaware these contacts are being made. It appears (rightly so) that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing within the same institution. What do your institutions do to communicate across your institutions of the activity being conducted with corporations?

A:  Michigan Tech Corporate Relations creates an engagement summary and provides this to faculty or leadership who plan to contact corporations.

A: Corporate Relations and Research Development offices need to follow a holistic model – co-locate, share resources and administrative support(especially in decentralized institutions.) There is a slide within the presenters slide deck with details on what the holistic model entails.

 

NORDP 2016 Conference Notes: Empowering women leaders in research through alternative pathways

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Empowering women leaders in research through alternative pathways

Presenters: Alicia Knoedler
Key points from the session:
  1. About 74 – 76% of NORDP members are women.
  2. Leadership Development in Research Development (LDRD) – The skills developed from RD activities qualify RD professionals for leadership roles within higher education institutions and/or within NORDP.
  3. As an RD professional, you are already following the 5 tenets of leadership as defined by Ron Heifetz (these are listed in the session’s Powerpoint presentation).
  4. To be successful in RD today, you must be entrepreneurial, creative, innovative, and not afraid to take risks.
  5. NORDP will work to identify the broad base of skills/ ideas/needs for LDRD. The question of how we, as a professional organization, can empower RD leaders was discussed.
What resources did you discover at this presentation?
Dispatches from 20 North Wacker
A white paper that outlines the concepts and missions of both NORD (New Opportunities for Research Development) and LDRD. (You must be a NORDP member to access this document.)
What else from this session should NORDP members know?
  • It’s not always the RD professional who gets the recognition; RD professionals often lead in the background – working with faculty leaders.
  • Potential next steps were discussed: NORDP could have leadership development cohorts within their LDRD programming. A NORDP curriculum for leadership development could be advanced. The organization could promote leadership development opportunities within the NORDP community – best practices – annotated experiences.

If you are interested in joining the discussion on LDRD, let Alicia know.

NORDP 2016 Conference Notes: Developing research capacity and grant readiness in investigators

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Karen Fletcher

Developing Research Capacity and Grant Readiness in Investigators

Presenters: Marjorie Piechowski and Sarah Polasky

Key points from the session:

  1. Get yourself involved in Faculty Orientation.
  2. Find out how much managerial experience/personnel awareness (HR) your new researcher has – most do not have any; and then provide guidance.
  3. Provide templates on anything you can.
  4. Consider providing editorial assistance for publications.
  5. All recommendations depend on context.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

The suggestion to host a workshop for graduate students before they leave your institution to train the next generation of faculty (focus on managerial skills).

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

An Assessment Tool: PI Grant Readiness, worksheet/list. This is a self-assessment for PI’s on how much preparation they had already completed in order to be competitive for a grant; this could be used as a talking point with junior faculty. Contact presenters (sarah.polasky@asu.edu and piechow4@uwm.edu) for a copy.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

  • Don’t scare faculty with too much information – consider providing them with no more than 5 funding opportunities that are due within the next 6 months.
  • Find out if your new researcher has a research plan with their mentor. Junior faculty usually know little about what grants have been awarded in their area – help them identify those.
  • Grant Readiness should include: 1) Strategic Planning for Research Funding; 2) Ability Assessment; 3) Mentoring Support (individual/internal or external), Departmental, Institutional; and 4) Logistics (lab space, how do you fill out a purchase order, etc).
  • After creating a Strategic Research Grant Plan for a faculty member, re-meet with them after a year to update the plan. Consider asking for a report from them.
  • Provide them project management support.

NORDP 2016 Conference Notes: Demystifyng the U.S. Dept. of Education

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Kristin Wetherbee

Demystifying the U.S. Department of Education

Presenter: Marjorie Piechowski

Key points from the session:

  • The U.S. Dept. of Education isn’t very consistent with funding opportunities. Programs may not be offered every year and there are few established due dates. Formatting and page limit requirements can vary. Also, some submissions must go through grants.gov while other must go through the U.S. Department of Education’s e-grants system.
  • Notices are announced via the Federal Register and the U.S. Dept. of Education website with a minimum 30 day notice (often, only 30 days’ notice is given).
  • Proposals should cite literature from the National Clearinghouse which holds documents about the current state of research.
  • Proposal components:
    • Personnel – must adequately describe role and credentials relative to the proposal
    • Project design and need – often weighed most heavily by reviewers
    • Adequacy of resources – need to address the specifics of what you’re asking for (cost per student, cost share, institutional resources)
    • Evaluation – often weighted heavily, up to 20% of total points. The Department seems to prefer external evaluators so you must provide excellent justification if using your own evaluation tool.
    • Special and competitive priorities – these may or may not be required. Bonus points may be given for addressing them so don’t make reviewers hunt for this language; state clearly and boldly in the proposal.
  • Program officers don’t have to be experts in the field and some PI’s have found that program officer comments are in direct conflict with what the review committee wants.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

The consistency of the Department’s lack of consistency.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?
What else from this session should NORDP members know?
You must routinely visit the U.S. Dept. of Education website to stay current on offerings and deadlines and must thoroughly review calls for proposals for changes from year to year. Also, if you’re interested in being a reviewer for the U.S. Dept. of Education, a Ph.D. is not required (master’s preferred). Register at http://www.g5.gov/.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Strategies to Support Multi-Institutional, Cross-Conference Research Collaborations

by Marilyn Korhonen, Ed.D.
Associate Director Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment
Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Oklahoma

Panelists: Martha Cooper and Nathan Meier

The Traumatic Brain Injury Project is a great example of being ready to seize an opportunity, and it serves as a lesson to watch for such opportunities and be flexible enough to respond. One important aspect of the project is the timeliness and critical need to address concerns about the impact of more than 3 million brain injuries that occur each year, many of which are associated with college athletics programs.

A second critical factor is the presence of an established organizing structure. In particular, the Big Ten Athletic Conference and the Ivy League came together to improve traumatic brain injury prevention, detection, and treatment strategies. While this project aligns with athletic conferences, it is enabled by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which is a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago. The CIC has been in place for more than 50 years, enabling the member institutions to advance their academic missions by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs.

A third factor is the ability to govern, fund, and staff the project quickly and equitably. CIC is governed and funded by the Provosts of the member universities, and coordinated by a staff from its Champaign, Illinois headquarters. Thus the project had a natural, established home. This governing body allowed for focused goals and focused approaches implemented in coordinated ways.

Most of these factors exist primarily outside of research development. So a fourth important factor is to make a case for research and scholarship, and to leverage the resources established for the program. In this case, having a larger sample size of athletes with potential traumatic brain injuries enabled use of evidence-based, clinical protocols. These protocols may lead to collaboration with the Department of Defense, allowing for comparison of TBI based on a greater number of factors.

Finally, the University of Nebraska was in a position to provide leadership as well as physical resources to create a Center for Brain Biology and Behavior, which is attached to their Athletics Performance Lab (all within the football stadium). This strengthens their research program and provides even greater resources to the overall TBI Project. This project has already resulted in 22 research collaboration efforts and 12 distinct sources of funding.

Some of the challenges include:

  1. Increased competition for limited federal funds
  2. Balancing tensions between collaboration and competition
  3. Lack of equity in the institutional contributions of seed funding and other support toward the project.

Ultimately, the presenters expect that a strong focus on common goals will be the key to the success of their project.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Building an NIH Portfolio Without a Local Medical School

By Karen Markin, PhD, Director of Research Development, University of Rhode Island
To build a portfolio of grants from the National Institutes of Health at an institution without a medical school, it is essential to understand the agency’s mission, according to Janet E. Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research development at the University of Tennessee. That mission is to seek knowledge that enhances health, lengthens life and reduces illness and disability.

Nelson was one of three panelists who discussed strategic planning for successful grant-seeking from NIH in an increasingly competitive environment. The panel was part of NORDP’s annual Research Development Conference in Bethesda, MD.

Award rates at NIH are falling, noted Jennifer L. Webster, manager of strategic research initiatives at the University of Tennessee. However, it is still making grants focused on certain initiatives, including precision medicine, antibiotic resistance, cancer, brain research, Alzheimer’s disease and new vaccines.

Institutions without medical schools can compete by focusing on their strengths relative to other institutions. Panelists urged participants to think about the unique strengths of their institutions. For example, panelists Meredith Murr said the University of California at Santa Barbara has a top engineering department with talents it can leverage into NIH awards. The institution also hires strategically, focusing on medical researchers, and buildings collaborations outside the university.

Other tips from the panelists:

  • Invite an NIH program officer to speak at your campus.
  • Organize quarterly networking events and involve off-campus groups
  • Conduct red-team reviews on grant proposals.
  • Offer proposal development workshops.