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!


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

Better Together: Joining Forces to Maximize Success

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?
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.

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:
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 2017 conference materials available!

Presentations from the 2017 9th Annual Research Development Conference are now available on the conference program site. If you presented at the conference and your materials are not posted, please send your final presentation slides (and any accompanying materials) to and we’ll see to it that they’re posted.

Further, thanks to NORDP sponsor Digital Science, we will be making conference presentations available (with indexing, metadata, and DOIs for each presentation) available through a NORDP instance of FigShare in the near future.

Finally, it’s not too soon to start thinking about presenting at the 2018 NORDP meeting! Next year’s meeting will be held Monday, May 7, through Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, VA. We hope to see you there!

2017 NORDP Rising Star Awardees

NORDP Day 2 0591_Rising Star Awardees_3
Madhavi (Maddy) Chokshi, Michael Thompson, Mary J. Fechner

The annual NORDP Rising Star Award recognizes up to three members who have made outstanding volunteer contributions to NORDP. The 2017 Rising Star awardees are Madhavi (Maddy) Chokshi, Michael Thompson, and Mary Fechner.

Madhavi (Maddy) Chokshi, University of Central Florida
A NORDP member since 2014, Maddy attended her first annual conference in 2016. She helped make the 2016 conference a rousing success, serving on the conference planning committee and leading the local activities sub-committee. If you attended a networking dinner or went on a morning walk or run, you can thank Maddy.  She also has served on the Strategic Alliances Committee and is actively engaged in NORDP Region III.

Michael Thompson, University of New Hampshire
Michael has generously shared his humor, knowledge, and expertise with regional and national colleagues since becoming an RD professional in 2013. He has been instrumental in improving NORDP communications. He serves on NORDP’s communications working group, sharing his wisdom with the marketing committees for the 2016 and 2017 conferences. He started the @NORDP_official Twitter account and has been tweeting on NORDP’s behalf ever since.

Mary J. Fechner, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Active in both NORDP and NORDP NE, Mary combines her anthropology Ph.D. training with RD experience to bring a nuanced understanding to her service on NORDP’s annual conference evaluation committee. She is also a co-investigator on a collaborative project with University of Massachusetts, University of Tennessee, and Hanover Research peers to study development of the RD field through analysis of RD job postings and focus group input.


Early Bird Conference Registration ends March 15

All good things must come to an end, and that includes the early registration rate for the NORDP annual conference in Denver this May. Early registration ends on Wednesday, March 15, so don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for a great meeting and save some money! The member rate is currently $460, but that increases to $530 after March 15. For non-members, the rates rise from $650 to $720. There’s still room in some of the pre-conference workshops: don’t delay in signing up! View the program hereRegister today!

NORDP Pre-Conference Workshop Highlight: A Research Development Professional’s Guide to Community-Engaged Research

#NORDP2017 starts Monday, May 8 in Denver, CO. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

A Research Development Professional’s Guide to Community-Engaged Research

Have you wondered what you need to know to assist faculty with engaging the community and developing competitive proposals that include community engaged research?

Have you been approached by a researcher who needs to include community input on a grant proposal but has no idea where to start to engage the community?

Do you wonder if your institution has the necessary expertise and infrastructure to support community – engaged research?

The 2017 NORDP Pre-Conference Workshop entitled:  “A Research Development Professional’s Guide to Community-Engaged Research” will provide research development professionals (RDPs) with an opportunity to increase their working knowledge about community engaged (CE) research.  Presenters will focus on five community engaged research topics including: partnerships, budgets, resources/tools, training and institutional considerations.  A pre-conference survey will assess CE research knowledge, perceptions, and current activities and will help shape workshop content. A collective SWOT analysis will frame CE research from a RDP perspective, highlighting areas where RDPs can make significant contributions and where furture professional development opportunities could be most beneficial.   Case studies will illustrate examples of community engaged research and resources / tools that facilitate community engaged research and community engagement.

About the Facilitators:

Tiffany L. Israel, MSSW, is the Translational Research Coordinator/Community Navigator for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.  In this role, she manages the implementation of the Community Engagement Studio model, a forum for community members to better inform research practices.  She serves as a co-instructor for the Vanderbilt Medical School and supports the development of community engaged research by conducting institutional seminars and guest lectures on best practices for partnering with community to improve the field of research.  Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Ms. Israel, a trained facilitator, gained more than 15 years of experience working in and with the Nashville community most recently as the Director of Programs and Resource Development for the Neighborhoods Resource Center and the Associate Executive Director for St. Luke’s Community House.

Ms. Israel has a Master’s degree in Social Work and Community Practice from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelors of Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University.

Yvonne Joosten, MPH, has an extensive background in population and community health, with expertise in community and patient engagement, community outreach, community development and building academic-community research partnerships. As the executive director of the Office for Community Engagement in the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health she provides input on the institution’s community and public health strategic initiatives related to education, research, outreach and service. Since its inception in 2007, Ms. Joosten has led the creation and management of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core, part of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. She has overseen the creation and implementation of infrastructure and resources to support the planning and implementation of robust community engaged research and mutually-beneficial, sustainable academic-community research partnerships. Ms. Joosten’s work in the academic setting is informed by over 30 years of experience with community based providers and advocacy organizations that serve diverse populations impacted by health disparities. She maintains strong relationships with local community leaders and has developed an extensive network of academic partners, resulting in a unique ability to effectively broker academic-community research partnerships.

Ms. Joosten has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona.

Kim Littlefield, Ph.D., currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Research Development and Learning ( at the University of South Alabama (USA).  In addition to the other responsibilities of this role, Dr. Littlefield facilitates the creation of collaborative research partnerships.  She is a Co-Investigator on USA’s Translational Research Services Center (TRSC) award, which established USA as a partner institution in the eleven member partner network associated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham CTSA award – the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).  As a Co-Investigator on the TRSC project, Dr. Littlefield serves on the national CTSA Collaboration / Engagement Domain Task Force and on the Metrics/Evaluation working group.  In this role, her partnership building efforts have gravitated towards local and regional community engaged research activities.  As a university administrator, Dr. Littlefield’s community engagement research partnership building activities focus on developing institutional infrastructure to connect community and academic partners and showcase community-academic partnerships and projects in searchable, dynamic, and real-time ways.  Dr.  Littlefield’s goals for future community engaged research work include finding creative ways to translate university compliance infrastructure to the community, including human subjects training, IRB review, and grants management capabilities.  She brings an institutional perspective to the evolving discussion about how research development professionals can best apply their expertise and resources to facilitate community engaged research activities.

Click HERE for full information and to register.

Stay tuned for more workshop previews! In the meantime, you can see full descriptions of each workshop HERE.

Each workshop takes an interactive, hands-on approach, introducing new tools, techniques and training to incorporate these tools into your research development activities. Workshops will also provide opportunities for networking through small group discussion and interaction.

Workshop sizes are limited, so please register early. For questions or additional information, please contact Kari Whittenberger-Keith. We hope you to see you in the workshops!


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

2017 Conference Cameo: Kimberly Eck

#NORDP2017 starts Monday, May 8 in Denver, CO. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

Who: Kimberly Eck, Director of Research Development
Where: University of Tennessee
Number of years in research development: 8
Length of NORDP membership: 2
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
How do you unwind? Taking my Boston Terriers for a walk.

As a first-generation college student, I would have never predicted that I would one day have a PhD and be serving as an administrator in an institution of higher education. Like many research development professionals, my understanding of and career in research development have evolved greatly since I started. I am thrilled toeck_pic share more about my background and the value I found in NORDP.

I started working in research development in 2009 when I joined a small consulting firm whose clients came from the health care and public health arena. I was able to leverage my academic background (my PhD is in epidemiology) while working with diverse clients from federally-qualified health centers, to state departments of health, to multi-hospital health systems. It was an intensive introduction to grants, federal funding, and more.

In 2013, I joined the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY). I worked across all disciplines and with even more funders. I was excited to work outside of my comfort zone. As a part of this role, I convened and actively participated in faculty-led workshops and other meetings.

During one of these workshops, a guest speaker – Michael O’Rourke – scribbled five letters on a piece of scrap paper. He handed it to me and asked, “Do these letters mean anything to you?” “N-O-R-D-P,” I read. No, they didn’t. Of course, I quickly googled NORDP and was ecstatic to find this fantastic group of research development. Finally, I found my people!

I attended my first Annual NORDP Conference in 2014. It was incredible! Everyone I met was genuinely interested in learning, sharing, and advancing and legitimizing the field of research development. I had never felt so welcomed by a professional organization before. I started the conference knowing 1 person and left the conference with meaningful contacts at more than 30 institutions. My 2015 conference experience was even better.

Now as the Director of Research Development at the University of Tennessee, I’ve encouraged my team and others to attend the 2017 Annual NORDP Conference. I am most excited to share early results from a research project sanctioned by the NORDP Board of Directors to characterize the field of research development. (Be on the lookout for our brief survey!)

If you are new to research development or to NORDP, my advice is to join the group dinners and breakfast discussions. You never know who you’ll meet. Just make sure to bring extra business cards!


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at