We just completed a round of S10/ HEI Shared Instrumentation Grants, and have had a chance to reflect on our top tips for a successful S10/HEI experience.
Biosketches and Other Support
Created your new biosketch without any problems? Didn’t think so…
New SF424: Is there anything more annoying than keeping up with (seemingly endless) NIH Biosketch form changes? You can add your users names for them and send them the new form to ensure they have the correct version.
Link to NCBI “My Bibliography”: Trigger Warning: this is a lot of mindless clicking around on NCBI. We can only hope this process gets more streamlined. Really? 4 separate clicks to add a single citation?! (Don’t make me get out my interrobang!) Check out My Bibliography here. To create your own; create an account and add your publications. Simple.....sort of.
New Section C: This new section allows you to describe your top transformative contributions to science! We are not yet sure how important this will be and if there will be cross talk between this and other parts of the proposal. If you're a core director you may be thinking this is awful because you have added immensely to the body of knowledge through hard work on other PIs publications that you do not have authorship on. Take HEART. You do not HAVE to be listed as an author on the publication, it is up to YOU to describe your contributions. Listing a key publication that builds on your work is one way of doing so.
Section D Research Support: “List both selected ongoing and completed research projects for the past three years.”
Other Support: This separate section should includeongoing and pending.
Why “ongoing” support is repeated… mere mortals like us may never know…
Equipment: You need to make good arguments for why you have chosen THIS manufacturer and this model. NIH is on the lookout for people who are trying to line their friend’s (that Perkin Elmer sales rep's) pocket.
Start early, start NOW even, the day after the grant has been submitted. Gather data that functionally shows why the new method is better than the old. Demo the instrument in your institution (and arrange to have your major users collect actual comparative data), bring samples to another institution, or send them out to a core facility somewhere in the country, the ABRF marketplace is a good place to find available instrumentation. This can be a bit tricky, in effect you are saying “I know that we SAID this way was best and you funded us for it already, but really this other way is SOOOO much better, so give us some more dough”. You want to tie the results of the data to the methodology; what more can you know about the science using this method? Just because you can “see” something better does not necessarily mean that is a great argument (think justifying confocal vs. super resolution microscopy, yes its cool that you can resolve past the diffraction limit, but does that significantly impact the actual findings?).
If your major users have simply given you the specific aims from their R01 you need to re-write. Remember, their grant has already been funded!! You are not justifying the reasons why that research needs to be performed, you are justifying why these data have to be collected this way to leverage the investment the NIH has already made in those R01s. Send your PIs a checklist of the instrument's unique features to make it easy for them to incorporate.
I add a small bulleted checklist after each user that explains which features of the requested instrumentation are transformative for that project and a summary paragraph, in italics and bolded.
Letters of NON support:
This can be just as important as letters of support!!! Obtain letters of “non support” if similar instrumentation exists in your city; why can’t you use that instrument? Particularly important for other NIH funded S10 instruments in shared settings.
Financial: Year 1 operation costs, year 2-5 operation costs, we included a line item for salaries, service contracts, supplies, with associated chargeback revenue
Comparison with similar systems: include key features
Accessory features: Detail the need and users
Users: grant number, title, date, field of study, and AUT % or hours
Lastly, and I’m sure this tip could actually go without saying but, try not to annoy your reviewers with shoddy formatting!!! All fonts need to be the same. Absolutely no sloppy cut and paste jobs. Use the tab key to indicate a new paragraph, put a space in between paragraphs to make your proposal easy to read. Use subheadings when needed.
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September 30, 2014
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