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Dear GrantDoctor,I am interested in applying for a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01). Do you have any suggestions on how to approach these types of grant applications (e.g., necessary detail for proposed studies, reasonable number of proposed studies)?- Thanks, J-P


Dear J-P,

The K01 award is given by the National Institutes of Health to provide "intensive" career development support in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences. Typically, applicants have a research or health-professional doctoral degree as well as postdoctoral research experience when they apply.

You ask about how much "necessary detail" you need to include. Well, let me just say you better start honing your organizational and planning skills!

In applying for one of these awards, you need to show reviewers what you plan to do over a 3-, 4-, or 5-year period of supervised research. You must also show that you have the potential to be independent and productive. Reviewers will want to see how well you plan to solve a biomedical or behavioral problem using basic or clinical approaches. They will also assess your proposal by checking:

  • the scientific and technical merit of the research question, design, and methodology.

  • the relevance of the proposed research to your career objectives.

  • the appropriateness of the research plan for developing research skills described in your career development plan.

  • the adequacy of your plan's attention to child, gender, and minority issues when human subjects are involved.

Your question about what constitutes a "reasonable number of proposed studies" is going to depend upon the type of research you are doing and the institute to which you wish to apply. Roughly half of the institutes within the NIH give K01 awards, but they each may emphasize different aspects of the overall plan. For this reason, the NIH "strongly encourages" applicants to contact the prospective NIH institute "to discuss issues of eligibility and the specific provisions of this award." In addition to speaking with NIH staff, you also need to discuss your project with your future supervisor--since you are "jointly responsible for the preparation of the plan."

If all that seems a little daunting, don't worry: The next deadline for applications is February 1, 2001, so you have time to brainstorm and come up with a plan that fits the requirements. And if that's not enough time, there are two other deadlines in 2001. In fact, applications will be accepted by February 1, June 1, and October 1 every year (the program is open indefinitely).

You can find more details through the K01 program announcement--including eligibility requirements, phone numbers, and contact information for each institute administering the award. Check out the Career Development Center's Grants and Grantwriting Index for tips on putting together a competitive application. Also read this week's article, "How to Get A Bite of the NIH's Billion Dollar Funding Pie," for up-to-date advice. Good luck!

-- The GrantDoctor

Dear GrantDoctor,I work as postdoctoral fellow in molecular and medical genetics. My salary comes from the NRSA-NIH fellowship. I will like to have additional financial support (like the American Liver Foundation Fellowship) compatible with the NIH funding. Is it possible to find a list of foundations that provide this kind of grants??-- E.M.


Dear E.M., More money is always welcome! My trusted source at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells me that you can apply for additional finances to supplement your National Research Service Award (NRSA) without conflicting with NIH's extramural funding policies. However, new NIH postdoctoral applicants already supported by a full stipend from another funding agency will most likely be ineligible to apply for an NRSA grant.

I spoke with a representative at the American Liver Foundation, who said the foundation expects its postdoctoral applicants to already be supported by funds from other agencies. But you should be sure to report additional sources of income and research support on the application. A similar rationale may be explicit in the policies and guidelines adopted by other funding agencies to which you are interested in applying.

As for a list of such foundations, that's pretty difficult, because many different research topics can be categorized under "molecular and medical genetics." To get started, however, you might want to read Shortcuts to Success and peruse Next Wave's Global Funding Links page. For specific funding opportunities, check out GrantsNet's funding database for information on grants available to you.

Good luck!

-- The GrantDoctor

Due to the high volume of questions received, The GrantDoctor cannot answer all queries on an individual basis. Look for an answer to your question published in this column soon! Thank you!