Grant money drives research, but obtaining funding can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the process. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to show you the ropes?
That’s why three postdoctoral fellows from Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology were asked to present a sort of crash course in how to get those almighty research dollars. The talk, given as one of INBT’s professional development seminars on July 27 to a group of graduate, undergraduate and a few high school summer research interns, covered basics, as well as some commonly overlooked issues encountered in the grant application process.
“When applying for grant funds you have to assume that everyone else also has a good idea. Your idea has to be better than great; it has to be outstanding,” Eric Balzer told attendees. Balzer is a postdoctoral fellow with professor Konstantinos Konstantopoulos in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
He also advised the group to avoid novice grant writing errors such as “submitting a proposal on lung cancer to an agency that only funds breast cancer research.” In other words, read the funding agency’s mission statement.
Yanique Rattigan stressed the importance of avoiding overly complex language in grant applications. “Grant reviewers often include patient representatives who are not scientists and engineers, so you have to make sure that there is a section describing the research in lay terms that they can understand,” offered Rattigan, who is conducting research in the pathology lab of professor Anirban Maitra at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Granting agencies look to fund novel research ideas, explained Daniele Gilkes. “They want to know how your work will fill in the knowledge gaps that exist in the field. You can determine this through thorough analysis of the current literature pertinent to your area of research,” added Gilkes, who works with Denis Wirtz, the Smoot Professor of Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering.”
The group stressed the need to edit and re-edit a grant application prior to submission, and emphasized the importance of choosing the right referee to compose letters that truly support the candidates potential for independent research.
The teams’ insight into the grant application process can be found in this SlideShare slide show, click here.
Story by Mary Spiro.