Speed Grant Review Provides Researchers with Valuable Feedback

Posted in GUMC Stories

FEBRUARY 27, 2014— Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center (new window) (GUMC) and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (new window)took part in a speed grant review session geared to making junior researchers’ proposals more competitive in a difficult funding climate.

The Feb. 24 event, sponsored by the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs (new window) and the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (new window) (GHUCCTS), enabled junior faculty to conduct quick review sessions of specific proposals with senior faculty, who provided direct and concrete feedback.

The goal of the event, which organizers say they hope to make a regular occurrence, was to help Georgetown faculty become more successful with their grant writing, says Priscilla Furth, MD (new window), professor of oncology and medicine and associate dean for faculty development.

“We’re holding this review session months before grants have to be submitted for review,” says Furth. “Senior faculty can easily pick up errors that can be fixed and help researchers better frame their grants.”

Participants were required to submit a specific aims page prior to the event. Two reviewers critiqued each submission. Each reviewer has significant experience writing and submitting successful grants and thus offers valuable insight.

Outside Perspective

“Having an outside perspective on one’s research can identify areas that are unclear or help an investigator create a more persuasive argument for why their proposed work is important,” says Kristi Graves, PhD (new window), assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (new window), who co-chaired the event along with Darren Mays, PhD, MPH (new window), also assistant professor at Georgetown Lombardi and Nady Golestaneh, PhD (new window), assistant professor, departments of ophthalmology, neurology, biochemistry and molecular & cellular biology.

One researcher, Luciane Cavalli, PhD (new window), brought a proposal on triple-negative breast cancer in Latinas. Two of her reviewers come from different medical backgrounds and were able to give her some novel insight, she says.

“After this, I am able to have a broader vision of both the clinical and science application of my proposal,” says Cavalli, assistant professor in the department of oncology. “Some of my aims’ translational component was not clearly articulated, so it allowed me to revise and strengthen the clinical significance of the proposal.”

‘Selling’ Your Grant

Kenneth Kellar, PhD (new window), professor of pharmacology and one of the reviewers, reminded researchers of a few basic take-away messages when it comes to writing grants.

“One of the most important things to remember is the people who will be reviewing your grant are probably not in love with your work the way that you are,” says Kellar. “You have to make it easy for them to review it, and you need to sell them on it.”

By Sarah Reik
GUMC Communications