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Grant Writing, Part Two

Speakers to College of Pharmacy faculty on 26 April 2021 shared some practical aspects of applying for grants at Roseman University. 

Finding Grants

The first speaker was Sonia Jones, Roseman’s Director of Grants Administration.  She pointed out that there is a wide array of grantmaking organizations beyond the federal government.  These include state and local governments, professional organizations, private foundations, and business entities.  To find funding opportunities, Ms. Jones suggested seeking primary information directly from the websites of potential funders, such as www.nih.gov for the National Institutes of Health,  www.ed.gov for the U.S. Department of Education, or www.phrmafoundation.org for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.  She also recommended search engines like www.grants.gov, which have the advantage of providing information from a range of funding entities.  For example, the SPIN™ database from InfoEd Global touts itself as the “world’s largest database of sponsored funding opportunities.”  SPIN™ is behind a paywall, but Roseman has an account and employees can get access by contacting Ms. Jones.

Ms. Jones encouraged attendees to take steps to ensure the research they would like to propose aligns well with the priorities of the sponsor.  This principally involves a careful reading the request for proposals, but grantseekers can also benefit from reviewing projects that have been previously funded by a particular grant to see if there is concordance with the project they have in mind.  Most grant websites provide a list of previous awardees or active projects. NIH Matchmaker, an online tool on the NIH RePORTER website, identifies projects that have been previously funded by NIH institutes based on text users enter from their abstract or other keyword-rich source.  In addition, attendees were reminded that all grantmaking bodies employ some type of grants administrator who can be contacted with specific questions.

Resources and Incentives

Dave Rawlins, Interim Assistant Dean for Research in the College of Pharmacy, provided a synopsis of resources the university and college provide to support research.  At the university level, this includes grants administration, the institutional review board, an institutional license to use Qualtrics, and with the inauguration of two new master’s degree programs, the potential to work with graduate students.  In addition, the college provides the opportunity to apply for peer-reviewed intramural grants each year, maintains a contractual relationship with a consulting biostatistician, and offers the opportunity for peer feedback on grant proposals and manuscript submissions.

Dr. Rawlins also highlighted two grant-based research incentive programs the university has implemented.  The first program awards merit pay to faculty who receive a grant that includes salary support.  Depending on other factors, like the amount of indirect costs covered by the grant, faculty may be eligible to receive a bonus of up to half the salary savings the university derives from the grant.  The second program aims to cultivate research activities by sharing with the principle investigator and their college a portion of the indirect costs paid by the grant.  Full descriptions of each of these programs can be found here:  https://research.roseman.edu/grants-administration/policies/

Practical Experiences

The session concluded with experiences from faculty who have been successful applying for different types of grants.  Tim Le, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences, shared his success receiving research funding from industrial sources.  He credited high-profile publications and patents in helping initiate conversations, identify areas of common interest, and form alliances with industrial partners.  Angela Chu, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, talked about her success securing a new practitioner research grant from ASHP.  She emphasized the value for new investigators in being able to demonstrate some level of expertise in the area where they’re applying, identifying collaborators and mentors who will be able to meaningfully contribute to the project, and learning principles of successful grantsmanship.  She suggested that volunteering as a grant reviewer for a professional organization can be very helpful in learning what makes a successful grant.

Helen Park, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, related her experience obtaining a grant from CVS to build a pipeline of qualified, Spanish-speaking pharmacists.  Dr. Park already had working relationships with people at CVS and therefore encouraged faculty seeking funding to not overlook organizations with whom they might already have a connection.  She also emphasized the importance of working with the sponsor to make sure the proposal aligns well with the purpose of the grant and of guarding against the pitfall of overpromising and underdelivering.  Chris So, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, rounded off the session discussing the benefits of applying for an intramural grant through the college.  These benefits include how the grant writing process helps make the research plan more realistic and feasible and how the peer review process can reveal strengths, weaknesses, and new ideas.  He shared examples of how he had been able to derive publications from the intramural grants he had received and encouraged faculty to think about how they too might be able to use grant money to expand and optimize their research outcomes.

If you would like to contribute to The Faculty Development Blog, please contact Tyler Rose at trose@roseman.edu.

Author
Tyler Rose, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy