My R01 grant is being re-reviewed in two days, and I'm having a very hard time working on the safety protocol that I came in on a Saturday to work on, so instead I made a list of some of my thoughts and advice on R01 grant writing.
1. Just how focused should my grant be? I got the advice that I should really drill down into one specific aspect of my specific topic. However, to have three aims going in exactly the same direction is really tough, and it’s unlikely that a new PI will have enough preliminary data to write an R01 this way. My R01 that was scored reasonably well had all three aims on different aspects of the same protein, i.e., post-translational modifications, interacting partners, and enzymatic activity. I did it this way because we had really strong preliminary data on all three of these things, but if I were to have made the entire grant about post-translational modifications, for example, I would not have had enough preliminary data, and it would have been very hard to make the aims independent of one another.
2. Should I propose to use a mouse model that I need to make? Noooo! You need to have it already made, unless you are the world’s expert on making mice.
3. Can I use extra space left over on my biosketch to address various concerns? Yes, the personal statement can be used to highlight your training and accomplishments and also alleviate any concerns that you think the reviewers might have. I also addressed a reviewer critique regarding potential overlap with another grant in the Research Support section of the biosketch.
4. Spend a lot of time writing the “Environment” section of your grant. If you are not at Harvard, then you probably need to make this section of your grant really, really strong. What people are in your department and university who are working on complimentary things? What seminar series do the various departments have? Who has spoken in the past and who is scheduled that will be beneficial for your work? Is there a journal club or seminar series specific to your research topic? If not, start one! One of my colleagues actually started a group on his topic for this exact reason, i.e., to be able to say on grant applications that this awesome group exists making the environment here really great. He called it the Fill-in-the-blank-State Basketweaving Assocation and gave it a nice acronym (FBA) and invites speakers once a month to come and give a seminar that are teleconferenced to a few locations around the state.