This blog still gets quite a lot of daily hits, mostly from people searching for K99 writing tips or advice for new faculty, so I thought I'd give some updates on my progress as junior faculty.
1. I still don't have an R01. I've had multiple grants score within 5% of the payline. I've had grants that would have been funded under this year's payline had they been submitted this year rather than two years ago. This is, of course, all incredibly frustrating. The only thing I can do is to keep refining and submitting.
2. I've learned that it is better to use your best work as preliminary data in a grant BEFORE publishing it. I've had to change aims in my main R01 several times because my lab has been publishing. My most recent R01 submission got the critique that one of my aims was "incremental" because it was building off of a high impact paper my lab had just published. Again, incredibly frustrating, but it's helped me to change my strategy. My lab has not published anything this year, other than collaborative work (which still makes me look productive). We have two papers sitting on the shelf that are ready to be submitted as soon as I get my R01 funded on those projects. I'm terrified of getting scooped, but I can't keep changing my aims.
3. I've learned that having an R56 bridge grant doesn't preclude you from getting another R56 grant. Like I said, I've had lots of close R01 scores. I'm currently in a no-cost extension from my first R56 and am being considered for another one. I will find out about this next month. My department chair laughed about me funding my lab a year at a time...and then very seriously told me that R56's won't be enough to get tenure.
4. My first student is going to graduate this year. I'm very proud of him and he's accomplished a lot. It's time for him to go. I just hate change, and am kind of sad about it, but I'm forcing myself to support him in every possible way. The tricky bit about this is that since I don't have 3 YEARS of stable funding secured (as required by the program I recruit students from), I am not allowed to take on a new student. So my lab will shrink when he leaves and I can't do anything about it. This is at the time when I need to be at my most productive. Again, frustrating.
5. A lot of people have contacted me to say that my very first blog post helped them in writing their K99 and other career grants. (Apparently it's pretty easy for people to figure out who I am and contact me based on what I've written on here) I've also given out my K99/R00 to a few people over the past few years, and I'm very proud to say that I know of at least three who used my grant as a template and were funded. I love hearing about this stuff, so do keep letting me know.
Anyway, I'm still plugging away, doing good science, and hoping for the best!