Sunday, March 16, 2014

Awesome books about writing an NIH grant

I wanted to share a couple of books which list all the things I wish I knew before I applied for my first research grant from the National Institutes of Health: Research Proposals: A Guide to Success and How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded: An Insider's Guide to Grant Strategy. These books are perfectly complementary to each other providing an in depth description of the functioning of the NIH and of the review process and a thorough primer on how to write an R01 proposal. They both are available in the Kindle edition which is much cheaper than the paperback.

How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded. About the authors: Michelle Kienholz is a grant writer and consultant with extensive experience in helping scientists obtain NIH funding and Jeremy Berg is the former director of the NIGMS, one of the NIH Institutes. The foreword is written by former NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni, who says that this is the book to get if you want to understand the NIH.
About the book: This is the ultimate guide to the NIH, starting from a thorough description of the different institutes, their different philosophies and their paylines updated to 2012-2013. This book will tell you who the different grant management officials are (literally there are links to the name of all of them), what they do and how/when to interact with them appropriately. You will learn how a grant is reviewed and in addition you will receive great advice on how to structure your proposal so that it is understandable and effective. How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded is incredibly well written, easy to follow and a treasure trove of advice to help you be successful in your grant application by developing the best grant application strategy. I would highly recommend the Kindle edition since there are hundreds of links sprinkled throughout the book and in the Appendix to find all the information you may need online. $15.65 on Amazon for Kindle, $28.45 paperback

Research Proposals. About the authors: Thomas Ogden was a professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and Israel Goldberg is a grant writing consultant and president of Health Research Associates.
About the book: Though the last edition was published more than 10 years ago, this is still an excellent basic book on how to structure and write grant proposal for the NIH. The bulk of the book deals with R01 proposals and each chapter focuses with one portion of the grant giving you solid advice on what to stress and what to do to convince the reviewers. At the end there are a few smaller chapters on other types of applications such as training (K and T) grants, program projects (P01) and business grants. Some of the specific information is outdated and it can be easily found in "How the NIH" reviewed above, but the description of how to think about approaching an R01 and how to communicate your science is timeless. I have been using this book for a while and spent a lot of time chasing it around to get it back from people who borrowed it. $39.69 on Amazon for Kindle, $53.02 paperback (much cheaper if you buy used)

Another book I read recently is Storytelling for Grantseekers: A Guide to Creative Nonprofit Fundraising. I'm not sure I would recommend the book itself, since it focuses much more on helping small governmental and non-governmental organization shape their funding applications to foundations, so it is difficult to translate the approach for biomedical applications. I bought it because I was interested in using storytelling techniques to improve the flow and readability of my applications. After all an R01 can be easily turned into a three-act play and generating tension between a hero and an antagonist which is resolved at the end is a dramatic technique people respond to. I still need to figure out how to build it in...

Please let me know if you have found books you like.