Program Coordinator University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Melissa Nickell (University of Kentucky)| Brett Spear (University of Kentucky)| Donald Frazier (University of Kentucky)
The overarching goals of the University of Kentucky (UK) IMERS workshops, supported by an IPERT grant, are to empower faculty at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to develop and submit competitive research proposals through intensive grant-writing skills training; to build research-related individual and institutional capacity through training on mentorship of student researchers; and to sustain workshop momentum by embedding multiple levels of mentored proposal development support during and after each workshop. We hypothesize that this targeted training will enhance the research environment at MSI’s, increase the diversity of NIH-funded investigators and improve the training of underrepresented students in biomedical research, thus providing a feed-forward mechanism to expand the diversity of the US biomedical workforce in future years. A hallmark of IMERS is to engage participants in hands-on, active-learning style grant-writing training for faculty who are poised to submit NIH proposals ranging from development/exploratory to R01s. This training is provided by UK faculty and experienced research development professionals. The IMERS model incorporates guided writing, participatory training, and active learning. Training is comprised of several modalities. First, IMERS offers two 3-day grant-writing retreats/year on the UK campus. These workshops are designed for highly motivated investigators who have submitted proposals to NIH without success and those who have been actively planning NIH submission; ~25 faculty are selected for each workshop via an on-line application. On-site workshops include consultation with actively funded UK investigators and staff from the UK Proposal Development Office; we strive to maintain post-workshop interactions between participants and UK faculty/staff. Three 2-day off-site workshops/year are also offered. The IMERS staff will work with off-site institutions to tailor the workshops to specific needs. In-person workshops have been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will resume when safe to do so. However, we have developed an active series of virtual workshops and seminars during this time, and we anticipate that these and additional on-line activities will continue as a third arm of training even after restriction are lifted. Travel and lodging expenses for faculty to attend UK workshops, for the IMERS team to travel, are covered by the grant. Workshop sessions cover numerous topics, including: using NIH resources for program/funding information, budget issues, the proposal review process, writing a high-impact specific aims page and an effective research strategy, rigor and reproducibility, responsible conduct of research, NIH Biosketch, navigating the NIH resubmission process, and mentoring student researchers. Program evaluation, based in part on participant survey data, communication email and an active ListServ and subsequent submission rate and success, validates that program participants have increased confidence in their grant-writing abilities and are succeeding in obtaining NIH funding.