August 11, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

My R01 is due in a few hours, what’s on my mind besides ice cream?

chocolate ice creamIn a few hours I’m going to submit my current R01 proposal to my institutional grants office, which will then submit it to NIH as is required by NIH.

I’m tired. My brain is tired. I have a cold. I’ve read the grant a hundred times at least. I’ve had colleagues read it. I’ve taken their feedback seriously. My neurons are in grant overload…..but despite all that I’m still excited about this grant. That must mean something, right?

What’s going through my head?

Six years ago I started my position in academia having my own lab here at UC Davis School of Medicine. I was fortunate at that point to have a K01 award from NCI called at that time the “Howard Temin Award”.

I was stoked, energized, and I thought, realistic. Before I even moved from Seattle to Davis, I started writing my first R01.

It was of course rejected not once, not twice, but three times. This was back when you could do two resubmissions.

I was upset to put it mildly. I was a cranky, naive newbie.

Since that time I’ve learned a boatload about grant writing.

In addition, I am surprised to realize I have submitted so many R01 applications in just 6 years that I have literally lost track of the number. I know it is less than 10 but maybe not much.

One got funded.

Of course, one is not enough these days, right? Especially as it got a 25% budget cut, although I felt fortunate it was funded for 5 full years.

So I am working on this new R01.

Writing an R01 grant proposal is a big deal. It’s not just the work, but also it’s an emotional investment and a risk of getting rejected. Perhaps it’s not so much a risk these days as a strong probability.

So as I’m taking a short break from writing this particular R01 (a new one), what is going through my mind?

  • What am I missing, if anything (haha) in the way of weaknesses of this grant?
  • What am I forgetting?
  • Does it have a chance?
  • Will I find a stupid grammar or more serious mistake next week? (Am I the only one who reads their grants after submitting them too? Seems kind of masochistic)
  • Is the grant too risky or too boring? God, how does one find the fine line between those?
  • Which study section will it go to? Will they do a good, fair job reviewing it?
  • Could by some miracle this thing get funded?
  • Chocolate ice cream sounds good about now.
Well, back to work. I’m sure scientists all across America right now are busy working on R01s for this deadline…good luck to us all.