Preparing to Write the Big Grant.
So. Now I am preparing to write my big grant. This will be the follow-up to my current pilot grant, which is essentially an R03, though not an NIH mechanism. I’ll be writing the R01-equivalent now, which in the agency I’m applying to is a 4 year, $1.1M dollar mechanism. I don’t think I’ll need all that. I’ll probably write it for three years and about $750K. It’s about developing a tool to examine health care delivery for diabetes patients. I’ve been sitting in my office staring, tweeting, trying to formulate the essential ideas so that I can come up with an aims page to distribute to potential collaborators. There are a couple of people with interesting expertise that I am in the process of approaching, but I am still in the nascent stages.
So, I was awarded my pilot basically, I think, because it was totally novel. No one had done anything like it before, anywhere. And I’m now in the process publishing the results from it, which were promising. It’s a difficult process, especially because the full professor who is supposed to be acting as a mentor to me has totally abdicated his role. I’ve gotten essentially no help from him, and expect to get none as time on the grant expires. Essentially, he’s a name. He’s a big, fancy name, but just a name. Calling him a co-author is kind of a joke. He’s recently told me he doesn’t have time to review the manuscripts, and to just submit them.
I’ve decided to submit to diabetes journals, because the simulation journals don’t seem interested. I am decidedly lacking in effective mentorship with respect to journal selection. My work is very inter-disciplinary, and as a result, many different genres of science are theoretically appropriate. However, it’s therefore quite possible for any journal to tell me that it belongs in another sub-field journal, in a big circle. Which can be frustrating, and demoralizing. I usually get several desk-rejects prior to finding a journal willing to review.
However, I am confident that the work will eventually get published. And when it does, I’ll have excellent preliminary data, results, and publications from which to demonstrate that I’m worthy of the big grant. Frankly, this would be a wonderful type of project for the R21 mechanism (2 years, $275K), but my institution isn’t eligible for NIH funding. Which is too bad, because I’m still Early Stage Investigator qualified, and would be New Investigator qualified, and would therefore be strongly competitive for such an award, I think.
*Edit, per Doc Becca (donate!): R21s do not consider ESI/NI status.
But I am not eligible for NIH funds, and so I have to work within the frame of what the funding agencies I am eligible for provide. I think I can get this award. It’s just a matter of doing some strongly hypothesis driven engineering, which is still slightly foreign to me. Engineers usually design things to specifications, rather than working with hypotheses. However, those things can be seen as opposite sides of the same coin, in practice. I just have to come up with a clean way to formulate the project, with a testable condition that separates success from failure.
I’ve actually written one of these before, as co-PI. My last effort was scored, but not funded, and we made a wholesale revision and resubmitted. That study section meets at the end of the month. If it hits, then all of my job woes are over for four years. But that will not stop me from writing this grant. Because I’d still need more time covered, and this grant is my own Big Idea, that I am dying to develop. This is the reason I’m doing this, and not looking for a job in quality control.
So, unless I move to Singapore, or get offered a sudden tenure track position (that happens, right?), you can expect to hear a lot about writing this grant. Hopefully, I’ll be documenting the trials, tribulations, joys, fears, and eventual triumphs of winning my first solo R01 equivalent. Stay tuned. It’s gonna be ugly.