Follow-up: More on AREA grants (R15)

Jan 29 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

The first post on AREA (R15 grants) is here. I just received more info from the SRO of the study section on which I sit. It strongly reiterates what I said before, including the three main goals:

Please note that the Goals of this Award are

  • To support meritorious research
  • To strengthen the research environment of the institution
  • To expose undergraduate and/or graduate students to research

Two things worth noting:

 Preliminary data are NOT required in this PA.

This seems consistent with the goals of this mechanism. Lots of people at smaller places will not necessarily have the wherewithal to generate preliminary data.

There is also a new webpage devoted to R15 review guidance:

If you are intending to submit an R15, is well worth looking at this page to understand how the criteria for this mechanism differs from other R-awards. There are explicit questions about student involvement that are not part of other non-training mechanisms. These include, but are not the only questions for each portion of the review (and again, my emphasis):

1. Significance
If funded, will the AREA award have a substantial effect on the school/academic component in terms of strengthening the research environment and exposing students to research?

2. Investigator(s).
Do the PD(s)/PI(s) have suitable experience in supervising students in research?

4. Approach.
Does the application provide sufficient evidence that the project can stimulate the interests of students so that they consider a career in the biomedical or behavioral sciences?

5. Environment.
Does the application demonstrate the likely availability of well-qualified students to participate in the research project? Does the application provide sufficient evidence that students have in the past or are likely to pursue careers in the biomedical or behavioral sciences?


2 responses so far

  • Microscientist says:

    As someone who does apply for R15s, I would appreciate your input. How much space in the research plan should be dedicated to the student involvement end of things? I have heard of everything from an entire stand alone aim, to as little as half a page tacked on at the end.
    I realize that some of the elements for this will be covered in other accessory documents such as the Biosketch and the Facilities statement. But it has never been clear to me, and I've never gotten a clear answer out of my POs, as to how to balance the science with these other requirements in terms of writing and structuring the grant. NSF, with their requirements for statements of impact etc, make it clear how they value the outreach aspect of these types of grants. But with NIH, it harder to tell.

    • potnia theron says:

      I can't answer *for sure*, because we, as reviewers are not given that level of detail (I asked and was told to use my judgment). So, you PO is just doing what they and all the SRO's do. I don't think a stand-alone aim is necessary. But I would make sure to weave it through the proposal - something in Significance, for sure. When you are describing methods, or approaches, I'd include something that indicates that this is something the students will do. A para at the end summarizing student involvement would probably be good. Also make sure you indicate how you have worked with students in the past, and whether any of them have gone onto careers in biomed research. Even if it was supervising when you were a postdoc, your experience & commitment is important.

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