Resources

Research Development

Research Development

Sharing the secrets of research funding success

The Research Development team is a resource of the Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics. Our primary focus is to provide research development/proposal development support to faculty within the SCSBMB and the departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Anatomy, and Pharmacology & Toxicology. And it pays to work with us. It pays well.

The most recent stats indicate that UTMB investigators who work with us are awarded ~250% more grant money compared to those who do not work with us.

We provide strategic, proactive, catalytic, and capacity-building services designed to facilitate individual faculty members, teams of researchers and central administrations in attracting extramural research funding, creating relationships, and developing and implementing strategies that increase institutional competitiveness. We provide technical and professional support to faculty in writing research proposals. While faculty are encouraged to work with Research Development staff on any and all proposals, the level of our involvement in the proposal process varies widely based on the needs of the individual faculty and/or proposal and by the lead time provided. At a minimum, Research Development staff attend all faculty Chalk Talks/Research Concepts presentations and provide feedback as appropriate. Our services are meant to supplement, not replace, faculty mentoring. Common levels of service are described in more detail on our Services page.

Let us help you get funded!

The SCSBMB Research Development Team is here to help you get funded. We have extensive expertise and experience in all aspects of grant writing as well as the scientific knowledge base to really help guide you in mapping your research goals and targeting the funding agencies that would serve you best.

Our Team Members:

Karon Cassidy, MD, Senior Manager, Research Operations
Karon has over 15 years of experience in grant writing and proposal development. She received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and obtained her medical doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine in 2006. She then joined the University of Houston in 2007, first co-authoring grants for a small handful of faculty in the Biology & Biochemistry department and then joining the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Research Office to provide grantsmanship guidance to new investigators in six departments and three active research centers. She joined the Sealy Center for Structural Biology & Molecular Biophysics at UTMB in May of 2012. Over her career, she has been instrumental in securing more than $70 million in new funding for faculty. E-mail Karon.

Heather Lander, PhD, Seniior Research Development Specialist
Heather received her PhD in experimental pathologyfrom UTMB. In addition to her own publications and funding, she has over 10 years' experience helping UTMB faculty and students in several departments secure funding and publish manuscripts. An integral part of the team, Heather’s considerable scientific expertise and extensive scientific research and writing experience give her a distinct edge. Since joining SCSBMB Research Development in June 2013, she has made significant contributions to the success of many grants scoring better than the 10th percentile. E-mail Heather.

Following, are the services we offer, and more information can be found at the included links. Please keep in mind that simultaneous work on drafts from multiple PIs is built into our estimated turn-around times. Please Note: We do not provide administrative grant support. Work with your departmental administrative staff to get everything to OSP by the 10-working day deadline.

Do you have your eye on an upcoming submission deadline and would like to work with us to make your proposal as strong as possible? Here are the steps you should take, and an approximate timeline that will provide you with the most helpful and effective services.

To increase your chance of success, think ahead, plan ahead, and act ahead.



(Note:To run the widget, please enable Macros in Excel!)

FAQ: Do my drafts need to be "near final" when I give them to you? NO! In fact, we prefer really rough drafts. We don't even need all the pieces at the same time. If you have one part scribbled on a Post-it note, go ahead and give it to us. If you spend a lot of time polishing before you give us a draft, you are not really allowing us to do our job. Our goal is to free up your valuable time. Get a rough draft down then let us work with it.

FAQ: What if I miss the suggested timeline? Will you still work with me if I don't provide anything until say, 1 or 2 weeks before the deadline? Yes, we can still work with you. We are more than happy to help no matter when you get us your drafts. However, the time we will have available to help you will be dictated by how many grants are already ahead of you on our board. We will do as much as we can, but it is possible if you wait until 2 weeks before the deadline that we will only have time to do basic editing for grammar and formatting. If you wait until 1 week before the deadline, then we will do what we can, but we only will be able to guarantee editing to ensure compliance with the solicitation, rather than grantsmanship.

Chalk Talk/Research Concepts meetings are intended to give faculty the opportunity to informally present their scientific projects to their peers and obtain feedback such as the need for specific preliminary data, or the possibility of collaborations. Participation in these meetings is recommended for all faculty, either as presenters or in the general discussion. All junior faculty, as well as any faculty without current extramural funding, are strongly encouraged to present their project idea and invite their collaborators or other domain experts. In addition, these sessions are attended by Research Development staff who provide feedback regarding targeting of the project to specific funding agencies or study sections. Intended to be very informal and dynamic, these talks are not conducive to the use of Powerpoint, except as strictly necessary to display selected key data.

These meetings are scheduled ad hoc, preferably three or more months prior to the intended proposal submission to allow sufficient time to incorporate feedback, collect additional data, etc. Faculty are simultaneously registered with Research Development Staff for proposal assistance at the time of their presentation. To schedule a Chalk Talk/Research Concepts, faculty should complete a proposal rubric and send it to either Karon or Heather, who will get it scheduled for you.

Q. How can SCSB Research Development actually help me get funded?
A. We can read your proposal, or part of your proposal, and tell you what reviewers are likely to think, where the weaknesses are and how to address them. We won't try to change your science, but we can help you present it in the strongest, most effective way possible. For example:

  • Are your aims effective or ineffective (e.g, dependent)?
  • Do you have enough publications and/or preliminary data?
  • Do you have the necessary collaborations?
  • Is the proposal organized/presented in the most effective way?

We also edit for grammar, English and general writing, and we have the scientific expertise needed to revise the science writing to be significantly clearer and more concise. Our team members are excellent scientific writers with significant grantsmanship expertise and can make a profound difference in the effectiveness of your proposal.

We also know tricks and tips for making your proposal easier on a reviewer's eyes, which always helps when someone has to read dozens of proposals in a day.

Q. What if I miss the suggested timeline? Will you still work with me if I don't provide anything until say, 1 or 2 weeks before the deadline?
A. Yes, we can still work with you. We are more than happy to help no matter when you get us your drafts. However, the time we will have available to help you will be dictated by how many grants are already ahead of you on our board. We will do as much as we can, but it is possible if you wait until 2 weeks before the deadline that we will only have time to do basic editing for grammar and formatting. If you wait until 1 week before the deadline, then we will do what we can, but we only will be able to guarantee editing to ensure compliance with the solicitation, rather than grantsmanship.

Q. Does my draft need to be "near final" when I give it to you? 
A. NO! In fact, we actually like rough drafts.

Q. What if I don't like the changes you made, or you simply don't understand my science? 
A. We do everything with track changes so you can see what we've done and accept/reject the changes as you like. We save all our drafts by date/team member, so your original will never disappear. We work in close contact with you to make your proposal more effective and highly competitive. If we are struggling to understand the science, then a reviewer likely will too. We will meet with you so that you can help us understand your science better and to figure out how best to edit the proposal for improved clarity.

Q. Is my proposed research too ambitious? Not ambitious enough? 
A. The Chalk Talks and Research Concepts meetings are the best place for you to get this kind of feedback. As a general rule of thumb, one Specific Aim for an R01 should be close to what one graduate student can complete in 4 years (or a post-doc in 2).

Q. Can you help with the budget or budget justification: PI effort? Amount allocated for travel, supplies, etc? 
A. Yes!! This is one of the areas in which our significant experience can really benefit you. We can help work with you and your Pre-Award staff to develop a budget and justification that will not only help your proposal get funded but also significantly reduce the risk of getting your budget slashed once it is funded.

Q. Can you help me find funding opportunities suited to my research? 
A. Absolutely! We have experience with many funding agencies besides NIH and can help you find new funding opportunities.

2000x200bottom illustration_SCSB