Grad Students Give Grant Writing Workshop an ‘A’

At the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, future physician-scientists learn a great deal about medicine — specifically, the research, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. But another critical part of their graduate and postdoctoral training needs to be how to write grant proposals that will secure funding for their groundbreaking research.

To help provide that training, the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) recently hosted a workshop titled “How to Write Winning Grant Proposals.” As the cornerstone of the curriculum offered by Grant Writers’ Seminars & Workshops (GWSW), this particular workshop addresses the important practical and conceptual aspects of writing grant proposals that stand out in today’s hypercompetitive funding environment.

The all-day workshop at the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education was led by GWSW consultant Lauren Broyles, Ph.D., who has a diverse background in competitive extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Veterans Health Administration, and various nonfederal foundation sources. Dr. Broyles has also taught an intensive two-semester proposal-writing course at the University of Pittsburgh for physicians and Ph.D.s from across the health sciences.

More than 70 graduate and postdoctoral students attended the workshop, which focused specifically on NIH funding and revealed the “extra” things that can make the difference between success and failure.

Doing your homework and allowing ample time for your proposal is imperative, according to Dr. Broyles.

“I suggest contacting the relevant NIH program officials six to nine months before the proposal due date to make sure your idea is a good fit with that institute or center’s current priorities and strategic goals,” Dr. Broyles said. “If the answer is ‘Yes,’ then you’re going to need every bit of that time for preparing, writing, and revising your submission and enlisting a couple of trusted colleagues not affiliated with your proposal to give it a thorough and critical review.”

Student feedback on the OGS grant writing workshop was overwhelmingly positive.

“Absolutely phenomenal,” one student said. “Dr. Broyles had clear and helpful examples and spoke so well.”

“This workshop should be mandatory for graduate students and postdocs,” another student said. “As a first-time grant writer, it was incredibly helpful.”

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