Tips to Manage S10 Grant Submissions

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Applying for an S10 Shared Instrumentation grant can be challenging. Many first time S10 grant submitters underestimate the time it takes to assemble the required biosketches, other support, summary tables, and instrument organization and management plan. The administrative burden of the S10 granting mechanism is significant. The following tips can help you successfully manage the administrative requirements so you can focus on the science.

Biosketches and Other Support

  • Biosketch: The NIH Biosketch changes often. PIs biosketches need to be checked carefully, some date back to before the following changes were made.
  • Link to NCBI “My Bibliography”: Check out My Bibliography here. To create your own: create an account and add your publications. Then click on “My NCBI” in the upper right hand section to get a sharable link.
  • New Section C: This new section allows you to describe your top transformative contributions to science! You do not have to be listed as an author on the publication to list it in section C, it is up to you to describe your contributions. Listing a key publication that builds on your work is one way of doing so.
  • Section D Research Support: List both selected ongoing and completed research projects for the past three years.
  • Other Support: This separate section should include ongoing and pending.

Equipment: You need to make an excellent argument for why you have chosen THIS manufacturer and this model.

  • Gather data that functionally shows why the new method is better than the old. Demo the instrument in your institution (and arrange to have your major users collect actual comparative data on similar instruments), bring samples to another institution, or send them out to a core facility somewhere in the country, the ABRF marketplace is a good place to find available instrumentation. You want to tie the results of the data to the methodology; what more can you know about the science using this model? Just because you can “see” something better does not necessarily mean that is a great argument (think justifying confocal vs. super resolution microscopy, yes its cool that you can resolve past the diffraction limit, but does that significantly impact the actual findings?).

Instrumentation plan:

  • If your major users have simply given you the specific aims from their grants you need to re-write. Remember, their grant has already been funded!! You are not justifying the reasons why that research needs to be performed, you are justifying why these data have to be collected this way to leverage the investment the NIH has already made in those R01s. Send your PIs a checklist of the instrument’s unique features to make it easy for them to incorporate.
  • I add a brief bulleted checklist after each user paragraph that explains which features of the requested instrumentation are transformative for that project and a summary paragraph, in italics and bolded.

Letters of NON support:

  • Obtain letters of “non support” if similar instrumentation exists in your city; why can’t you use that instrument? Check this list to find NIH funded S10 instruments near you. These can be just as important as letters of support.

Required Tables

  • Financial: Year 1 operation costs, year 2–5 operation costs, include a line items for staff salaries, service contracts, supplies, and associated chargeback revenue
  • Comparison with similar systems: Include all the key features
  • Accessory features: You must detail the need and the specific users. Don’t try to tack on accessories if you can’t justify their use.
  • Users: Grant number, title, date, field of study, and Accessible User Time (AUT) % or hours.

Finally, as always, try not to annoy the reviewers with shoddy formatting! All of the fonts need to be the same. Often you will receive documents from many PIs and cut and paste formatting errors can be easy to miss. Use the tab key to indicate a new paragraph, put a space in between paragraphs to make your proposal easy to read. Use subheadings when needed.

Key Webinar Take-Aways

-Avoid errors to your Biosketch, continual NIH requirement changes are usually to blame

-Use MyBibliography effectively to boost reviewer confidence in your abilities

-Proven writing strategies to help you complete S10’s new Section C

-Submit a winning equipment comparison table that gets you funded

-Get reviewer buy-in with a bulletproof equipment manufacturer and model argument

-Make believers out of reviewers by more effectively tying your data results to your methodology

-Write concrete Specific Aims, don’t make the mistake of repeating them from your major users

-Compose your Aims more easily with an easy-to-use instrument’s unique features checklist

-Apply this proven summary writing style to make it easier for reviewers to see which of your instrumentation’s features are transformative

-Use letters of “non-support” to get your grant approved

-Avoid common mistakes when producing your Accessory Features table

-Don’t let Financial table line errors block your grant approval

-Don’t let your application formatting annoy reviewers and lose your funding

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