The NIH Grant Writing Series is designed to prepare early-career faculty (years 2+) at Illinois to submit a strong proposal to the National Institutes of Health. The series consists of seminar and discussion sessions (approximately 90 minutes each) addressing various aspects of the grant submission process.

NIH Grant Writing Series logo

Seminar Series

The seminar series, held every other fall, is led by faculty who have demonstrated a history of success with NIH proposals. These sessions provide information and advice on all aspects of the grant writing process. The seminar series is open to all Illinois investigators.

Session 1: Introduction to the NIH

This session provides an overview of the structure of the NIH and the various funding mechanisms. Participants will learn to effectively communicate with Program Officers and get tips for planning a successful proposal.

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Session 2: NIH Peer Review Process

This session covers the review and scoring criteria for NIH proposals and the intricacies of the NIH peer review process. Participants will learn how to tailor their proposal to fit the NIH criteria.

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Session 3: Specific Aims Development

Participants will learn how to develop the Specific Aims section of their proposal.

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Session 4: Building a Successful Proposal, Part 1

This session provides an overview of other components of a standard research grant including: developing the research strategy, background/significance, methods, biosketches, narrative, and the cover letter.

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Session 5: Building a Successful Proposal, Part 2

This session covers any remaining sections such as compliance, key personnel, subawards, incorporating collaborators and subcontracts, building the budget and budget justification, cost sharing, data dissemination, data sharing, letters of support, and research resources.

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Session 6: Responding to Reviews

Your grant went through peer review, but didn’t get funded. Now what? This session will address how to respond to the reviewers’ comments, interpret critiques, and use feedback from reviewers or mentors to improve your grant proposal.

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Mentorship Program

In addition to the seminar series, selected nominees will participate in a peer review workshop and three meetings with a faculty member who has a history of NIH proposal success. While the seminars are open to campus, only selected faculty may participate in the complete series.

Specific Aims Peer Review Workshop 

This session is loosely modeled after a study section with the participants acting as reviewers. Participants will act as primary or secondary reviewers, preparing written critiques of aims pages prior to the workshop. The critiques will be discussed as a group. Participants will get a taste of what it’s like to be on a review panel in addition to receiving peer feedback that will help them improve their Specific Aims page. 

Mentor Meetings (three monthly meetings are recommended)

Participants are expected to schedule a minimum of three one-on-one meetings with their assigned mentor to receive feedback on their proposal at various stages (i.e., specific aims, research plan, and the first draft of the proposal). 

Selected faculty must demonstrate support from their department. Deans and department heads are invited to nominate early-career faculty for participation in the series with a letter of support. If not nominated by their deans or department heads, faculty may also nominate themselves with a letter of support from their department head, a copy of their CV, and a brief summary of their research interests.  

Please contact Maggie Berg for more information and subscribe to the IHSI newsletter to receive updates about joining future cohorts.



faculty trained through the NIH Grant Writing Series


in NIH funding awarded to participating faculty