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First-Time Grantseekers: Where to Start

Reader question: I was recently appointed to Research Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology at my university. I do not have previous research funding. Which type of grant should I apply for?

Expert Comments: Because your research involves healthcare, you should probably focus on NIH grants. In particular, look to the smaller grants, which will be the R03 or the R21. An R03 is basically $50,000 for two years ($100,000 for the entire award). And the R21 is $275,000 over two years, combined.

In addition to the funding level, the main difference be- tween the two grant mechanisms is as follows:

  • The R03 is for smaller, self-contained research projects
  • The R21 generally serves as a springboard for new, exploratory and developmental science at its early stages to generate preliminary or additional data.

One of these will help you to begin your career in research by providing you the opportunity to generate preliminary data. That data could eventually lead you to the larger R01 grant. The R01 is $250,000 per year with a modular budget, and the grant length is up to five years. But you want to look to the smaller grants first to get the seed funding you’ll need to start your research project.

You can also search for funding opportunities by teaming with someone from your research office or a colleague.

Their expertise can lead you to certain databases to find information about grants that may fit your particular area of interest. For example, Pivot, formerly, Community of Science (www.pivot.cos.com), you can search by your research objectives, as well as your areas of interest using their paid service. The search will then return a list of different funding mechanisms that possibly match your criteria.

In addition to working with a colleague or research office, you can go to the NIH website and follow the funding links. For example, if you want to find information on what R21 Request for Applications are available through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), you’ll find them at www.niaid.nih.gov/grants-contracts/opportunities. You can also refine your search by entering key words for a particular NIAID division.

Expert comments by Amy Deppa, a pre-award research administrator in the Office of Research at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

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