Workshop series on NIH proposals helps investigators craft winning submissions

The second of two pilot programs focusing on preparing successful proposal submissions to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will wrap up in the next few weeks, with plans already in place for the next series of workshops.

The NIH K and New Investigator R01 Proposal Preparation Program, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, is designed to assist Virginia Tech junior faculty, fellows, and post-docs in preparing Career Development (NIH K) award applications, and early career investigators in preparing their first R01 grant.

Participants enter the program with a research idea in mind and use the program’s resources to further develop their idea and prepare their formal proposal for submission to NIH.

Coy Allen, an assistant professor of biomedical science and pathobiology, is the director of the program and leads the series of workshops that are targeted toward the specific requirements NIH has for its proposals. Topics for these sessions include Specific Aims, Significance/Innovation, Effective Communication, and (for K awards) the Career Development Plan.

Two major components of the program are cohort peer reviews and an internal review by Virginia Tech faculty members who have successfully submitted similar NIH grants. These reviews are conducted using the same criteria an NIH reviewer would use when evaluating a proposal’s merit.

John MatsonJohn Matson, an assistant professor of chemistry, recently received a 5-year, $1.5 million NIH R01 award for a project that focuses on developing chemical tools for understanding the biology of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas and elevating the therapeutic potential of H2S, furthering research that may lead to H2S therapies with low toxicity, few side effects, and high efficacy in treating cancer and other diseases.

Matson credits the NIH Proposal Preparation Program with contributing greatly to his success. “The R01 program helped me to turn my research vision into a proposal that met all of the NIH requirements and conveyed my goals for my research program in a compelling manner. We took each component of the proposal separately, and through peer reviews and discussions with outside experts, refined each section multiple times. I credit this extended workshop with increasing my understanding of the NIH funding process and ensuring that my proposal had the best chance for success.”

The next application deadline for the program will be in January 2018, with the program geared toward NIH’s deadline cycles in June and October 2018.

For more information or to express interest in future sessions of this program, please contact Coy Allen at or Vicky Ratcliffe, manager of research education and development for OVPRI, at 540-231-7964 or

Additional information about the program can be found here: