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NIH K and New Investigator R01 Proposal Preparation Program

The NIH K and New Investigator R01 Proposal Preparation Program is designed to assist Virginia Tech junior faculty, fellows, and post-docs in the preparation of Career Development (NIH K) award applications and early career investigators in preparation for their first R01 grant. The goal is for participants to enter the program with a research idea in mind and use program resources to prepare their formal proposal for submission by the end of the year.

Program structure: The program will start early in Spring Semester and will conclude in May prior to the NIH June submission deadline.  The programs consist of three (R01) or four (K Award) workshops: (1) one Specific Aims Workshop, (2) one Significance/Innovation Workshop, (3) one Effective Communication Workshop, and (4, K awards only) one Career Development Plan Workshop. All workshops will be led by experienced instructors. A major component of the program will include cohort peer reviews and an internal review by Virginia Tech faculty that have successfully submitted similar NIH grants.                                                                                                                                  

To review eligibility requirements for each NIH program see below:

To register for the face-to-face session please:

  1. Go to
  2. View by category - select Office of the Vice President
  3. Select OVPRI: Information Session on NIH K and New Investigator R01 Proposal Preparation Program,
  4. Then select the date available

Individuals not able to attend the information session can contact Dr. Allen directly.

Admission to the program will be based upon a review of nominations received from department heads, chairs, school directors, and University-level Institute directors.  For K grant nominees a letter from their current mentor is required.  The nomination will consist of a cover letter from the head/chair or director, and the nominee’s K/R01 specific aims that have been scientifically vetted with the nominee’s mentor and/or the department chair.

Within the cover letter the nominator should specifically address the following items:

  1.  Identify if the participant plans to apply for the K or R01 award.
  2.  Provide the completion date of the participant’s terminal  degree
  3.  Include a letter of recommendation from the K grant participant’s mentor or the  direct supervisor of the R01 nominee.
  4.  Include the nominee’s K/R01 specific aims that have been scientifically vetted with the nominee’s mentor and/or the department chair.

Nominations to the NIH K and New Investigator R01 Proposal Preparation Program are to be submitted by department head, chair, school director, or University-level Institute directors or a designee to the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.  

OVPRI will compile the nominations from your college and then forward them to Dr. Allen for review.  We expect to have decisions on admission to the program by mid-January so that the program can be up and running early in Spring Semester.  All nominations should be submitted using the online process below.

NIH deadlines

Below is a tentative schedule.

Date  Topic
January 6 Program Announcements and Request for Specific Aims

January 31

Request for Participation and Specific Aims Submission Deadline (submit  Cover letter and Specific Aims following NIH guidelines directly to
February 5 Welcome and Orientation
February 12 Specific Aims I
February 19 Specific Aims II
February 26 Collaborations/Multiple PI Documents and Plans/Letters of Support
March 4 Research Proposal I
March 7 -15 Spring Break
March 18 Significance and Innovation
March 25 Narrative/Summary/Biosketch
April 1 Budgeting/Justification/Effective Communication
April 8 K grant Specific Workshop
April 15 Regulatory Affairs/Ethics/Internal Submission Requirements
April 22 Research Proposal II
April 24 Grant Submission Deadline for Peer Review
May 20 Reviewer Comments/Response to Reviewer Comments
June/October NIH Grant Deadlines for R series applications

Additional program requirements that will be scheduled after the program begins:

  • Peer mentoring sessions:  biweekly, date selected based on availability of group

  • Career Development 1:1 meetings:  K Club only, date selected based on mentor and participant availability

This workshop will assist Participants in reviewing their existing specific aims for clarity and conciseness. The specific aims should concisely describe the goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcome(s), including the impact that the results of the proposed research will exert on the research field(s) involved. This includes the specific objectives of the research proposed (e.g., to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology). 

One of your most critical tasks in writing your application is making sure all your reviewers—not just your assigned reviewers—grasp the importance of your project.

During this workshop you will learn how to beam a spotlight on the significance of your research to your field and note its importance to a public health problem.

That means convincing your reviewers how the niche you've selected for this project (as well as your future plans) can push forward the frontier of knowledge in your field.

Then convince your assigned reviewers of the importance of your research in the Significance section of the Research Strategy by explicitly stating:

  • How your research will advance your field.
  • How it will fill knowledge gaps or address opportunities or roadblocks in the field, and how it relates to research underway.
  • How the work is new and unique.
  • How it meets the NIH mission to improve health through science, by leading to cures, treatments, or preventions for human disease.

As you make your case, you'll present the significance of the research in the context of the state of your field and your long-term research plans. How convincing you are will profoundly affect your score.

Science is hard to read and even more difficult to write. By improving the quality of writing we can actually improve the quality of thought and logic. Scientific writing is not only the presentation of information, but rather its actual communication – can the majority of readers convert the author’s statements into an accurate interpretation of the author’s intended meaning. This workshop will explore a number of rhetorical principles that can produce clarity in communication without oversimplifying scientific issues.

A significant portion of the overall impact score is dependent upon the Career Development Plan. In this workshop, participants will learn the key components of a strong plan. Participants can review the NIH criteria and considerations for career plan for each K program at

A major component of the program will include cohort peer reviews throughout the program. Additionally the program will include an internal review by Virginia Tech faculty that have successfully submitted similar NIH grants. Applicants will submit full drafts of their K or R01 applications approximately two months prior to the June NIH deadline date for VT faculty review. The review will be conducted consistent with the NIH peer review process.