The climate surrounding federal funding for biomedical research has become increasingly competitive, lending considerable importance to the development of grantsmanship skills by higher education faculty as a whole and by faculty from underrepresented groups in particular. The proposed conference series, Interactive Learning Modules for Writing Grant Proposals, offers a highly focused program of grant-writing training that directly addresses issues of diversity in biomedical research through an active participatory training sequence, resource modules, and post-workshop mentored support. The overall objectives are to empower faculty at institutions with a significant enrollment of underrepresented minorities to develop and submit competitive research proposals and to build capacity at minority-serving institutions to support those efforts. The original goal of our trainig partnership with NIGMS was to translate an innovative, proven grant-writing workshop into an interactive hypermedia course on the internet for wide dispersal to eligible faculty and research support staff. That project concept evolved into a highly effective model of direct workshop training on proposal development that was supported by the online course modules. We now propose a new model that engages trainers and participants in direct proposal development activities through guided writing and mentored support. Building on our past experience with faculty, research administrators and students, the competing renewal has the following specific aims: 1) develop and host active-learning style grant-writing retreats for selected faculty poised to submit proposals ranging from developmental and exploratory research awards to R01s; 2) update the internet course modules as a resource to facilitate active post-workshop learning by incorporating new media content developed using the Echo360 active learning technology platform; 3) provide a pipeline to the writing retreat by conducting off-site regional faculty workshops to motivate, mentor and engage prospective faculty in pursuing competitive extramural funding opportunities; and 4) assist faculty workshop participants through invited site visits focused on institution-specific proposal development and submission issues. Through our ongoing scientific and administrative mentoring (via video and/ or teleconferencing and webinars), we will sustain a relationship with our participants well beyond the workshops and internet course. We anticipate that the proposed workshop series will motivate participants and improve the grant-seeking skills and abilities of researchers from institutions that serve significant numbers of underrepresented groups, increase the number of scientists from these groups engaged in biomedical research, and thereby strengthen the overall research environment at participating campuses.
A diverse workforce in biomedical and behavioral research is essential for exploring socially and culturally sensitive health-related issues concerning underrepresented populations. Our proposed program is designed to motivate and improve the competitiveness of researchers/grant writers at minority institutions and thereby have a substantial impact on the well-being of our citizens.