Lunch & Learn: Electronic Grantsmanship with Michelle Christy and Joe Broderick

On Wednesday, November 8, Michelle Christy, Director, ORPA and Joe Broderick, ORPA’s Associate Director, led a Lunch ‘n Learn seminar on “How to find funding for your research using on-line tools and resources.”
To identify potential sponsor, they recommended a variety of strategies. Colleagues will usually have a good idea of the range of grant opportunities. You can check the online CVs of the leaders in your field. The acknowledgments in journals will often contain useful information about the granting agencies associated with the research. Online database searches will often provide productive matches between your interests and available grants. And you can set alerts that will automatically inform you via e-mail or special web pages that new opportunities are available.

Many grant opportunities can be found quickly using one of three online databases. For general searches in all disciplines, Christy and Broderick recommend the use of Community of Science (select COS Funding Opportunities). For federal opportunities, they suggest that you use (select Grant Search from the Quick Links menu on the right). Young investigators in the biomedical sciences should use, (select the link for Funding), or go to

As soon as you develop a bit of familiarity with these three online databases, you can sign up for “alert services” that register your research interests. As a result, you will receive notices via e-mail of grant programs that match your profile. The National Science Foundation will also permit you to create a customizable webpage that will list all relevant notices to suit your needs. A simple registration is required. Go to

By subscribing to the National Institutes of Health listserv, you will receive the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts via email each week. To subscribe, send an e-mail to with the following text in the message body (not the “Subject” line): subscribe NIHTOC-L  your name (Example: subscribe NIHTOC-L  Joe Smith).


Christy and Broderick added that almost all sponsors have websites that contain valuable information. You can usually find contact information for program officers, program descriptions and funding priorities, detailed guidelines for submission, funding histories, as well as funding levels to make sure that your proposal and needs are a good match for their programs.

Once you have found one or more possible sponsors for your research, you will need to convince them to fund your project. Christy and Broderick emphasized that a good research proposal addresses a need or a gap in knowledge, demonstrates a familiarity with current research, has a clear methodology, shows alternative approaches/contingency plans, and avoids jargon and technical language.

They recommend that you write the budget first to help hone in on what resources you need. The budget will identify who will work on the project, needed equipment and materials, as well as funding for travel and collaborators. To make sure that they are clear, well-organized, and comprehensive, abstracts should be written last. Some reviewers, they emphasize will only look at the abstract, so make sure that it fully captures your project.

Some online grantwriting resources on-line include:

·        Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

·        Foundation Center’s Short Course

·        Wendy Sanders on “The Business of Science,” a guide to NIH funding

·        National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease “All About Grants”

The presentation and a podcast of the talk are available.

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