Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE’s 2020 summer grant writing program assists scholars in preparing applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Participants learn more about NIH grant mechanisms, grant-writing, and grant reviewing, while also writing their own grant, receiving mentored feedback from experienced NIH grant recipients, incorporating and revising their grants, and providing feedback to others in the workshop. The intensive writing workshop includes regular meetings, discussion sessions, and feedback on all aspects of research plans and proposals. The program demystifies the grant-writing process and creates a supportive environment that produces proposals ready for submission to the NIH by the fall of 2020.

How successful have we been?

Among the 6 participants in last summer’s program, 5 submitted NIH proposals. These proposals included several different mechanisms (e.g. K99/R00, R01 and R21). One was funded, one was re-submitted, and the remainder are still pending. In the preceding year, our pilot year, among 7 participants, three submitted NIH grants and two of those were funded.

What is the program structure?

Participants attend 6-8 working-group meetings between mid-June and the end of August. Meetings include sessions devoted to:

  • Introductions to different NIH grant mechanisms
  • The application and funding process
  • Budgeting
  • Peer review systems
  • Workshopping different components of the written application

These sessions will serve as deadlines for completion of drafts of various sections of the NIH Research Plan (significance, innovation, investigator, approach, and environment). All participants are matched with one or more senior mentors who will read and comment on each section of the application. At the end of the summer, participants will participate in a mock NIH study section review to experience the scientific review process and receive advice for final revisions of the application. CSDE staff will participate throughout the process, helping with both the scientific and administrative aspects of the grant development of each project.

What do you get out of it?

Participants will receive mentorship, constructive criticism, camaraderie, structure, scientific consultations about methods and approach and grant-development support. Plus, your chances of grant funding are much stronger!

Will the program happen even if social distancing is still in effect?

Yes, the program will be held by Zoom if needed, and in person, if possible.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • All CSDE affiliates are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to applicants who have not been a successfully funded PI on an NIH grant. Nevertheless, we do welcome applications from mid-career participants with more grant experience. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Steve Goodreau prior to applying (
  • Applications from collaborative teams, anticipating a multiple PI arrangement, are also encouraged. Only two members per team are allowed to participate in the program. Teams should contact Steve Goodreau prior to applying (
  • UW students and post-docs are eligible to apply only if they plan a training grant centered at UW. Potential applicants in this category should contact Steve Goodreau ( before applying to discuss their case.

What is expected of participants?

  • Applicants must prepare a one-page Specific Aims statement, included in their application material. Guidance on writing Specific Aims is available here.
  • Participants must attend each meeting, produce written products by the time of each meeting, and actively participate in discussions about proposal development.
  • Participants must share drafts of different sections of their proposal at or before designated deadlines.
  • Participants must be willing to receive and incorporate feedback from seasoned grant writers and senior mentors.
  • Participants must be committed to working on their proposal development between meetings throughout the summer. CSDE staff and senior mentors will be available and on-call for commenting throughout the summer.
  • Participants are expected to submit their application to NIH in fall 2020.
  • Participants are strongly encouraged to submit their final proposals to NIH through CSDE. Participants who are required to run their grants elsewhere are eligible to apply, but please inform us in your application.

What kind of matching support is required?

We are requesting that each applicant includes a letter of support from their chair, supervisor, or other unit head indicating that they support the applicant’s participation in the program. This is to ensure that the applicant and their chair/supervisor share an understanding that the applicant’s position enables them to submit a grant of this type in the near future.

We also encourage applicants to obtain a promise of matching support from their chair/supervisor. This might include some summer salary, research funding, or undergraduate or graduate student RA time. This support will go directly from the unit to the participant, without CSDE’s involvement. CSDE contributes roughly $5,000 per participant to run the program and units may consider this as an approximate guide in developing their match. The presence of this match may be considered in our review, although we encourage everyone considering an application to move forward with or without one, especially given the uncertain financial situation created by COVID-19.

Application process

Submit your application

Complete the application form here. This includes uploading drafts of your Specific Aims page, your NIH biosketch, and a letter from your chair/supervisor/unit head documenting their support for your participation in the summer workshop (with or without financial match). Please see below for guidance in drafting the Specific Aims and the biosketch.

Applications are due by 6 pm PT on May 8, 2020.

Guidance in preparing your application:

Selection criteria

  • Priority is given to CSDE affiliates, especially new faculty or early stage investigators (those seeking their first major external grant).
  • Other criteria include quality of proposed research questions and their significance to population science, the likelihood that the proposed work will lead to a fully drafted application, the feasibility of the proposed work, and the applicant’s ability to conduct the work, and the indication that your chair is supportive of your effort throughout the workshop.

Contact us

We encourage prospective applicants to contact us with questions about eligibility, expectations, or other concerns.  Steve Goodreau is directing this summer’s program and can be reached at: .