Basics in Grantsmanship and Ethical Conduct of Research

Course ID: 
MIR 510

Course description:  This is an introductory level course for graduate students in the biomedical sciences covering the anatomy of a scientific research grant; techniques and assignments in effective grant writing, the peer-review process for federal grant applications, and issues surround ethical conduct in research.  The course is taught by the Immunology Director of Graduate Studies, members of the Immunology and the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics faculty, Assistant Dean of Education, and the Director of Grants & Foundations Office.  The goals are to provide Immunology predoctoral students with the toolbox of skills necessary for the preparation of competitive fellowship grant applications.

Rationale:  This course will provide necessary grantwriting experience and guidelines for graduate students in the Immunology program to facilitate fulfillment of the research proposal requirement of the qualifying exam in the second year of their program.  Additionally, it will improve the competitiveness of pre-doctoral fellowship submissions and provide training in ethical conduct for preparation of grant applications and peer review.

Course faculty:  Sharon Evans, Ph.D. (Course coordinator), Joseph Skitzki, M.D. (Course co-coordinator), Scott Abrams, Ph.D.,Kristopher Attwood, Ph.D. (Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Department)

Credit Hours: 
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm



Session 1:  Overview

February 12, 2016 2-4 PM

Sharon Evans, Ph.D.

Class Material:  Presentation

Additional Class Material:  

  • Discuss types of grants (R01; K awards; Fellowships)
  • Requirements for qualifying exam (oral/written)
  • Nuts & bolts of  written grant application (overall impact, significance, investigator, innovation, approach, environment)
  • Key practices that boost or sink an application
  • Importance of appropriate citation of the literature; setting the context of the field


Session 2:  Review Process

February 26, 2016 2-4 PM

Scott Abrams, Ph.D. and Joseph Skitzki, M.D.

Class Material:  Presentation, Project Critique Template

Sample Grant #1, Sample Grant #2



  • Discuss review process
  • Goals of enhanced peer review
  • Conflict of interest and ethics of peer review
  • Watch 20-30’ video of study section meeting; how dynamics can change during live review at committee meeting
  • Provide handout on guidelines and instructions for study section review
  • Detailed discussion of evaluation criteria
  • Highlight importance of getting significance, impact up front in review criteria
  • Assign reviews for primary, secondary, and tertiary reviewers of two NIH/NIAID-provided example grants for mock study section

Session 3:  Mock Study Section

March 4, 2016 2-4 PM

Scott Abrams, Ph.D. and Joseph Skitzki, M.D.

Class Material: McCune SS, Petrie SS



  • Review of assigned grants from NIAID/NIH materials (2 grants). 
  • Students will be split into two groups.  At preceding class, each group will be assigned one grant to review in detail and will complete a written evaluation following current 5-point evaluation criteria.  They will be responsible for also reading second grant but not for completing written evaluation for this grant.
  • At class, students from each group will be selected to function as the primary, secondary and tertiary reviewer.  Other students will function as the review committee.
  • After completion of the mock study section for each grant, there will a discussion of the official NIH study section summary statements.

Session 4:  Anatomy of a Specific Aims Page & Essentials for Grant Writing

March 11, 2016 2-4 PM

Sharon Evans, Ph.D.

Class Material:  Presentation, NIH F30-31 Information, Grant Notes


  • Reading materials will be assigned that cover essentials for grant writing and clear scientific writing.
  • Anatomy of specific aims page:  breakdown key elements of specific aims page
  • Discuss template/outline for effective specific aims page and provide examples from funded grants
  • Highlight common mistakes

Session 5 & 6:  Biostatistical Analysis of Research Data

March 18, 2016 2-5 PM and
March 25, 2016 2-5 PM **

Kristopher Attwood, Ph.D.

Class Material: Presentation


These sessions will cover some major concepts of statistical approaches used to evaluate experimental data in immunological research.

Session 7:  Ethical Conduct in Research

April 1, 2016 3-5 PM**

Sharon Evans, Ph.D.

Class Material:  Presentation

Assigned reading: On Being a Scientist: A guide to Responsible Conduct in Research, 
(note that you can purchase this book on line for $12.95 but this is NOT necessary; you can download free copy at this website).


Assignment for class:  read On Being a Scientist:  A guide to responsible conduct in research from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine


  • Why are ethics in scientific research  important
  • Watch and discuss video from National Academy of Sciences, ‘On being a scientist’
  • Guidelines for ethical conduct of research
  • Definition of scientific misconduct – 3 elements
  • Examples of scientific misconduct (Nazi Germany; 1960’s injection of cancer cells; Tuskegee Syphilis study
  • Nuremberg code; Helsinki recommendations
  • Plagiarism
  • Fabrication and falsification of data in grants/publications
  • Watch and discuss Office of Research Integrity video on scientific misconduct in the laboratory
  • Discuss mentor/mentoree responsibilities and relationships; case studies of scientific misconduct
  • Revisit conflict of interest & peer review
  • Issues of collaborative research
  • Management of intellectual property
  • Discuss current case studies of research misconduct (Potti, Duke University 2010; Woo-Suk, Seoul National University 2005)
  • Publication ethics
  • Safekeeping patient data & requirements for maintaining integrity of all data
  • The worst and best in science emerges from scientific misconduct:  discussion of policies for handling scientific misconduct