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Mock Review of Grants (MoRe) Program

Penn State College of Medicine’s Mock Review of Grants (MoRe) Program offers support in advance of proposal submission.

The four-stage program uses a review process similar to that of an NIH study section, but in which the reviewing team interacts with the applicant to help strengthen the proposal.

The MoRe program is offered in three cycles annually, preceding each NIH grant cycle; investigators preparing non-NIH proposals are welcomed to use the program as well.

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How the MoRe Program is Structured

Stage 1: Preparation Expand answer

16 weeks prior to NIH deadline

The MoRe program will send notification to all departments and institutes that the next cycle of internal grant reviews will occur in four weeks.

14 weeks prior to NIH deadline

The MoRe program will send a reminder email to departments and institutes.

12 weeks prior to NIH deadline

The program will ask PIs to declare their intent to go through the MoRe process.

PIs who wish to participate will be asked to submit the following:

  • One-page NIH specific aims
  • Applicant biosketch
  • Summary statement from previous NIH review (if available)

11 weeks prior to NIH deadline

The MoRe program will identify the content experts who will serve as the primary and secondary reviewers for each application. They will review the assigned application prior to the next stage.

Stage 2: Aims Discussion Expand answer

10 weeks prior to NIH deadline

During a working session, applicants and primary reviewers will work through the review process as follows. Mentors’ participation is mandatory; participation of key co-investigators is desirable.

  • Primary reviewer (5 minutes): Based on the scientific aims and biosketch submitted, primary reviewer will summarize the general objective and scientific premise of the study in a few sentences. They will give their impression of the significance, investigator, innovation and approach in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and share their predicted overall impact score if the project were to evolve well.
  • Secondary/tertiary/written reviewers (10 minutes): Next, other reviewers will provide additional comments and suggestions.
  • Discussion (10 minutes): This open-forum discussion will help to identify potential pitfalls in the research, improve scientific inquiry and refine specific aims and hypotheses. During this time, the PI can clarify any questions from the reviewers, and may use slides to present additional information or key pilot data.
  • Summary (5 minutes): The primary reviewer will will summarize the discussion and recommendation.

Following the review, the investigator may be advised to revise or reconfigure based on concerns regarding scientific premise and/or logical design, low potential impact, interdependent aims, low feasibility or over-ambitious goals.

Applicants can then decide to continue to the next stage or delay submission. Note that the decision to submit or wait is solely that of the principal investigators, hopefully in consultation with mentors. The MoRe process is strictly advisory.

Stage 3: Specific Aim Revision Expand answer

Eight weeks prior to NIH deadline

  • Applicant will send revised scientific aims to MoRe reviewers for further feedback.
  • Applicants can decide to continue to next stage or delay submission based on the feedback received.
  • If going forward, the PI and reviewers will identify the reviewer(s) for the next stage.

Note that the decision to submit or wait is solely that of the principal investigators, hopefully in consultation with mentors. The MoRe process is strictly advisory.

Stage 4: External Review Expand answer

Five weeks before NIH deadline

At this stage, a full draft will be sent to Hanover Research for revision. The only exception to this will be for those MoRe participants who are either already in the Hanover Research queue or have already received a review from Hanover Research for the relevant proposal.

Material for R01 submissions will include:

  • Specific aims
  • Research strategy
  • Biosketches
  • Response to previous reviewers’ comments (for resubmission)

For K submissions, drafts also will include sections on:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research training
  • PI’s career development plan
  • Statements from primary mentor and co-mentors

After receipt of draft materials, participants will have a pre-review call with the Hanover Research grants consultant. The grants consultant will return the revised documents within 10 days; a post-review call will also be scheduled. All interactions with Hanover Research will be completed within the two-week period following the draft submission.

For Details

For details on the Mock Review of Grants (MoRe) Program, contact Dr. Xuemei Huang, Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Development, at