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Researcher Development

Researcher development is a key part of the Research Concierge Service and the College of Medicine as a whole.

Opportunities exist for participation in career development programs; use of a variety of research software applications; assistance with the administrative aspects of research; and extensive expertise across the College in study design, data analysis and biostatistical support.

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Institutional Researcher Development Resources

Career Development Expand answer

The College of Medicine has made a significant investment in the future success of its faculty. A variety of career development programs can help junior faculty strengthen their grant-writing skills and expand their mentor networks and mentorship skills.

See all professional development programs at Penn State College of Medicine here, or explore programs of particular interest below.

K Grants Workshop Series

For early career faculty who need a period of mentored research and training in order to transition to research independence, the College of Medicine offers the K Grant Workshop Series.

Mentored career development awards, or K awards, provide salary support and research funding to early stage investigators who need to undertake a sustained period (three to five years) of intensive, supervised career development experiences in order to transition to research independence.

The four-week K Grant Workshop Series is offered each spring and provides participants the tools needed to craft a competitive mentored career development proposal.

Explore K Grant Workshop Series

Proposal Library

Research Development manages a Proposal Library that serves as a resource for College of Medicine researchers seeking guidance on how to structure a well-crafted proposal. The library contains a variety of successful grant proposals, including fellowship applications, career development applications and investigator-initiated (e.g., R01-equivalent) grant applications.

The library also includes a variety of other grant-writing resources, such as how-to guides for preparing an NIH biosketch, templates for writing specific aims pages, and sample language for addressing Rigor and Reproducibility standards. This resource is available on Box; investigators can request access by sending a request to the Research Concierge Service.

The library would not be possible without the generosity of faculty members who contributed their proposals. Research Development monitors library utilization. Users are advised to help promote academic integrity by treating the proposals in the library as confidential and proprietary.

Request Proposal Library access by contacting the Research Concierge Service

Contribute a standout proposal to the Library

Grants Academy

The annual Grants Academy program is for postdocs and faculty who plan to submit a grant application.

Grants Academy is a structured, non-credit workshop intended to assist participants with preparation and submission of an independent investigator-initiated grant application.

Applications include submissions to the NIH (such as R01, R21, K01, K08, K23), the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association (among others).

Participants will be asked to commit to submit a grant application, with support of their chair, in the summer/fall of each year. Participants meet monthly from October through April and are expected to commit approximately 10 percent of their time.

Explore Grants Academy

Junior Faculty Development Program

The Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) provides a foundation for the success of junior faculty at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The program runs from September to May each year and consists of two components:

  • A comprehensive curriculum delivered through a series of weekly lessons
  • An individual project completed under the guidance of a senior faculty mentor (assigned by the JFDP leadership)

Explore JFDP

Medical Student Research Projects

All MD students at Penn State College of Medicine must complete an approved Medical Student Research (MSR) project. Most MSR projects are undertaken during the summer after the student’s first year of medical school.

MSR projects can be in basic, medical, translational, clinical, social, and behavior research, and may use qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. It is the student’s responsibility to select an MSR project and to prepare a proposal for consideration by the MSR Committee. In addition, all MSR projects must have a designated research advisor – a person who has expertise in the student’s chosen area of research and who provides day-to-day supervision of his/her research project.

Fellows, residents, and other staff can serve as mentors if they have the expertise to support a potential project.

Suggest a potential MSR project for which you could serve as mentor

Grantsmanship Workshops Expand answer

Through the year, the Research Concierge Service coordinates grantsmanship workshops. These workshops offer attendees a better understanding of the grantsmanship process and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

Several workshop recordings and slide decks, including those listed below, are available through the Research Concierge Service. Request access by contacting the Research Concierge.

K Grants Workshop Series

This annual workshop series teaches effective grant preparation strategies for competitive mentored career development proposals. The most rigorous of career development grants – the NIH “K” award – serves as a model throughout the workshop series, which consists of four two-hour sessions:

  • Session 1: Overview of the Mentored Career Development Award
  • Session 2: Writing Effective “K” Applications – The Science
  • Session 3: Preparing a Competitive Career Development Plan/Logistics of K Grant Assembly
  • Session 4: Panel Discussions: K Awardees and K Reviewers

The series takes place each spring and is coordinated by the Research Concierge Service.

Learn more about the K Grants Workshop Series.

Finding Success as an Indepedent Investigator

What does it mean to achieve success? For many scientists, a critical career stage is the transition from their role as a mentored researcher to being an independently funded scientist responsible for managing and sustaining their own research program. This workshop hosted by Hanover Research at the College of Medicine featured a diverse panel of early-career investigators who spoke to the challenges and opportunities they have experienced as they continue to navigate research career transitions, from mentored K to R and beyond.

(Workshop date: Sept. 12, 2019)

Competitive Grant-Seeking for Early-Career Investigators

This workshop aimed to introduce early career basic, translational and clinical researchers to the various funding pathways that can support their career development. Participants learned how to take a strategic approach toward research funding and build a foundation toward an independent research career. The workshop features presentations from several groups that support investigators seeking external grant funding at the College of Medicine.

(Workshop date: March 7, 2019)

Communicating with the DOD: Pre-Proposals and Abstracts

Hosted by McAllister & Quinn, this webinar gave special emphasis to the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program, the program with the highest annual funding level under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. CDMRP is a congressionally appropriated program within the Department of Defense that explicitly supports biomedical research. Any investigator who wishes to submit a proposal under the PRMRP or another of the CDMRP’s myriad programs must submit either a pre-proposal or letter of intent. This webinar focused on best practices for developing pre-proposals and abstracts to catch the attention of the programmatic reviewers.

(Workshop Date: Feb. 12, 2019)

American Heart Association

Research Development, in partnership with Corporate and Foundation Relations, presented a Research Grants Webinar with the American Heart Association.

In this webinar, Kiran Musunuru, MD, PhD, MPH, FAHA, associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Genetics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Glenn Dillon, PhD, Director of Research Operations, American Heart Association; and Elizabeth Cooper, AS, BS, MAOM, Manager of Research Administration, Office of Science Operations, American Heart Association, discussed AHA grant opportunities and grantsmanship tips.

Participants were able to:

  • Get an overview of American Heart Association-funded grants
  • Understand how grants are evaluated
  • Learn about resources available
  • Hear insider tips for a successful application process
  • Understand success rates in future funding
  • Get important tips for manuscript review

(Workshop date: Jan. 29, 2019)

Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research

This workshop provided an introduction to the key skills and knowledge every investigator needs to develop a sustainable clinical research program. The workshop was designed for those considering the clinical research field and for those seeking a refresher. Topics covered during the two-hour workshop included:

  • An introduction to the different stages of a clinical research project
  • Choosing a research question and implications for study design
  • Identifying collaborators and mentors
  • Best practices for grant proposal development
  • NIH policies governing clinical research

(Workshop date: Jan. 22, 2019)

Introduction to Department of Defense Biomedical Research

Hosted by McAllister & Quinn, this webinar described the U.S. Department of Defense’s interest and roles in biomedical research, the major categories of research, annual spending on both internal and external programs, how to tailor research to the interests of the Department, and ways to communicate and collaborate with elements of the Department. This webinar was recommended for investigators at all career stages whose work is broadly applicable to the warfighter and their family.

(Workshop Date: Jan. 15, 2019)

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society visited the College of Medicine in Fall 2018 for an extramural research and training grants workshop. The featured presenter was Susanna Greer, PhD, Director, Clinical Research and Immunology. Dr. Greer discussed ACS grant opportunities and grantsmanship tips.

The American Cancer Society awards research grants and fellowships to promising scientists early in their careers who have unique hypotheses for cancer prevention and study, fostering the next generation of cancer research and creating a strong foundation of preliminary evidence to make scientific advancements. The society also sponsors grants that support training for health professionals seeking to develop their clinical expertise and/or their ability to conduct independent research.

(Workshop date: Nov. 14, 2018)

NIH’s Rigor and Reproducibility Policy: Best Practices for Proposal Development

The workshop kicked off with a presentation by Hanover Research, followed by a facilitated panel discussion. The panel comprised faculty members who have served on NIH study sections. The goal was to explore the NIH’s guidelines on Rigor and Reproducibility and to discuss how investigators can most effectively demonstrate – within their NIH proposals – that their experimental design and methods will achieve robust and unbiased results.

(Workshop date: Feb. 19, 2018)

Preparing Competitive Foundation Grants

Foundations can be an important funding source for early-career scientists seeking to define their research program as they transition from a mentored position to a faculty appointment. Foundations can also be a strategic funding source for more established investigators who are pursuing work in an underfunded area of science.

Participants in this workshop learned:

  • What motivates a foundation’s grant-making activities
  • Key ingredients of competitive proposals
  • Best practices for leveraging University Development resources

(Workshop date: Jan. 18, 2018)

Research Administration Support Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine provides the tools and resources investigators need to navigate their way through the stages of research.

Our research administration and support teams are designed to help you succeed in your research efforts as you strive to:

  • Find funding sources
  • Prepare proposals
  • Negotiate agreements
  • Issue subagreements
  • Ensure compliance
  • Succeed commercially
  • Manage post-award

Explore Research Administration and Support Resources

Research Expertise Expand answer

Numerous resources are available both in Hershey and at University Park for investigators seeking “in-house” expertise with study design, generation of preliminary data, data analysis and biostatistical support.

Individual researchers and their areas of expertise can also be found via Pure, Penn State’s research portal.

Software Applications Expand answer

A variety of research software is licensed by Penn State University and is available to assist investigators with data collection and analysis.

The table seen here presents the most widely utilized software applications – all of which are free to authorized users.

Keep in mind that it is illegal to distribute or copy software in a manner other than as prescribed in the license agreement. The majority of licenses held by Penn State University are academic licenses that restrict use to non-commercial research purposes.

Some license agreements stipulate the number of concurrent users.

Keep in mind that if software will be used for publication purposes, proper acknowledgement should be included in submitted manuscripts.

For a complete listing of commercial software packages available for purchase, visit the Penn State Software Store.

Collaboration Resources

Identify Collaborators Expand answer

You would like to move your research in new directions and you know it will require identifying new collaborators. Colleagues and mentors are supportive, but the expertise you are seeking falls in unfamiliar territory. You have already tapped into established research networks and still have not found the right fit.

To find the right collaborative research partner, you know you need to branch out. But where do you start? Penn State College of Medicine has access to several tools that can help you identify collaborators within the Penn State system and beyond.

Penn State Research Portal (Pure)

Pure is the name of an application by the company Elsevier that stores and allows retrieval of information on investigators, research units and research output (such as publications). The Penn State Research Portal is Penn State University’s implementation of the Pure tool. Pure aggregates research information from internal and external sources into a single platform and enhances the visibility and discoverability of research at Penn State, both internally and externally.

Learn more about Pure

Funding Institutional

Funding Institutional is an Elsevier product that enables the identification of funding opportunities across multiple disciplines and subject areas. Funding Institutional’s database contains information on funding opportunities, current awards, and funders.

Investigators and research support specialists can query funding opportunities by keyword or topic and filter by a variety of features including funder, amount, or application deadline. Specific searches can be saved and alerts can be set up to automatically notify users of new opportunities. Data on past and current awards are also available in the system, enabling users to learn which funders are funding what types of research, where current research is being performed, and to identify possible collaborators and mentors.

If you already have a SciVal account, you can access Funding Institutional using your SciVal username and password. To create a new account, visit Funding Institutional and click “Register Now” on the home page. When you register an account, the email address you supply becomes your username

Explore Funding Institutional


The NIH’s Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORTER) is a publicly accessible website that provides a central point of access for reports, data, and analyses of federally-funded research from the NIH and several other federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The RePORT tool includes both active and expired award data from 1991 to the present. In RePORT, users can conduct simple keyword searches or narrow a search by defining various inputs, including institution, department, investigator, funding mechanism and award size.


Make Connections Expand answer

Penn State is a research-intensive institution that has the infrastructure to support cross-campus research collaborations. Here are some ways Penn State researchers can work together.

Affiliate with a Cross-Campus Institute

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

Penn State CTSI is a collaborative effort of Penn State, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

Learn more about CTSI

Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)

The mission of Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) is to foster novel, interdisciplinary research that addresses critical human and social problems at the local, national, and international levels. SSRI sends out weekly email announcements that include information about upcoming events and funding opportunities, as well as institute announcements and news. To join that email list, email a request to

Learn more about SSRI

The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences (“The Huck”) encompass a highly successful group of interdisciplinary institutes comprising faculty from colleges and departments across the University system. The four institutes that comprise The Huck are: Genome Sciences Institute, Infectious Disease Institute, Institute of the Neurosciences and Ecology Institute. To join their email list, email a request to L-HUCK-BIG-UP@LISTS.PSU.EDU.

Learn more about The Huck

Request a Toolbox Workshop

Research collaborations thrive when team members establish ground rules for navigating conflict. The Toolbox Project helps teams to identify potential sources of conflict by walking through a series of 34 statements that probe participant views on the practice of science.

Serving as dialogue prompts, these statements structure a conversation among participants that reveals fundamental research assumptions and generates mutual understanding at a deep level.

Research Development is available to facilitate these two- to three-hour workshops with PIs and their teams. Workshops will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and should include a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 participants.

The Toolbox Project promotes communication within teams and are particularly valuable in the context of researchers from multiple disciplines, professions or sectors.

Contact the Research Concierge to schedule a session

Attend a Networking Event

Millennium Café – University Park

Sponsored by Materials Research Institute (MRI), Millennium Café is described as a weekly dialogue catalyzed by coffee, snacks and two diverse research presentations (less than 10 minutes each) involving students, faculty and staff. This is an opportunity to spend time “outside the box” developing new ideas and leveraging the collective expertise of the group to innovate.

This weekly networking event is held at the Millennium Science Complex in University Park.

Learn more about Millennium Café

Innovation Café – Hershey

Sponsored by the Center for Medical Innovation, Innovation Café is a recurring series of regional forums that features high-profile guest speakers discussing industry innovations, business trends and regulations and their impact on the life science industry. Each event features a start-up company introducing regional stakeholders to entrepreneurs, intellectual capital and commercialization opportunities.

Innovation Café is a platform to engage investors, entrepreneurial faculty, talented students and industry professionals committed to building a vibrant start-up community in Central Pennsylvania.

See upcoming Innovation Cafés and other Medical Innovation events

Build Your Brand Expand answer

Learn how to build academic networks. Take control of your image and consider the many ways to heighten your visibility in the research community – at Penn State and beyond.


ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers. This means that it will be less likely that your name will be confused with another researcher with a similar name, ensuring that you get the credit you deserve for your work. Unlike your work email or identification number, ORCiD follows you when you move institutions. You can include your ORCiD identifier on your publications and grants and link it to other services such as LinkedIn and Researcher ID.

Get started with ORCiD

Penn State Research Portal (Pure)

Pure is the name of an application by the company Elsevier that stores and allows retrieval of information on investigators, research units and research output (such as publications). The Penn State Research Portal is Penn State University’s implementation of the Pure tool. Pure aggregates research information from internal and external sources into a single platform and enhances the visibility and discoverability of research at Penn State, both internally and externally. This material is also transferred into other Elsevier products, such as SciVal and Scopus.

Learn more about Pure, including how to request profile edits

The Conversation

In 2016, Penn State’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Research joined with Strategic Communications to enter into a partnership with the website The Conversation, an academic blog written by university researchers for general audiences. The Conversation has a Creative Commons license, so other news organizations can republish its written pieces.

Since partnering with The Conversation, Penn State researchers have written about 140 articles that have garnered 10.6 million readers. Penn State faculty have had articles republished on sites such as The Washington Post and Business Insider.

Penn State’s office of News and Media Relations receives daily requests from editors at The Conversation for expert sources. In turn, staff within News and Media Relations reach out to Penn State faculty members with expertise in the requested subject areas, seeking their written works on various issues of public interest. In addition to responding to requests from editors at The Conversation, the office of News and Media Relations also may submit original ideas and articles from faculty for publication.

If you have a topic that you are interested in speaking on or writing about, or if you would like to reach a new audience with your research findings, 814-865-7517 or contact Penn State’s News and Media Relations staff.

See all Penn State stories on The Conversation

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a simple way to enhance your CV and increase your visibility. The Profiles feature functions as a landing page for your publications, but that functionality only works if your profile is set to “public.” Double-check your profile visibility by loading your profile and, at the top of the main page, confirming that it reads “My profile is public” beneath your affiliation information. If it’s not already public, change your profile to public visibility by clicking the “Edit” button at the top of your profile, selecting “My profile is public,” and then clicking “Save.”

Visit Google Scholar


ResearchGate is a social networking site designed specifically for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. It has many of the features that are typical among social networking sites, such as user profiles, messages that can be public or private, and methods for finding other users with similar interests. Users can follow research interests, as well as individual users.

ResearchGate also has a blog that allows users to write reviews on peer-reviewed articles, post a research question, or share information in private chat rooms.

Visit ResearchGate


LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that currently has more than 20 million members in 200 countries. Consider updating your profile to emphasize specialized skills and career trajectory.

Visit LinkedIn

Learn More Expand answer
  • Ten Simple Rules for a Successful Collaboration – V Quentin and P Bourne (2007). PLOS Computational Biology. March 30, 2007.
  • How To Collaborate – Holgate A, Sharon (2012) How to Collaborate. Science July 20: 10.1126/science.caredit.a1200082.
  • Preempting Discord: Prenuptial Agreements for Scientists – Gadlin, Howard and Kevin Jessar (2011) Preempting Discord: Prenuptial Agreements for Scientists.
  • Life, death and collaboration: How to find research friends – Kho, Tseen (2012) Life, death and collaboration: How to find research friends. April 10, 2012.
  • Networking and other academic hobbies – Kho, Tseen (2011) Networking and other academic hobbies. June 11, 2011.
  • Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide – By L. Michelle Bennett, Howard Gadlin, and Samantha Levine-Finley. August 2010. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • This field guide is a compendium of best practices for building effective research teams. The authors reviewed relevant literature and compared existing models of successful teams to an analysis of five self-assembled teams performing NIH-funded research. Preliminary results from the project were represented in August 2009 at NIH Grand Rounds. The field guide identifies the key ingredients to highly functioning teams and offer strategies for engaging effectively in teaching science.
  • Collaboration and Team Science: From Theory to Practice – Bennett, L. Michelle and Howard Gadlin. “Collaboration and Team Science: From Theory to Practice.” (June 2012). Journal of Investigative Medicine 60(5). 768-775.
    • This manuscript from the 2012 Experimental Biology symposium was published in the Journal of Investigator Medicine in June 2012. The article discusses the continuum of interaction and integration that can exist among research teams and introduces the key ingredients for building effective teams-proactively building trust, creating a shared vision, sharing recognition and credit, and promoting conflict resolution.