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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Career Development Resources
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.
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.
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.
Proposal Preparation Essentials for the U.S. Department of Defense
Hosted by McAllister & Quinn, this webinar examined key facets of DoD proposals:
• Hypotheses and specific aims
• Military relevance statements
• Statements of work
• Research plan organization
The DoD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) were a significant focus of this workshop. CDMRP is the largest funder of biomedical research within the DoD, encompassing more than 30 research programs.
(Workshop Date: Oct. 22, 2019)
Finding Success as an Independent 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)
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)
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.
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.
Moving research in new directions often requires identifying new collaborators. But what’s the best way to start doing so?
Penn State College of Medicine has access to several tools that can help investigators branch out and identify mentors and potential partners within the Penn State system and beyond.
Penn State Research Portal (Pure)
Pure, an Elsevier product, is a searchable database that captures the scholarship of more than 5,400 researchers at Penn State.
Pure provides detailed information on scholarly output, publications, networks, citation data from journals and social media citations. It not only enhances the visibility of faculty research, but also gives investigators the ability to connect with potential collaborators and mentors across more than 250 other institutions that utilize Pure.
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.
Those who have a SciVal account can access Funding Institutional using their SciVal username and password. To create a new account, visit Funding Institutional and click “Register Now” on the home page. When registering, the email address supplied becomes the username.
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.
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.
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 L-SSRIemail@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are ways investigators can take control of their image and consider the many ways to heighten their visibility in the research community – at Penn State and beyond.
ORCID provides a persistent, unique digital identifier distinguishing one researcher from another. This makes it less likely that one investigator’s name will be confused with another researcher with a similar name, ensuring that everyone gets the credit deserved for their work.
Unlike a work email address or identification number, ORCiD follows the investigator from institution to institution. Researchers can include their ORCiD on publications and grants and link it to other services, such as LinkedIn and Pure.
Penn State Research Portal (Pure)
Pure, an Elsevier product, is a searchable database that captures the scholarship of more than 5,400 researchers at Penn State. Pure aggregates research information from internal and external sources and enhances the visibility and discoverability of research at Penn State, both internally and externally.
Penn State College of Medicine faculty with a professorial rank at any level have a Pure profile created automatically in the month to two months following their hire. Publications and citations from Scopus begin to filter to the Pure profile automatically after the new profile goes through Elsevier’s refinement process, which happens approximately once per quarter.
The Pure profile is one of the highest-ranked Google search results for an investigator’s name. Because of this, regular review of the included information, and the addition of details on research interests, clinical interests, prizes and institute affiliations, are a great way to boost online presence.
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 Strategic Communications receives regular requests from editors at The Conversation for expert sources. In turn, staff within Strategic Communications at the University level, and within Marketing and Communications in the Colle of Medicine, reach out to faculty members with expertise in the requested subject areas, seeking their written works on various issues of public interest.
Faculty with topics of interest should contact Zach Sweger, College of Medicine science writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google Scholar provides a simple way to enhance visibility. Its Profiles feature functions as a landing page for publications, but that functionality only works if the profile is set to “public.” Double-check profile visibility by logging in and, at the top of the main page, confirming that it reads “My profile is public” beneath the affiliation information.
If that does not appear, click the “Edit” button at the top of the profile, select “My profile is public,” and then click “Save.”
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.
LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that currently has more than 20 million members in 200 countries. Investigators should consider updating their profiles to emphasize specialized skills and career trajectory.
Penn State College of Medicine provides the tools and resources investigators need to navigate their way through the stages of research.
College research administration and support teams are designed to help investigators succeed in their research efforts as they strive to:
- Find funding sources
- Prepare proposals
- Negotiate agreements
- Issue subagreements
- Ensure compliance
- Succeed commercially
- Manage post-award
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.
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.