Hanover Research Partnership

Penn State College of Medicine has contracted with Hanover Research, a grant development firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., to provide proposal support services to faculty investigators.

The primary goal of this partnership is to increase the quality and success rate of extramural research proposals. Faculty members with a primary appointment at the College of Medicine are eligible for Hanover’s services, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This initiative is generously supported by the Office of the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. There is no cost-share requirement for the individual PI or his/her home department.

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Service Offerings

Overview Expand answer

Grant support available to Penn State College of Medicine faculty members ranges from individual consultation sessions to proposal review and revision services.

To request Hanover’s assistance, PIs must submit a Hanover Request Form. PIs can request a stand-alone service or a combination of services.

Request Hanover’s Assistance

Support services from Hanover Research are depicted in a circular graphic comprising three arrows. Each lists a service provided and shows the number of days of turnaround time, next to a small calendar icon. Each arrow is a different color.The Research Concierge Service manages the Hanover pipeline, which is capped at six concurrent projects.

Every effort is made to accommodate all PI requests.

Consultation Sessions
Grants consultant delivers expert advice on how to frame a research project to match the funder’s priorities.

Proposal Review
Grants consultant identifies strengths and weaknesses; opportunities for shaping a more competitive proposal are outlined.

Proposal Revision
Grants consultant uses track changes and margin comments to suggest revisions to the research proposal. Special focus on achieving clarity and effective use of language.

Consultation Session Expand answer

Consultations are an excellent option for PIs seeking advice on how to frame a research project to match a funder’s priorities.

Sessions are conducted via conference call and are generally one hour in length with the PI option to close out Hanover’s engagement with a subsequently scheduled 30-minute follow-up call.

Hanover offers three types of consultation sessions:

  • Unfunded Proposal Consult: For PIs preparing to resubmit a previously declined proposal but uncertain how to address reviewer feedback and other critiques within the rewrite.
  • Research Design Consult: For PIs needing guidance on how to pitch a research idea to a program officer.
  • Grantseeking Strategy Consult: For PIs looking for expert advice on how to frame a research idea to better align with a funder’s strategic priorities.
Proposal Review Expand answer

A Hanover grants consultant provides a peer review of the research proposal, assessing the narrative for its degree of alignment with the funding opportunity announcement and evaluating the proposal based on review criteria.

A proposal review is most suitable for PIs who are in the early stages of the proposal writing process. A representative example is the PI who has just completed a first draft of the specific aims page and research strategy sections.

For most projects, the cutoff date for submitting proposals to Hanover Research is five to seven weeks before the sponsoring agency’s proposal submission deadline.

Proposal Revision Expand answer

A Hanover grants consultant takes proposal review a step further by using track changes and margin comments to suggest revisions to the proposal narrative. Track changes focus on achieving clarity and effective use of language, including punctuation and grammar.

A proposal revision is most suitable for PIs that are in the later stages of their writing process. For example, the PI who has a final or near-final draft of his/her specific aims page and research strategy sections.

For most projects, the cutoff date for submitting proposals to Hanover Research is five to seven weeks before the sponsoring agency’s proposal submission deadline.


How are projects selected for the Hanover queue? Expand answer

The Research Concierge Service manages the pipeline of projects submitted to Hanover Research.

Several factors are taken into consideration when evaluating projects for Hanover Research, including but not limited to the faculty member’s willingness to share proposal materials and honor agreed-upon deadlines, the completeness of proposal documents, sponsor deadlines, and current pipeline capacity.

The College of Medicine’s contract with Hanover Research caps the pipeline at six active projects. Every effort is made to accommodate all PI requests, but some worthwhile projects may not be accepted into the pipeline due to this limitation.

Who is eligible for Hanover's services? Expand answer

To be eligible for Hanover’s services, the PI must be a faculty member with a primary appointment at Penn State College of Medicine.

How does Hanover approach proposal critiques? Expand answer

Hanover makes no claim that its grants consultants are subject matter experts who can evaluate the specific science underpinning a research proposal. Rather, Hanover’s value lies in its understanding of proposal and agency nuances that can help PIs competitively reframe proposals in response to a specific solicitation.

Hanover seeks to achieve cohesion in the grant narrative and to align the proposal with funding requirements. A Hanover grants consultant may address general scientific elements of a proposal, such as:

  • Construct or structure of the hypothesis and methodology. While Hanover does not purport to provide “scientific reviews” that evaluate the specific science underpinning proposals, its grants consultants will flag where they think research questions, aims, and hypotheses could be strengthened and better aligned.
  • Literature review. Hanover grants consultants will note places where a citation is needed and has not been included.
  • Clarity and focus. When they suspect that narrative content lacks sufficient clarity, consistency, or rigor, Hanover grants consultants will pose questions to encourage the PI to verify the science, and/or suggest a review by a senior colleague or program officer.
How does Hanover protect the confidentiality of PI materials? Expand answer

All documents are shared with Hanover via secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to protect the exchange of confidential information.

How does Hanover work with each PI? Expand answer

After a PI project is accepted in Hanover Research’s pipeline, Hanover Research emails the PI to introduce the assigned grants consultant.

Consultation sessions are generally one hour in length and take place via conference call.

For proposal review and revision services, Hanover Research first schedules a project initiation conference call prior to the start of work. Project initiation calls give the PI an opportunity to discuss specific areas of concern with the assigned grants consultant and to share reviewer feedback (if available).

After Hanover releases its deliverables, the PI is afforded the opportunity for a debrief conference call to discuss Hanover’s critique and to address any outstanding questions or concerns.

What parts of a research proposal will Hanover critique? Expand answer

Hanover’s proposal critiques focus on the narrative components of research proposals – namely the specific aims page, research strategy, and (for resubmissions) the introduction. For resubmission proposals, the PI should be prepared to provide a copy of the unfunded proposal along with reviewer feedback.

What type of proposals are appropriate for Hanover to critique? Expand answer

Hanover Research has the expertise to review a wide range of proposals, from individual grants (e.g. K, R01, R21, R03) to program project, center, and institutional training grants. Hanover Research will work with new submissions, resubmission proposals, and competing renewal applications. For resubmissions of unfunded proposals and competing renewal applications, PIs will be asked to provide a copy of the original submission along with reviewers’ comments (e.g., summary statement).

Who do I contact if I have questions? Expand answer

Please direct questions to Jennifer Schaefer, Research Concierge Administrator for Penn State College of Medicine, at jschaefer1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 289352.

About Hanover Research

Overview Expand answer

Established in 2003, Hanover Research is a grant development and market research firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Hanover’s grant professionals have collectively more than 150 years of grantsmanship experience that cuts across a wide range of foundations and federal agencies. Hanover has worked extensively with higher education institutions to grow their research portfolios and has helped clients to secure more than $500 million in awarded grants.

The company’s grants practice supports both junior faculty members and seasoned investigators seeking to strengthen their grantsmanship skills.

Hanover has considerable expertise in relation to the mechanisms and agencies commonly targeted by PIs at the College of Medicine. Grant mechanisms include individual grants (e.g. K, R01, R21, R03), program project grants, center grants, and institutional training grants. Representative funders include the NIH, NSF, DOD, AHRQ, PCORI, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Representative Research Staff Biographies Expand answer

Bryan DeBusk, Senior Grants Consultant

Role: Senior Consultant Specializing in Basic and Clinical Research, Institutional Improvement and STEM-Related

Credentials: PhD, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Mississippi; BS, Biology, Ouchita Baptist University

Biography: Bryan specializes in program design, research design, and proposal development to support grant writing efforts of basic and clinical researchers, higher education faculty, and other college and university staff. Since transitioning from a university faculty appointment to full-time grant writing in 2008, Bryan has helped clients obtain more than $110 million in funding from NIH, NSF, DOL, ED, other federal and state agencies, and private foundations. He is a member of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and holds the Grant Professionals Certification conferred by the GPA.

Key awards

  • $20,000,000 – NSF – Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
  • $12,500,000 – NIH – P50
  • $8,900,000 – NIH – U54

Sarah Ott, Grants Consultant

Role: Health Funding Expert with Experience in Program Development and Evaluation, Clinical and Translational Science, and PCORI

Credentials: MS, Exercise Science and Health Promotion, California University of Pennsylvania; MS, Journalism, West Virginia University; BS, Journalism, West Virginia University

Biography: Sarah provides grant review, writing and project design services for clients around the country including major post-secondary institutions and academic research institutions. Sarah predominantly works on health related proposals supporting a variety of investigators including physicians, nurse researchers, pharmacists, medical faculty, and basic scientists. Her areas of expertise include clinical and translational science, patient-centered outcomes research and program development and evaluation. Prior to coming to Hanover, Sarah accumulated a decade of grant-writing experience at two large academic health sciences centers. While at Hanover, Sarah has added successful state and foundation proposals to her federal experience with agencies such as DOD, NIH (P01, R01, R03, R15, R21, R37, U01 and U54), HRSA (R40), CDC, AHRQ and ED.

Key Awards:

  • $1,000,000 – Department of Defense – Defense Health Program’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
  • $1,200,000 – Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation – Specialty Care for Vulnerable Populations
  • $250,000 – Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – Eugene Washington Engagement Awards

Martha Norton, Grants Consultant

Role: Specializing in Research and Development Projects That Have the Potential for Commercialization

Credentials: MA, Comparative History, Brandeis University; BA, Art History, Wellesley College

Biography: Since 2004, Martha has secured more than $20 million for nonprofit organizations, research institutions, and small businesses from federal agencies and departments, such as SAMHSA, NIH, DoD, and DOJ. During her five-year tenure with Hanover, Martha has helped Hanover clients prepare numerous foundation, state, and federal funding applications. As part of the grantseeking process, Martha guides partners through each stage of an application and provides strategic counsel to ensure that applications are competitive and complete. Martha also has experience in preparing IRB applications and academic papers and poster presentations.

Key Awards:

  • $750,000 – NIH – Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
  • $1,500,000 – NIH – R25
  • $380,000 – DoD – MSRDC

Tom Kuhn, Grants Consultant

Role: Expert in Project Conceptualization, Evidence-based Program Design, and Proposal Development

Credentials: MA, Philosophy, New York University; BA, English and Philosophy, Texas State University

Biography: Tom focuses on assisting partners with the full range of grant strategy, project and research design, and proposal writing. He has substantial experience in evidence-based program design and project management for the development of complex projects in STEM research and education, healthcare and health sciences research, agriculture, economic development, public broadcasting, and small business initiatives. He has substantial experience working with executive, clinical, and technology teams to develop and fund innovative health IT, data analytics, and practice optimization projects. He is also actively assisting faculty researchers, universities, and private businesses working to transfer and commercialize federally funded research. To date, Tom has secured more than $100 million in federal and foundation grants and related investments, including SBIR stage 1 and 2 funding. Tom chairs the board of the Health Republic Insurance Company and has served as a reviewer for multiple federal agencies.

Key Awards:

  • $13,400,000 – Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT – Regional Extension Center
  • $5,000,000 – W. K. Kellogg Foundation — Education Pipeline and Community Economic Development
  • $2,440,000 – Department of Education – Title V Strengthening Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Anne Loudenslager, Grants Consultant

Role: Expert in Community and Rural Health, Program Design, Proposal Development, and Grant Administration

Credentials: MHA, Wilkes University; BS, Nutrition and Dietetics, Mansfield University

Biography: Anne brings to Hanover more than 15 years of experience in grant and program development, specializing in rural and community health. Before coming to Hanover, Anne served as grants officer for a public, liberal arts university, where she also taught in the community health education bachelor’s degree program. While there, she collaborated with other universities in the state system to develop system-wide policies and procedures relative to sponsored programs and gained valuable experience in grant and contract administration. In addition to numerous successful state proposals, Anne worked to secure significant funding from IMLS, DOE, USDA, and the National Writing Project. Anne is a former executive director of a community health partnership, where she acquired grants experience with HRSA, SAMHSA, and the CDC. Anne also serves as a grant reviewer for several federal agencies, including HRSA, Administration for Children and Families, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Key Awards:

  • $2,100,000 – PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development – Community Conservation and Employment Program
  • $999,940 – IMLS – Laura Bush 21st Century Learners
  • $1,200,000 – ED – Student Support Services

Susan Perri, Grants Consultant

Role: National Grants Consultant Specializing in Strategic Education and Healthcare Grant Seeking

Credentials: MPA, University of Colorado; BS, Health Science, Goddard College

Biography: Susan works with NGOs, health care systems, university systems, and K-12 school districts of all sizes nationally. In her capacity as a grants consultant, she develops state and federal grant proposals including data analyses, needs assessments, program evaluation, and sustainability planning. Susan has a decade of experience
developing grant programs for organizations nationwide. Her grant projects have secured more than $35 million in new grants for positive youth development, workforce development, nursing and science education, faculty development, laboratory and health facility renovations, student retention, health literacy, patient support, health information technology, chronic disease management, behavioral health and rural health projects. Susan has also served as a federal peer reviewer for ED and HHS, and acquisitions manager for the peer-reviewed GPA Journal. She is a member of the Grant Professionals Association.

Key Awards:

  • $2,300,000 – HHS – Office of Head Start
  • $580,000 – ED – Carol M. White Physical Education Program
  • $1,500,000 – USDA – Distance Learning and Telemedicine