Proposal Development

Proposal development is a key part of the Research Concierge Service. In addition to the material below, you can see Research Concierge-compiled FAQs specific to Penn State College of Medicine here.

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NIH Biosketch Overview Expand answer

For NIH grant submissions, a biosketch is required for all key personnel and Other Significant Contributors (OSC).

Visit the NIH website for templates and samples and answers to frequently asked questions.

You can also see Penn State College of Medicine biosketch FAQs.

NIH Biosketch Section-by-Section Guide Expand answer


The biosketch is limited to five pages. Graphics, figures and tables are not permitted in the biosketch.

Section B, Positions and Honors

List in chronological order positions held since the completion of your most recent degree, concluding with your present position.

Section C, Contributions to Science

In this section, describe up to five of your most significant contributions to science. Each contribution can reference four peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products, for a maximum of 20 citations.

  • Citations do not all have to be authored by you.
  • Non-publication research products include conference proceedings such as meeting abstracts, posters and other presentations.
  • You may mention research products that are under development (such as manuscripts not yet accepted for publication) in the narrative.
  • It is optional to include a URL to your full body of work, but if you do, it must be via a government (.gov) website, such as My Bibliography.

Section D, Research Support (standard) or Scholastic Performance (fellowship)

NSF Biosketch Overview Expand answer

For NSF grant submissions, a biosketch is required for each individual identified as Senior Personnel on the project. Senior Personnel includes PIs, co-PIs and other faculty members (at the applicant institution or another institution) who will participate in the project being supported.

Some key differences between the NSF biosketch and the NIH biosketch:

  • NSF biosketch format does not allow a URL link to an investigator’s full body of work.
  • NSF biosketches allow only 10 potential citations to be listed. The 10 potential citations include:
    • Up to five products most closely related to the proposed project, and
    • Up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project.

    Only the list of 10 citations are used in the review of a proposal.

  • In lieu of the personal statement on the NIH biosketch, the NSF biosketch has a section titled “Synergistic Activities,” which allows individuals to list of up to five examples that demonstrate the broader impact of their professional and scholarly activities, focusing on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation.
NSF Biosketch Section-by-Section Guide Expand answer

See the NSF’s Biosketch guidelines here.


  • Provide only the requested information and include each section. If you don’t have information to provide for a section, indicate “Not applicable.”
  • Allowable fonts and font sizes: Arial, Courier New or Palatino Linotype in 10 pt or larger, Times New Roman or Computer Modern Family in 11 pt or larger. The font size of less than 10 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figures, tables or diagram captions and when using
    a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters. Peers are cautioned, however, that the text must still be readable.
  • Margins: One inch in all directions
  • Line spacing: No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch


Include investigator name, NSF ID, position title and institution, professional address, and professional telephone, email or webpage.

Section A, Professional Preparation

Include a table listing the following columns: Institution, Location, Major or Area of Study, Degree (if Applicable) and Years (inclusive).

Be sure to include undegraduate institution(s) first, then graduate institution(s), then postdoctoral institution(s).

Section B, Appointments

List professional/academic appointments in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent appointment and working back). Do not include postdoctoral appointments in this section.

Section C, Products

List up to five products most closely related to the proposed project and up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project. Only the list of 10 will be used in the review of the proposal.

Acceptable products must be citable and accessible including but not limited to publications, data sets, software, patents and copyrights. Unpublished documents submitted/accepted for publication are
acceptable and should include likely date of publication.

Unacceptable products include unpublished documents not yet submitted for publication, invited lectures and additional lists of products.

Citation format: Each product must include full citation information including (where applicable and practicable) names of all authors (no et. al), date of publication or release, title, title of enclosing work such as journal or book, volume, issue, pages, website and URL or other Persistent Identifier.

If only publications are included, the heading “Publications” may be used for this section of the biographical sketch.

Use the heading “Products Most Closely Related to the Proposed Project” and list five items below. Then use the heading “Other Significant Products, Whether or Not Related to the Proposed Project,” and list up to five other significant products below.

Section D, Synergistic Activities

List of up to five examples that demonstrate the broader impact of the individual’s professional and scholarly activities that focus on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation. The examples should relate to the proposal and/or reflect demonstrated skills, assets and inroads to the program activities being suggested by the proposal. If you review for a number of journals or funding agencies, give the total number, but do not list each individual journal or agency: NSF will count each of those as one synergistic activity!

Examples: Innovations in teaching and training (e.g., development of curricular materials and pedagogical methods); contributions to the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation methodologies, and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in science, mathematics, engineering and technology; and service to the scientific and engineering community outside of the individual’s immediate organization.

SciENcv Expand answer

SciENcv is an online tool you can use to create biosketches for multiple federal agencies.

Within SciENcv, you can use an existing biosketch as a template to create another format (e.g. old NIH format to new NIH format, NIH format to NSF format).

Visit the website for a YouTube tutorial and to get started.

You can also see Penn State College of Medicine SciENcv FAQs.

Boilerplate Language

Overview Expand answer

Grant proposals often require a description of facilities and resources or other supplementary documentation that describes the environment where the research will be performed.

The Research Concierge Service has compiled boilerplate language for this purpose. Investigators are advised to tailor boilerplate language to reflect the specific aims of their research project. In addition, the RCS strongly recommends that investigators directly contact the department/institute/center in question when seeking a more in-depth resource description, particularly if a specific resource is integral to the research proposal. If you would like to submit boilerplate language for the website or provide updated language for an existing resource, please email

See available boilerplate language

Checklists, Tips and Templates

Tips and Templates Overview Expand answer

Are you writing your first grant proposal, but need help getting started? The Research Concierge Service (RCS) has compiled some guidance documents that can be helpful reference when preparing your next grant submission. The RCS also maintains a small “K library,” which contains copies of mentored K proposals that were subsequently awarded to College of Medicine faculty. These proposals were provided to the RCS by permission of participating faculty members to be shared, by request, with College of Medicine faculty considering a mentored “K” submission. To request access to the “K library,” please contact the RCS.

Facilities and Other Resources Section - Template Expand answer

A well-written Facilities and Other Resources section of an NIH grant application should demonstrate to reviewers that the institution(s) involved in the proposed research has the right scientific environment to support a successful outcome. We prepared a template to guide you through the process of creating a strong Facilities and Other Resources section for your next NIH funding proposal.

Source: Forms Version D Series (last updated March 24, 2017). Guidance developed and maintained by the NIH for preparing and submitting applications via to NIH and other PHS agencies using the SF424 (R&R).

Page Limits

No page limits. The NIH does not impose page limits on this section, so utilize this section to reinforce key themes presented in the Research Strategy.

NIH Guidance

Describe how the scientific environment in which the research will be done contributes to the probability of success. The scientific environment includes institutional support, physical resources, and intellectual rapport.

In describing the scientific environment in which the work will be done, discuss ways in which the proposed studies will benefit from unique features of the scientific environment or from unique subject populations or how studies will employ useful collaborative arrangements.

If there are multiple performance sites, describe the resources available at each site. In addition, describe any special facilities used for working with biohazards and any other potentially dangerous substances.

New Investigators/Early-Stage Investigators (ESI)

Use this section to provide specific information about the institutional investment being made in your scientific and professional development. The description may include the following elements:

  • Resources for classes, travel, or training;
  • Collegiate support, such as career enrichment programs, assistance and guidance and supervision of trainees involved with your project, and availability of organized peer groups;
  • Logistical support, such as administrative management and oversight and best practices training;
  • Financial support, such as protected time for research with salary support

Helpful Tips to Guide Your Approach: After reading this section, reviewers should feel confident that the PI and his/her research team have the necessary space and institutional support at the performance site(s) to conduct the proposed research and to prepare manuscripts for publication. Consider the types of questions reviewers are likely to ask themselves while reading your application:

  • What are the relevant capabilities of these facilities? Do they match the proposed research? Do they align with the budget?
  • What features of these facilities make them uniquely suited to the proposed research? For example, does the laboratory in question provide access to a special type of analysis unavailable elsewhere? Special study populations?
  • How will the PI gain access to these facilities? To what extent are they available to support the proposed research?


Focus on the facilities that will be utilized to conduct the proposed research. Examples of relevant facilities include core facilities, high throughput computing and special instrumentation. Include physical location, square footage, and other key aspects of the space. If a specific sub-heading does not apply to your proposed research, indicate N/A (Not Applicable) so reviewers understand you did not accidentally omit this information.

Laboratory: Include a discussion of the PI’s lab space and how these laboratory facilities are well suited to the proposed research.

Clinical: For projects that involve human research, describe what systems are in place at the institution to support patient oriented research. Discuss how interaction with the patient (e.g., clinical visits, blood samples) will be managed throughout the life of the project.

Animal: Does the successful performance of the proposed research require access to specific cell lines, mouse stocks, animal tissue banks/repositories, etc.? Discuss how these types of animal resources will be obtained and cared for in properly accredited facilities and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. Emphasis should be placed on the capabilities of staff and technicians to provide for the humane care and use of animal specimens.

Computer: This section should include a discussion of the PI’s computer resources, which support data management and communication among members of the research team. Describe what sort of computer backup storage is available to protect data integrity.

Office: This section should briefly discuss the PI’s office (including square footage) and the department (or relevant division and/or center) office resources that are pertinent and available to the proposed project. For instance, does the department hold a license to a specific piece of software critical to data analysis for the project? How critical are certain IT support services to the project?

Other: If the research involves select agent(s) being used at any performance site(s), the biocontainment resources available at each site should be described in this section. This section is also a place to identify any field study sites, if applicable, and to name other support services (e.g., machine shop, electronics shop) and specify the extent to which they will be available to the project.

Career Development/Training Plan - Template Expand answer

Candidates for the NIH mentored career development (or “K”) awards must include a career development/training plan within their NIH proposal. The career development/training plan must align with the research strategy and demonstrate that the candidate has undertaken a thorough self-assessment, which carefully considered short- and long-term career goals.

Through this self-assessment, the career development/training plan identifies specific areas in need of improvement that, if addressed, will help the candidate transition to a successful R01 (or equivalent) submission and ultimately, an independent research career.

Page Limits

For the mentored “K” application, the Career Development Plan and Research Strategy sections are uploaded as separate PDF attachments. However, the two sections cannot collectively exceed 12 pages in length.

NIH Guidance

NIH instructions stipulate that this attachment be organized into three sections, following the headings and specified order below. Each section must begin with the appropriate section heading and include any additional information requested in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

Helpful Tips to Guide Your Approach

As the mentored “K” candidate, your career development/training plan should demonstrate that you have undertaken a thorough self-assessment that carefully considered your short- and long-term career goals. The self-assessment should have identified specific areas in need of improvement that, if addressed, will help you transition to a successful R01 (or equivalent) submission and an independent research career. When they read this section of your proposal, reviewers must be convinced that the type of intense, supervised training and research experiences provided through the mentored “K” mechanism is essential to your future research career.

Candidate’s Background Section

NIH Guidance: Describe your past scientific history, indicating how the work fits into past and future research career development. If there are consistent themes or issues that have guided previous work, they should be made clear. Alternatively, if your work has changed direction, indicate the reasons for the change.


  • Articulate a series of “growth steps”
  • Say what these steps taught you
  • Trace a pathway to discovery of your research career focus


  • Create a carefully tailored biography:
    • Where have you have been? What have you accomplished?
    • What have you learned? How did you discover your passion?
    • Culminate with your current career goal
  • How does this experience prepare you for the proposed research?
  • Establish a theme (your career goal) that will carry through the whole proposal

Career Goals and Objectives Section

NIH Guidance: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Justify the need for the award by describing how the career development award will enable you to develop and/or expand your research career. You are encouraged to include a timeline, including plans to apply for subsequent grant support.

You may wish to include a table with the heading “Career Objectives” and the subheadings “Immediate Career Objectives” and “Long-Term Career Objectives.”

Candidate’s Plan for Career Development/Training Activities During Award Period Section

NIH Guidance: Describe the new or enhanced research skills and knowledge you will acquire as a result of the proposed award. For mentored awards, describe any structured activities that are part of the developmental plan, such as coursework or workshops that will help you learn new techniques or develop needed professional skills. If coursework is included, provide course numbers (if available) and descriptive titles. Briefly discuss each of the activities, other than research, in which you expect to participate. For each activity, other than research, explain how it relates to the proposed research and to the career development plan. Include a percentage of time involvement for each activity by year, expressed in person months.

Strategy: The career development activities you outline in this section should prepare you to undertake activities outlined in the research strategy, represent new or enhanced skills, and show a logical progression from prior research and training experiences.

  • Identify new knowledge and skills required to achieve career goals (and conduct research project)
  • Specify plans to achieve them
  • Dovetail career development plan and research plan (learn a skill before doing it in project)


  • Show that the career development plan connects with specific research targets, but clearly distinguish career development objectives from research aims
  • Write specific, measurable career development objectives (i.e. knowledge or skills to be gained)
  • Describe mentoring carefully: Who, what and when
  • Create a combined timeline that illustrates the integral relationship between the career development/training plan and the research project

A sample table for “Percent of Time Involvement” might look like this:

Career Development and Research Timeline:

  • Plot all activities against all years
  • For immersion training, indicate when and for how long
  • If including coursework, demonstrate how it supports your career goals. List the
    courses, including a course description; method of teaching; state when you will enroll.
  • Discuss the overall approach toward mentoring. Present a plan for interacting with the mentor team; particularly important if any mentors are located at another institution. Include an evaluation component that describes how the team will assess your progress during the award period.

A sample table for “Mentoring Team” might look like this:

Examples of career development/training activities:

    Didactic coursework (provide specifics, including course description, when you will enroll)
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training
  • Immersion training
  • Mentor meetings
  • Lectures/scientific meetings
  • Clinical services
  • Workshops (e.g. grant writing, research methods)
Setting the Stage for a Successful NIH Mentored "K" Application Expand answer

So you decided that a mentored “K” award is the right opportunity at the right time for you. You need a period of mentored research and training (three to five years) to position you for an independent research career. Before diving into the proposal writing process, take some time to examine the big picture.

It is true that a competitive mentored “K” proposal needs a good research idea with a focused hypothesis. But the research strategy must work hand-in-hand with the career development/training plan, which holds significant weight with reviewers. With mentored “K” awards, reviewers pay close attention to the candidate’s career development/training plan – its synergy with the research strategy and its integration with the mentor team. Before getting started, take some time to assess your career goals in light of NIH reviewer priorities. What resources are available at your institution? What strengths can you capitalize upon? What weaknesses (or gaps) can you fill with external resources? Use these tips to map out a strategy for preparing a competitive mentored “K” proposal.

Tip 1: Do your homework at the institute level

Overview: Before you begin writing your application, do some intelligence-gathering on the relevant funding announcements. Reach out to the program officer(s) to discuss the alignment of your proposed project with the institute’s funding priorities.

Suggestions: The NIH supports mentored “K” awards through parent announcements. These omnibus funding announcements enable applicants to submit investigator-initiated “K” grant applications to any participating institute. Keep in mind that each institute that participates in a parent announcement will have their own requirements and funding priorities. Potential applicants are well-advised to navigate these concerns early in the proposal development process. On occasion, some institutes issue their own funding announcements for mentored “K” awards.

  • Step 1: Determine which type of “K” award may be right for you. The NIH has a career development website to get you started.
  • Step 2: Carefully review the relevant funding announcements for your chosen “K” mechanism. The Funding Opportunity Purpose section of most parent announcements contains a web link to an NIH “Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts.” This table provides critical information about how each institute approaches that specific “K” mechanism – in terms of research priorities, limitations for salary support, and research support.
  • Step 3: Assess the funding environment. Use NIH RePORT to examine the types of projects that have been funded within the institute(s) you are considering for your “K” submission. Spend some time on the institute websites to familiarize yourself with the scientific focus of their respective research programs. Determine if your ideas match the institutes’ high-priority areas.
  • Step 4: Contact the Program Officer(s) to discuss your proposed project. Briefly introduce yourself via email to the relevant Program Officer(s) to express interest in the funding mechanism and to request an opportunity to discuss your project at their convenience. Consider attaching a project concept paper.

Tip 2: Select mentors with funding and a mentoring track record

Overview: Mentors should serve as trusted advisors who provide support and guidance at critical junctures in your career. Select a mentor team that has active funding, a strong training track record and complementary strengths.


  • Select a primary mentor that is a full-time, senior investigator, actively funded (preferably NIH R01 or equivalent), and well-respected in your field. Reviewers are looking closely at the qualifications of your primary mentor because if you receive the award, your primary mentor will be the main individual responsible for guiding your career development for the next three to five years.
  • Select a primary mentor with a strong training track record. NIH reviewers want to see a primary mentor who not only has a strong publication record, but also has a solid record of training people who have gone on to achieve significant career success as researchers.
  • Select co-mentors that complement the strengths of your primary mentor. Each mentor should play a unique role in your career development. Select co-mentors that are actively funded investigators who complement the strengths of your primary mentor. If you feel that you need additional mentors that would have a narrower area of responsibility, consider forming an advisory committee and refer to them as scientific or technical advisors.
  • Make sure you will have access to your mentors. A prospective mentor may be well respected in your chosen field, but may travel extensively or be so overcommitted that they will not realistically have the time to serve as your mentor. If mentors are located at another institution and/or have a demanding schedule, be prepared to demonstrate within your application how you will sustain the mentoring relationships throughout the life of the award.

Helpful references:

Tip 3: Develop a detailed schedule for completing your application

Overview: Work with your primary mentor to map out a timeline for your “K” application.

Suggestions: NIH reviewers want to read an application that reads as if your mentors – particularly the primary mentor – had an active role in writing your application. If reviewers sense that your mentors have not been actively involved in the development of your “K” application, they may question how involved your mentors will be when you have the “K” award in hand. Work with your primary mentor to identify key milestones when you will engage the mentor team – i.e., reviewing early drafts, offering constructive criticism, etc.

Tip 4: Connect your training goals to your specific aims

Overview: Make sure the career development/training plan and research strategy “speak” to each other.

Suggestions: The career development/training plan should demonstrate that you have conducted a thoughtful self-assessment that identified specific weaknesses that can only be addressed through additional training and mentored research experiences. In addition, the career development/training plan and research strategy need to align with each other. In other words, the research experiences and training opportunities outlined within your career development timeline should match the timeline of your proposed research aims. For example, if you propose to learn a new research method, the research strategy section should explain how you will utilize this newly learned technique within your research project.

Tip 5: Familiarize yourself with the NIH Review Process

Overview: Become familiar with the NIH guidance provided to reviewers and use this information to inform the approach to your “K” application.

Suggestions: Spend some time on the NIH’s Guidance for Reviewers website to familiarize yourself with the guidelines, critique templates, and review criteria provided to NIH reviewers. On this website, the NIH posts Review Criteria and Considerations, which includes detailed review of guidance for each of the “K” award mechanisms. Also available are sample fillable templates that are similar to the templates that are provided to reviewers who will score your application.

Tip 6: Establish a track record of published productivity

Overview: The funding environment at NIH is highly competitive. To demonstrate your commitment to a career in research – and your capacity to succeed with a mentored “K” award – NIH reviewers want to see candidates that have a publication track record.

Suggestions: It is highly recommended that candidates pursue opportunities to be both corresponding and lead author on research papers to demonstrate their potential for research independence. Reviewers look closely at each candidate’s past productivity as an indication of future productivity. Major review articles can be helpful; first-author articles are best.

Tip 7: Do homework on your home institution

Overview: Do you know what resources are available at your institution to help with the preparation and submission of your “K” application? Before you start writing the proposal, take some time to “take stock” of the resources available and the institution’s policies that will impact your application timeline.

Suggestions: It is important to understand that “K” grants are awarded to the candidate’s sponsoring institution, which administers the “K” award on behalf of the candidate. This means that the College of Medicine plays an integral role in a candidate’s “K” grant, both at the pre-award and post-award stage. Once a candidate has selected a “K” mechanism and decided upon a targeted submission deadline with a given Institute/Center, they are strongly encouraged to reach out to the pre-award specialist within their primary department to discuss their intent to submit a proposal. Pre-award specialists have a strong working knowledge of the NIH proposal preparation process and can often help PIs compile the application package. At the College of Medicine, the Office of Research Affairs (ORA) has signatory authority for all external grant submissions and, as such, must review a “K” grant for completeness before it gets submitted to the NIH. PIs must familiarize themselves with ORA policy regarding grant review and submission as it will impact the timeline for completing the “K” application.

Application Checklist - NIH Mentored "K" Application Expand answer

The Research Concierge Service has compiled an application checklist based off the Career Development Instructions for NIH and Other PHS Agencies dated March 24, 2017. Application form instructions for most NIH mechanisms can be accessed at

Special Note: This checklist addresses the key components of a standard mentored “K” proposal. This checklist is intended as a general guide. Applicants should always refer to the relevant NIH application guide for their chosen funding mechanism alongside the instructions contained in the relevant Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). FOA instructions always supersede standard application instructions.

See the K Award Checklist

Source: This document was prepared by the Research Concierge Service at Penn State College of Medicine. This document is based on information contained in the Form D Series – Career Development (“K”) Grant Application Instructions (updated Nov. 22, 2016).

Helpful NIH Resources Expand answer
  • NIH Career Development Kiosk: A tool to help you identify the “K” mechanism right for your career stage. Includes links to active funding announcements.
  • NIH Table of Application instructions: Refer to this table to determine which set of application instructions applies to your grant program.
  • Career Development (“K”) Grant Application Instructions: Application instructions for the mentored “K” should be used alongside the information contained in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to complete your application. Always keep in mind that instructions contained in the relevant FOA always supersede standard application instructions.
  • Guidelines, Critique Templates, and Review Criteria: These documents provide general orientation to individuals participating as reviewers in the NIH peer review process. The NIH provides reviewer guidance for each type of “K” mechanism.
  • NIH RePORTER: This NIH-managed database, updated weekly, profiles research projects funded by NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and other entities. A good resource for identifying the types of projects funded through specific institutes at the NIH.

Concept Papers

What is a Concept Paper? Expand answer

Concept papers are the written equivalent of an “elevator speech.” These one- to two-page documents provide a concise overview of your proposed project.

Some funders (including foundations) approve concept papers before inviting full applications. Concept papers are also a good best practice for anyone interested in honing their message with potential funding sponsors.

When writing a concept paper, consider the “Heilmeier Catechism.” George Heilmeier was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1970s. Heilmeier developed a set of questions, referred to as the Heilmeier Catechism, that every proposal for a new research program had to answer:

  • What are you trying to do?
  • How is it done today? What are the limits of current practice?
  • What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the metrics for success?

Learn more about the Heilmeier Catechism

Why Create a Concept Paper? Expand answer

You identified a funding opportunity that seems to be a good fit for your proposed project. For the next several weeks (if not months) you will be committing a substantial amount of your time to the proposal-writing process. Are you confident you have fully vetted this opportunity and know for certain that your proposal is responsive to the funding announcement? Before committing significant time to the proposal, consider drafting a one- to two-page concept paper to float your idea with the relevant program officer.

  • Concept papers provide an opportunity for investigators to receive informal feedback from funding sponsors before developing a full grant proposal.
  • A concept paper also demonstrates to potential funding sponsors that the investigator has thought about the significance of the proposed project and its alignment with the sponsor’s research mission.
  • Many private foundations require concept papers as a means of assessing a proposed project’s alignment with their mission before inviting full proposals.
  • For state and federal funding opportunities, a concept paper facilitates interaction with program officials whose resulting advice can be instrumental to determining the funding mechanism and program area that best fit your project.
Concept Paper Template Expand answer

Instructions: No more than two pages in length, a concept paper frames a research idea and explains the importance of a particular research project to potential funding sponsors and/or collaborators. A concept paper may include some or all of the following sections, depending upon how developed the research idea and whether or not the concept paper is being developed in response to a specific funding opportunity.

Header: The header of your concept paper should be the working title for your project. Including your institution’s logo builds brand identity. Approved logos are available for download from the Infonet (internal access only; login required).

Introduction: In two to three sentences, provide a brief overview of the project, an explanation of how it aligns with the funding agency’s mission, and why the research question needs to be addressed.

Purpose: If applicable, describe the funding mechanism you believe is a strong match for the project.

Project Description: Describe the “who, what, and when” – what tasks will be undertaken, who will lead those tasks, and when the work will be accomplished. If a simple, yet effective graphic can be included to illustrate a key point, include it!

The project description can be broken down into three sections:

  • Problem and Significance
    • Explain why you think, based on a review of the literature, that the topic needs study and why it is important to the field.
  • Approach/Methodology
    • Specify what hypotheses you will test and what model will guide your hypotheses. Explain what is new in your approach, why it is important to be done, and how it is unique. Include mention of any resources, collaborators, target populations, preliminary data, etc. that area available to the project.
  • Impacts and Outcomes
    • Describe the project’s expected outcomes, which may include impacts on the scientific field, societal benefits, health impacts, economic impacts, etc.

Project Team: Identify key collaborators and their sponsoring institution. Identify stakeholders for which significant cooperation will be needed to implement the proposed project. If applicable, indicate which stakeholders are willing to provide a written commitment of support for the project.

Budget/Timeline: If appropriate for the chosen audience, indicate what you anticipate the project will cost and how long it will take to complete.

Contact Info: Provide contact information for the lead investigator.

Hanover Research Partnership

Overview Expand answer

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.

Learn more about the Hanover Research partnership

Tips for Working with Program Officers

Do's and Don'ts for Working with Program Officers Expand answer

Program officers manage an agency’s grant portfolio and therefore have a vested interest in helping researchers submit competitive research proposals. To help investigators nurture more productive, lasting Program Officer relationships, we compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts.

Helpful Articles Expand answer

The following articles provide insight into the Program Officer relationship and can be helpful if you are new to research or seeking fresh perspective.