Secrets from the Review Panel – February 2019

The Neutrino Donut recently completed several review panels for grants for DoD and NIH. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. There is a large group of people in the room. Each person has different expertise and different expectations on evaluations. All members comment on specific aspects (science, statistics, commercialization, regulator planning, ethics, user reactions) and rate the overall process.
  2. Score variants between members are generally limited, based upon the discussion. These score variants are discussed as well to understand the issues.
  3. Conflict of interests are aggressively managed.
  4. The suggestion a competing grant winner was able to block your idea is simply not true. There are too many people in the process. Your idea didn’t make it on merit.
  5. There are a limited number of winners. Even if you have a good idea, that may not be enough. You have to be a winner amongst the winners.
  6. We read the applications. Boy, do we ever. We recognize cutting and pasting from other grants, spelling mistakes, incorrect references, and so forth. Grant language which may not be appropriate which has been copied is noticed. It may not hurt, but it doesn’t help. See the winner amongst winner comment above.
  7. Read the feedback. A lot of time goes into the writing and it is designed to provide guidance on re-submitting your grant. You have a group of serious experts giving your idea feedback.
  8. On the DoD grant review, vets are included in the sessions. Their comments have been key to the success of a grant. So, talk to the consumers of your product about your idea. Meditation is a great idea until you are trying to implement the program to someone who is on active duty in a battle zone. Patients can’t smoke at Walter Reed. Prosthesis which do not have ball bearing problems are a good thing. Things I learned recently…
  9. As the commercialization expert, this is a weak spot for grant writers. Get someone who has taken similar technologies to the marketplace to be part of your team. Not a family friend, but a real player. Universities are filled with entrepreneurship programs.
  10. Figure out the IP early on and decide how you want to manage the process. Don’t write it off.
  11. Look at commercial opportunities for your technologies. The concussion marketplace has many opportunities outside the military. These commercial relationships will advance your research and provide more funding. What is not to like?

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