Sarah Dobson

 

So…what do you do?

I help researchers write more competitive grant proposals so they can get funded, focus on their research, and advance their careers.


I help them get funded by making their grant proposals clear, persuasive, and strategic. I work mostly with PIs in clinical and biomedical sciences who are applying for big CIHR and NIH grants. Since I started my business in 2016 I’ve helped PIs win more than $13.5 Million in operating funds, and I have a success rate of 42% - double the success rate at NIH and triple the success rate at CIHR.

NIH Grant Review

I work with scrappy, passionate, brilliant people. People who are driven by curiosity (and—let’s face it—a sometimes self-destructive need to achieve). People who have, like, seven different jobs because they're so good that people keep asking them to do more. People who don't buy into the stuffy, hierarchical part of academia—they just live with it so they can nerd out on their own stuff.

If grant writing is something that frustrates the crap out of you, takes up too much time, or isn’t getting you the results you want: I can help. I can suggest where to tweak your writing to make the biggest impact. I can pick apart what you've written and help make sure it has the best chance of getting funded or published. I can take your sh*tty first draft and do some wordsmithing so that you not only sound like a genius, but your study idea sounds exciting and crucial—so exciting that you get an enthusiastic YES from reviewers (this actually happened to a client of mine). I'm a big believer in keeping writing clear, simple, and strategic—that's how I help my clients, and that’s how their grants get an edge over the competition and win the big bucks.

I do my best to make my job (and my interactions with clients) as as fun and informal as possible, because honestly? Grant writing is HARD. The least I can do is make the experience as painless as possible. But don’t be fooled: the writing part, the advice I offer, is as serious and professional as it gets.

If that's your style, we'll get on like a house on fire.


I’m gonna need to see something more profesh before I can trust you with my grant.

 

That’s fair. May I suggest my fancy-pants bio?

Or testimonials from happy clients?

Or my 42% success rate (57% for NIH)? High School Overachiever Sarah is horrified that I scored 42% on something, but she doesn’t even know that this is an actual job, so.

Here’s the thing, though: we might not be a great fit. I’m dead serious about (and very good at) the actual work I do, and I definitely don’t screw around when it comes to deadlines. But otherwise? I’m a human person who left a pretty sweet gig in academia because I found it to be WAY too traditional and hierarchical and unwelcoming.

If you’re turned off by my style, or if you believe that I couldn’t possibly improve your grant because I’m not a subject matter expert in your area, then you’ve already decided that I can’t help you. And I’m not going to tap dance on the dining room table to try to convince you otherwise.

So let’s not waste any more of our time, shall we?

But if you like my style and you know that outside eyes on your writing can actually help you: congrats! You’re right, and you’re in the right place.


I’m still here, so you might as well tell me some random facts about yourself.


Great! Challenge: Accepted.


  1. I’ve been a Grade-A bookworm since childhood. Check out this photo of me walking uphill reading a book:

This is me, circa 1993 (in Italy), more interested in my book than the scenery. I wish I could tell you that I was reading Mark Twain or Shakespeare, but it's probably VC Andrews. (You might also notice that I’m currently rocking the same hairstyle I did way back in 1993. What can I say? I was ahead of my time.)

2. I started nerding out on editing when I worked at Incite Magazine (it did NOT look that cool in the nineties. Bravo, Incite). I'm still such a nerd about it that I'm a member of Editors Canada.

3. I read cookbooks cover to cover, like they're novels. I also read a lot of novels. Ask me what you should read next!

4. I'm a medical marvel: I have an ultra-rare illness that has led to five brain surgeries (so far). I’ve been written up as a case report in a medical journal. For realz. (Ask me about having emergency brain surgery while on vacation in NYC. Also for realz.)

5. I'm the co-founder of a scrappy little non-profit called Basics for Health

6. I ride my bicycle(s) every chance I get. Before I started my own business, my daily round-trip bike commute was more than 30 km (that’s 19 miles for the ‘Muricans). Now I work from home, so my commute is 0 km (that’s, um, 0 miles).

7. I'm happiest in the woods. Camping, hiking, backcountry skiing—if it's self-propelled and among the trees, sign me up.

8. I'm an Air Force Brat. My dad was in the Canadian military and I spent most of my childhood moving across Canada and Europe. Then I got sick of moving and went to boarding school (fun fact: boarding school was less strict than living with my parents).

9. I was a huge theatre nerd in high school. Oh, and also in law school. Did I mention I'm a law school dropout? (Yep: I quit McGill Law in 2004)

10. I'm a free spirit trapped in the body of a Type-A overachiever. Like, for example, after I quit law school (free spirit), I did my graduate population health research degree in French (overachiever. Duh.).

BONUS FACT: I host a podcast! It has nothing to do with grant writing (thank F), and everything to do with figuring out what it means not to become a mother. It's called Maybe Someday. You should listen! You'll love it.

 

So…how can I work with you?

Heck yeah! Let’s get you some grant funding.

I have grant review packages (and deadlines) for standard NIH R01 and CIHR Project Grant applications. If you’re working on something else, just let me know.

Schedule a call to tell me about your research and we’ll work on a plan to tighten up your grant proposal.

I can’t wait to work with you!