How do you get your research funded when more than 80% of proposals don’t make the cut?

If you’ve ever sweated over a big grant proposal for months, only to have it rank juuuuust outside the funding cutoff—you know how brutal that feels, especially when your job is on the line.

It’s rough out there. NIH and CIHR's overall success rates were under 20% for 2017. These competitions are fierce. And it’s been like that for years. 

So how do you get your research funded? 

I mean, aside from having a brilliant study design? (Which you do, of course. But good study design and expert co-investigators are just what get you in the door. You need to knock their socks off if you want to win the big bucks.) 

So…how do you do that?

You write a barn burner of a grant proposal. 

You write with a buckle-your-seatbelts attitude—and you back it up with brains. 

You write a clear, compelling, unforgettable grant proposal. Sounds weird (and impossible), I get it. But THAT’s how you get funded—I know, because I’ve done it over and over again with colleagues and clients.

Listen: even a rock-solid study design will get a big ol’ MEH from reviewers if it’s boring. Or badly explained. Or so thick with jargon you could serve it with those fancy crackers. 

Luckily there are plenty of techniques you can use to tart up your proposal. (And not in a rolling-a-turd-in-glitter kinda way…that doesn’t work.)

The techniques aren’t rocket science…but since nobody really teaches this stuff to researchers, you probably never got any formal training on how to do it. (Don’t get me started: it drives me bonkers that most universities think that writing well is something you should “just know” how to do.)

Argh. Now I’m feeling rage-y.

So. If you know your proposal could be sexier but you have no idea how to fix it…

Guess who can help you with that?

(You’re smart. You only get one guess.)


Don’t worry. I’m a serious person.

Don’t worry. I’m a serious person.

I’ve been advising health researchers on grant writing for more than a decade. I’ve helped them win millions of dollars in grant funding, mostly in big competitions with success rates under 20%. I specialize in NIH R01 grants and CIHR Project Grants, both by working one-on-one as a consultant and editor, and as a grant writing instructor for programs and departments. 

I know how to make your proposal stand out to reviewers. I can either teach you how to do it, or do it for you.

Don't learn the hard way. Or…do? Whatever. You know all about trial and error. But if you want to save the trial and error for your research, think about getting help with your grant writing from someone who knows how to get you closer to the pot of money that everyone else is after.

Are you writing an NIH grant proposal in 2019?

Are you writing a CIHR project grant proposal in 2019?

I struggle with finding time to write my grant proposal while maintaining my clinical practice. My co-investigators are also busy clinician-researchers, and it’s hard to get a thorough review from them on a deadline. Sarah gave me the prompt feedback and big-picture editing I needed, while also keeping me organized and on track. It was so helpful to have a professional grant editor from outside of our field and outside of our research group look at the grant with fresh eyes and give constructive criticism. She recommended a major structural revision to my R01 proposal, which I was able to execute within 8 weeks. The end product was vastly improved.
— MD MPH FACS, Vanderbilt University (funded R01)