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R21 Deadline

Today is the FINAL day for me draft before we send the R21 proposal off for internal review. Technically I think we have all day tomorrow too, but I need to get this back to my Co-PI for review and his final edits before we can submit it. The good news is the scientific writer was very thorough with their edits and suggestions, the bad news is I told my Co-PI I would get it back to him tonight before realizing how much there was to do!

One more time from the top, I’m a third year neuroengineering PhD candidate. This blog is my daily notebook of my journey through the program and let’s face it a little bit of what I do in my freetime (woodworking… mostly). I’ve been studying the effect spinal cord injury has on communication between the brain and spinal cord. I’m even developing a “super secret” technique which I talk about, but not really since it’s super secret and all. However, I need funding! Which brings us to today’s post.

The first fellowship I was awarded was two years. It was awarded basically since I’ve been daily blogging, so about two years ago! At the beginning of fall I need to get myself some money! My two PI’s decided I should attempt to write a grant, which became two, which became two grants, an NDSEG fellowship and a K99/R00 fellowship. Basically I’m writing until my eyes bleed or I get some of that sweet, swee research money, whichever comes first. Hopefully it’s funding, but that’s just me, I like being able to afford to eat.

Now how did I get here? Well, the R21 grant at least involved doing some experiments of my own. That was nice because my “super secret” technique is new, controversial (at least with my Co-PI), and I really didn’t want to get funding to explore something only to find out it didn’t work. Granted, that’s science, but it would really not be something I wanted to do.

This is where I point out once again, I’m a PhD candidate, not a PI. Grants are written and submitted by PI’s and ever students, so my name will go nowhere near this grant. My two PI’s both see the promise in my technique so we’re writing a grant for each and whoever gets funded gets to lay first claim to the technique. Since I’m a student the truth is, it’s not REALLY just my technique, it goes to one of my PI’s and there has been some friction about who gets to have their name on it.

That’s not to say it’s not mine, just that it’s also attached to one of their labs. In short, they put their name on the proposal, take all the risk, and get part of the claim to the technique. It’s not a bad thing, it means I have very little responsibility if I fail. I’m free to explore without fear of ruining my future prospects. If it goes well, then we both benefit, it’s a mutually shared reward. That’s the difference between being a student and a PI, the PI is the person responsible for making sure the project gets done and deals with the fallout if it doesn’t get done.

Today is the last day for me to finish the edits for my second proposal because it’s due on the 15th of this month (so in a week exactly). We need to submit it for internal evaluation at the hospital tomorrow, so it needs to be done today on my end, tomorrow for my Co-PI since he gets the final stamp of approval on it. This is normal in research, everything gets done up to the last minute, no matter what we’re doing.

We sent our paper off to a scientific writer to review just a few days ago and it was returned thoroughly marked up. I’ve got my work cut out for me today since I promised to have it returned to my Co-PI by this evening. Note to fellow PhD’ers out there, don’t promise something until you’ve seen what you’re doing first! Only semi-serious (very serious!).

That’s the recap, where we are now, and where we’re going. The good news is this will (probably) be the last time you hear about my R21 grant proposal until we find out what the reviewers have to say about it. It also means I can finally turn my attention to other projects and things I’ve been putting off because of the urgency of the grant. Remember, time management is important or you’ll drowned, I know because I almost did during my masters!

Now that I have my thoughts out on virtual paper, I’m ready to get some work done. So far I’ve managed to hit every goal we’ve set for this proposal and I don’t plan on stopping now.


One response

  1. Pingback: The long data processing road | Lunatic Laboratories

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