Ensuring Your Ideas are CRISP

So I’m meeting with a PI tomorrow about a preliminary grant concept and matching the work envisioned with the appropriate funding mechanism, sponsor, program announcement, etc., and I do what I always do as part of my homework: I checked CRISP to see if this idea was already being funded by the NIH or other federal sponsor. It is – almost to the letter – in an newly funded R21.

For those of you who need a little reminder, CRISP = Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects, a searchable database of federally funded biomedical research, training, service, and educational projects. You can search by keyword, PI, recipient institution, sponsor institute/center, mechanism, grant award number, etc. etc. Very powerful tool that I use daily (or nearly so) in the course of my work. Your program officer will appreciate that you checked CRISP before bringing your idea to him or her, and he or she will be able to help you read between the lines for potentially overlapping research.

In addition to seeing who is or has been funded for work similar to that you would like to propose, you can find potential colleagues/collaborators, potential sources of preliminary data/insight related to your work (newly funded/ongoing projects that might not have hit the meetings/journals yet), funded PIs in the same work at your own institution (critical for training & education grants as well as Center grants … and anything Roadmapesque), funding at your University from a specific sponsor (again, for big centerish and/or training grants), and much more. No dollar amounts here, but start & stop dates plus the reviewing IRG and primary funding IC. And be sure to genuflect when you come across award numbers that do not include an A1, A2, or A3 suffix (yes, Virginia, there are A3 awards … I’ll blog an explanation later) but were funded on the first submission.


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