This Friday, entire forests will be delivered to CSR in the form of T32 grant applications – the dreaded Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards Institutional Research Training Grants. Why dreaded? Have fun with these tables from NIGMS. Or these from NHLBI. Or these from NIAID.
But first, make sure you should even be considering one of these proposals. The T32 mechanism is meant to leverage an existing well-funded research program (i.e., lots of R01 & P-type awards) into a means of training the next generation of biomedical researchers. No R01/P01 funding, no grounds for T32 support. The T32 isn’t meant to support training where no foundation of independently funded research projects exists.
Even if you think you have the requisite number, duration, and diversity of R01 awards in your field, you need to chat with the appropriate contact person for this mechanism in your IC of choice. Not all ICs are looking to fund new T32 programs right now, so this conversation could save you a lot of time and aggravation (those aforementioned tables). Be sure to check out what other T32s are funded at your institution – any hint of overlap will send an IC running. Check also to see what dates applications will be accepted by your IC du jour. May 25 is the big submission date, but some proposals (i.e., only predoc or postdoc programs) are welcomed by some ICs on Jan 25 and Sept 25.
Now, assuming your IC contact gave you the green light, do the damn tables first. These tell most of the story, particularly the funding base of the program faculty (most if not all mentors/sponsors need to have an active R01 that extends well beyond the start date for your T32 award) and the track record of past trainees. You must be able to demonstrate that your faculty can & have already helped pre- and postdoctoral trainees move on to productive (i.e., capable of securing their own grant awards) academic (versus private practice) careers. So, you need a multidisciplinary faculty with funded projects and track records of turning out grant-getting biomedical researchers. (okay, I can already hear drugmonkey saying that this is just what we need – more well-trained investigators competing for limited research funding) Oh, and you need a career development plan that involves more than indentured servitude. Piece of cake. Bon appetit!