Planning for your first R01 application can be daunting. Even for seasoned investigators, it takes time and requires sufficient preparation. Early-stage investigators can find needed support by utilizing resources from the ICTS throughout their grant submission process.
Recently funded by the National Institute on Aging with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ICTS members, Sarah Hartz, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and Jessica Mozersky, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Bioethics Research Center, Washington University School of Medicine, utilized several ICTS resources while preparing to submit their joint R01 grant, “Returning Research Results that Indicate Risk of Alzheimer Disease to Healthy Participants in Longitudinal Studies.”
For Hartz, the process started back in 2016 when she applied for a pilot grant about returning results to research participants from the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) at Washington University. Coincidentally, Mozersky was simultaneously working on returning PET amyloid research results to healthy individuals at another institution prior to joining WashU in February, 2017. “My proposal was funded by the ADRC in June of 2017,” recalls Hartz. “I had met Jessica when she interviewed in 2016 and was excited to bring her on the project with me.” Through their collaboration here, the two early-career investigators decided to combine their distinct skills to start building a joint R01 submission. “Sarah jokes that we are like the Wonder Twins,” commented Mozersky. “By bringing together Sarah’s clinical and quantitative background with my bioethical and qualitative skills, we were able to make our proposal really take off.”
The current R01 process started for the team in July, 2018 with an aims review, facilitated by the Precision Medicine function of the ICTS. With the aims complete, the team then applied and received an award through the ICTS’ Just-In-Time (JIT) Core Usage Funding Program. Designed to provide quick funding to utilize ICTS cores, Hartz and Mozersky used this award to obtain data necessary to further develop the R01. “The JIT award was key to funding additional resources from the Dissemination and Implementation Research Core (DIRC) that helped us refine our D&I aim,” commented Mozersky. Mozersky and Hartz also made use of an initial statistical consultation, fully subsidized by the ICTS, from the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Core (BERD), services they considered essential to developing and refining their study design. A formal ethics review then followed, provided by the Bioethics Research Center, a core service of the ICTS.
From here, the team submitted their draft to a Research Forum Mock Review in December, 2018. Featuring a roundtable session, a group of subject-level experts shared their feedback on their project. ICTS Research Forum Program Director and Associate Professor of Medicine, Elizabeth Keath, PhD, helped to curate a group of experts specific to the multi-disciplinary approach of the grant. “We assembled a team of outstanding experts across multiple fields – imaging, patient-participatory research, implementation science, research design in vulnerable populations – to genuinely ‘kick the tires’ on this grant,” recalls Keath. “The Research Forum is an amazingly productive, give-and-take interactive session that gets at the heart of barriers to the conduct of translational research, in the ‘Room Where It Happens.’”
The team submitted their grant on Feb 1, 2019, followed by a review on June 19, 2019. The final notice of award was received on January 22, 2020 for a five-year, $3.4 million grant funded by the National Institute on Aging with the NIH. Hartz and Mozersky delivered a R01 grant funded on first submission, no easy feat for two early-career applicants. “This was the first grant I’ve submitted where I felt I went through the right process by tapping the resources available to me as an early-career investigator,” Hartz reflected. “You have to plan in order to take advantage of what the ICTS has to offer. When you do, it can make a real difference.”