Conferences, symposiums, and meetings for research, clinical and other health professionals are a great way to exchange information, set research strategy for a disease, and network. These events often cost a large sum of money which is why Lisa Schoyer from RASopathies Network shared her tips and tricks for applying for an R13 conference grant. Sebastian Druehl, REN’s intern, helped add some additional insights and links.
What is an R13?
The R13 is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant that helps fund scientific conferences, seminars, symposiums, and other scientific meetings that are relevant to NIH’s mission and beneficial for public health.
Why is the R13 Worth the Time?
There are many advantages to receiving an R13 grant for both your organization as well as the researchers and others attending the event. The grant is like a scientific stamp of approval that can be used to attract more scientists as well as funders. The attraction of more people means a more efficient distribution of scientific information and improved professional networking for researchers and organization leaders. Finally, maybe the most obvious benefit of this grant, is that it can cover a significant portion of the costs of organizing a meeting.
What Can and Can’t the Grant be Used for?
Even though these grants typically award between $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000, up to $50,000 can be awarded. With this money does come some restrictions. The grant does not fund overhead and cannot go toward purchasing any equipment, food, or beverages. It can be used to fund speakers' travel (needs to be carefully justified if out-of-country) and room and board. Also, it can cover printing, rentals like AV equipment (even if it's more than purchasing it!), poster display stands, and miscellaneous office supplies. Even in the online world we are living in, there are multiple ways the money can be used whether it is for more advanced software or any other digital tools to execute an online conference.
When to Apply:
This grant is offered regularly, 3 times a year (w/deadlines April 12, August 12, December 12). Be sure to plan ahead as the final decision can come as much as five months after you submit your initial application
How to Apply:
The first step is to find a researcher or two to help you build an agenda and write the scientific information for the grant. YOU will be key (ideally, as editor) in making sure what's written can be understood by grant reviewers who aren't familiar with your syndrome or whatever science is known related to your syndrome. One of the best ways to identify potential scientific meeting partners, if you don't know any, is by doing a literature search in PubMed, a database of sciences and an array of biomedical topics, and contacting the authors.
Next, there are a number of steep-but-navigable steps that need to be made before your first application.
a) Eligibility to apply for the R13;
b) the process for applying for the grant;
c) how to track the grant; and
d) when grant funds will be received if successful.
A few key steps:
First Meet the administrative requirements for applying for a grant.
Get a Dun and Bradstreet University Numbering System.
Register with the System for Award Management (SAM) to do business with the government.
Create an account on Grants.gov and set up E-Business Point of Contact (EBiz POC). At a minimum, the following need to be assigned (which can be the same person):
SO (Signing Official) who signs the grant on submission, and who can assign other roles
AOR (Authorized Organization Representative)
PI (Principal Investigator)
Track role request status on Grants.gov.
2. To identify which Institute to apply to, ask the authors of the publications about your syndrome if any of them have or had received an NIH grant for the work they've done/are doing on your syndrome, because you may be able to build on an existing relationship. If not, no loss, enlist them to help you plan the ideal meeting.The primary Institute is unlikely to provide all the funds you need, so the R13 allows applicants to go to other Institutes and convey how the proposed meeting will meet their mission. The message to these other Institutes is, "We are applying for an R13 scientific meeting grant, and believe our agenda is a good fit with your Institute's mission. Would you consider secondary assignment if we get a good score on our grant? I can forward our preliminary agenda to you for your review."
3. Next: with your scientific advisors/chairs, build your agenda, and invite potential speakers. You don't have to do it this way, but the more confirmed speakers you have by the time you submit your grant, the stronger the interpretation of your commitment.
4. The budget for your meeting is a very important section of the application. You just need to clearly justify why each line item is there.
5. Aim to submit at least a week before the deadline, just in case you run into any last-minute problems! If you do encounter any problems, contact the Help Lines and they will work hard to help you - either answering your question directly, or identifying where you should go.
6. After you submit the grant, you will wait for a review committee to convene and score your proposal, and then another committee. The smaller the number (10 being the smallest, and I think 100's the top limit), the better. Used to be if the score was under 20, you've got an excellent score, and your chances to meet your budget request is met, but we've been living in odd times. Even if you have a bad score, never give up! Getting the primary institute to fund you then gives you the opportunity to go to the other Institutes you asked for "secondary assignment" just before your application, to see if they still have funds.
For even more details and help on how to apply visit the SF424 application instructions, or even try to view a successful grant application. The R13 grant application may seem complicated at first, but at the end of the twisting road is a great reward, and you and your organization will reap the benefits should you receive this grant. Also see Rasopathies Network R13 Checklist. Note - certain details of Rasopathies Network Checklist may be out of date at the time of reading because aspects such as acceptable fonts and guide to formatting attachments tend to change over time.
Addendum from Lisa Schoyer:
I and another organization have just learned that R13 funding does need to meet Federal Conflict of Interest (FCOI) rules. This requires the organization with which the principal investigators of the grant are connected to, to be in compliance with the rules. The organization must have an FCOI Policy posted on their website, and ensure that their principal investigators have gone through the FCOI training and received their certification for having gone through the training, as well as signing a Conflict of Interest Form, each which has its own rules for when they need to be reviewed, recertified, and updated (for example, the COI form needs to be signed annually).
The link to the training can be found here
A sample of an FCOI form can be found here --note that the FCOI has a reference to the bylaws, so the bylaws should be updated to include managing FCOI.
A huge thanks to Lisa Schoyer for contributing to this blog!
Lisa Schoyer is the mom of Quin Johnson, who had Costello syndrome (HRAS G12S) and died in 2002 at 6-1/2 years old, of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (eRMS) related to the syndrome. She is founder and President of the RASopathies Network USA.
Lisa also is a trustee of the International Costello Syndrome Support Group (ICSSG), as well as Past President and Past Secretary for the American Costello Syndrome Family Network (CSFN).
Lisa partnered with Katherine A. Rauen, MD, PhD to produce the 1st International Costello Syndrome Symposium in Portland, OR, 2007; and the 2009 Scientific meeting on the genetic syndromes of the Ras/MAPK pathway: From bedside to bench and back, in Berkeley, CA. In 2011, she partnered with Bruce Gelb, MD, to produce the 2nd International meeting on genetic syndromes of the Ras/MAPK Pathway: Finding our way back to the bedside. In 2013, Lisa worked with Bruce Korf, MD, PhD, on the 3rd International meeting on genetic syndromes of the Ras/MAPK Pathway: Towards a therapeutic approach, in Orlando, Florida. For the 2015 4th International RASoapathies Symposium, and the 2017 5th International RASopathies Symposium, Lisa was the Principal Investigator.
Though trained as a professor of studio art, after Quin died, she was hired by the County of Los Angeles first as Chief of Family Support at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s program for children with special needs (2003-2009), and currently for the County’s Department of Mental Health in the Prevention Bureau/Family and Community Partnerships Unit where her passion is helping mental health clinicians provide appropriate mental health services for those with I/DD.
Also thanks to Sebastian Druehl for Contributing to this blog!