Bio254/Neurobio254: Guidelines for Grant Proposals


The final for Bio254/Neurobio254, in the form of a grant proposal, is due Friday December 10, 2008 at Egle Cekanaviciute’s desk (MSLS 2nd floor, P257) by 11:30 AM PST.  Your proposal cannot be related to your laboratory work.


In general, a grant proposal answers the following questions:

1) What do you intend to do?

2) Why is the work important?

3) What has already been done?

4) How are you going to do the work?

5) What do you expect to see, and why?

6) What alternative approaches will you use, should the techniques not work or you get different results than expected?


General outline of grant proposal:

1. Specific Aims. Usually one paragraph summary of the long-term objective, the background and the specific research aims. The paragraph should be followed by a list of specific aims 1-3, which lists the discrete questions and steps to reach the goal of the grant. Recommendation: 1 page.

2. Background and Significance. In this section spell out why is the work you propose interesting, and what is known in general about the question you intend to address. Recommendation: 2 pages.

3. Preliminary Studies. In a real grant application, this is supposed to be what the applicant has accomplished that would allow him/her to conduct the work s/he proposes to do. In this mock grant proposal (for which you will only receive mock money), you can list the work that has been done that is immediately relevant to the work you propose (say from a single laboratory in the last 2-3 years and pretend that's yours). Don't overlap with what is written in part 2. Recommendation: 2 pages.

4. Experimental Plan. This is the most important part in your test. You should divide this part according to specific aims. In each of these sections, first describe your plan to address the question using experimental design that is specific and feasible; then discuss what are the possible outcomes and pitfalls. If aim 2 relies on the positive results of aim 1, you need to discuss what would you do if Aim 1 is not achieved. Recommendation: 5 pages.

All page recommendations are based on single spaced text, with margins at least 1”, and font at least Times 12 pt. References are separate.

Additional tips for writing a grant proposal:


The key to this mental exercise is to select a topic that is narrow enough that you can formulate specific questions and by answering them would significantly advance the field. You should choose an area that is relatively heavily investigated so that people have built tools for you to analyze the problems. Good luck!