K Club

The K Club is designed to help junior faculty prepare NIH Career Development Awards (K Series).  The program is offered three times per year to coincide with NIH K application submission deadlines, and consists of structured reviews and feedback on grant applications by experienced faculty.

The next cycle of program registration is now available!  Click here to view an application guide.


How to Apply

Interested junior faculty members must apply to participate.  Selection for participation will be determined based on grant writing readiness, and preference will be made for faculty members in the School of Medicine.  Upon application, applicants must provide a completed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both the applicant and his or her Department Chair OR Division Chief.  Additionally, applicants must provide a brief summary of their proposal and a draft of their Specific Aims Page.  Late applications will not be considered. 

Program Timeline

Below is a general outline of the program schedule.  At the close of each registration period, participants will be contacted about scheduling the exact dates for their specific workshops. The program is time intensive; applicants should preemptively lighten their schedule to allow ample time for writing a successful grant application.  


If your NIH grant is due on...

February 12

 June 12

October 12

K Club Program Registration Period September January May
Specific Aims Workshops October February June
Significance-Innovation Workshops November March July
Full Draft for Internal Review December April August
Internal Peer Review Session mid- December mid- April mid- August


If you are preparing a grant that falls under the HIV-grant deadline cycle, please contact the Office for Research Mentoring before applying for the program, so we can discuss the best possible resource for your application.  The current program best serves those applying under the traditional deadline schedule.

Specific Aims Workshop

In these workshops, small groups of applicants will meet to review the specific aims of their application, with the objective of making them as concise and clear as possible. The Specific Aims page should be an executive summary of the whole grant. It needs to be written extremely well, because it is the one part of the grant that the majority of the study section will read. It is also used internally by NIH grant officials for making decisions about the grants to support among those whose scores fall within the fundable range. 

Program participants should bring an electronic copy of an updated specific aims page to this workshop.

Significance/Innovation Workshop

In these workshops, small groups of applicants will meet to review the significance and innovation sections of their applications. There is a saying in study section, “Nothing is worth doing well if it isn’t worth doing.” In a competitive funding climate, it is important that your significance and innovation sections clearly communicate the urgency of your research. These workshops are similar in format to the Specific Aims sessions.

Program participants should bring an electronic copy of an updated significance & innovation page to this workshop.

Career Development Plan Workshops

Fifty percent of the impact score of a grant application is based on the career development plan. Therefore, it is essential that each investigator personalizes their career plans to match their research goals. Participants will attend 1:1 sessions to receive feedback about their career development plans. Mentors will be senior faculty members who have either reviewed K awards or mentored several successful K applicants.

Effective Communication Workshop

During these sessions, you will learn how to effectively communicate your ideas and plans to grant reviewers. Led by Dr. Joanna Downer, Associate Dean for Research Development in the School of Medicine, these sessions will teach you how to apply the writing principles developed by Dr. George D. Gopen, Professor of the Practice Emeritus of the Duke University Writing Program, as well as Dr. Downer’s own tips and tricks for effectively revising your own work. Dr. Downer has extensive experience in grant writing and has contributed to the successful acquisition of a number of large center-type research grants for School of Medicine faculty.

ORM Internal Review of Draft Applications

Applicants will submit full drafts of their applications approximately two months prior to each NIH deadline date. A table with internal submission deadlines can be found below. Duke faculty members who have NIH funding experience will provide a comprehensive set of comments and suggestions, and provide a full NIH style written review. Each participant will meet with his or her reviewers to discuss feedback and ask questions.


Questions about the K Club?  Contact our office at resmen@dm.duke.edu.