Complex Research Grants

Our Scope

The Office of Research Development facilitates development of complex research grant proposals led by faculty at the Duke School of Medicine. Complex proposals typically have multiple projects and/or multiple cores (e.g., NIH P01, P30, P50, U19, and U54 mechanisms), although application structures vary depending on the funding organization. If in doubt, please ask.

Our Methods

We work with the Principal Investigator(s), their grant manager, and the rest of the research team to ensure that the proposal meets all program requirements, both in terms of scientific content and application format. In partnership with the team, we help ensure that a high quality application is prepared and submitted. We can:

  • draft a timeline that identifies all required sections, responsible parties, and deadlines to ensure timely submission of a first rate application;
  • identify additional team members to fill gaps in expertise required by the opportunity;
  • ensure the scientific proposal meets the funder’s intent and requirements;
  • manage and review application sections such as biosketches, resources pages, and letters of support;
  • provide templates for scientific sections and drafts of non-scientific sections such as Administrative Cores, Management Plans, and Pilot Programs;
  • work magic to fit text into page limits.

The Five C's. Our ultimate goal is to help the team submit a proposal that meets the five “Cs”: Clear, Compelling, Consistent, Concise, and Complete. We provide critical review and editing of both scientific and non-scientific sections. Our editing provides:

  • a fresh set of eyes and excruciating attention to detail to catch errors, inconsistencies, and out-of-date information,
  • attention to non-scientific sections to ensure high quality across the entire application,
  • organization of each section to help reviewers understand the proposed work and find necessary information quickly, and
  • a clear and compelling message about the work and its expected impact.

If a PI or team doesn’t need our comprehensive services, as time allows we can still review and/or edit applications for the five Cs.

When to Contact Us

The earlier, the better. The more we know about the proposed work, the better able we are to ensure clear, compelling, and consistent text. However, many teams we work with have just 9-12 weeks between RFA release and grant submission – depending on our other commitments, we can help a team that’s “all in” submit a high quality application in that timeframe. Teams are not required to use our services, but we are available to all School of Medicine faculty leading complex grant proposals on a first-come, first-served basis.

How to Contact Us

Please contact Joanna Downer, PhD, Associate Dean for Research Development, as soon as possible if you are considering responding to a complex grant opportunity and are interested in our support: or (919) 681-8272.