Services for Individual Investigators

Our Scope

The Office of Research Development provides consultation and editing services for individual research grants to Duke School of Medicine faculty under three circumstances: (1) the individual is put forward by the department chair or division chief; (2) the individual is a recipient of Bridge Funding from the School of Medicine; (3) the individual has participated in a complex grant that we have facilitated.

While we have scientific backgrounds, our efforts focus on helping individual investigators achieve an effective presentation that conveys clarity of thought and allows reviewers to easily grasp the proposed work and its impact. We can be especially valuable in helping investigators respond effectively to reviewer critiques.

Our Methods

When we consult with a Principal Investigator on an individual grant, we provide advice on programmatic intent, content, organization, and presentation. For resubmissions, we also can interpret reviewer criticisms and advise on how to best address them. We are adept at identifying underlying organizational problems – such as an imbalanced presentation or a lack of subheadings – that may contribute to reviewer confusion. In consultations, our goal is to guide the investigator through their own revision of their proposal.

Our editing provides:

  • a fresh set of eyes and excruciating attention to detail to catch errors, inconsistencies, and leaps of logic in the text,
  • organization to aid reviewers’ understanding and help them find necessary information quickly,
  • a clear and compelling message about the work and its impact, and
  • assistance fitting text into page limits.

Our ultimate goal is to help each PI submit a proposal that responds effectively to reviewer concerns and that meets the five “Cs”: Clear, Compelling, Consistent, Concise, and Complete.

When to Contact Us

We need 2-3 weeks in which we can work on the application (when no one else is simultaneously commenting on or editing it). We advise getting the application to us at least 4-5 weeks before submission deadline. At this time, our limit is two faculty members per regular-sized department, and two faculty per division for large departments (Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Surgery). Feel free to contact Joanna Downer to see if your division or department has already used its allotted slots for individual investigator support.

How to Contact Us

Please contact Joanna Downer, PhD, Associate Dean for Research Development, if you are interested in our support: or (919) 681-8272.