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NIH Boot Camp 2019-2020

The NIH Boot Camp is a mentoring program funded by the Dean’s Office of the Arnold School of Public Health that is designed to support and increase the success rate of ASPH faculty applying for NIH Research Project Grants (R03, R21, R01).

The NIH Boot Camp is an 9-month program comprised of the following:

  • Large group events and workshops designed to provide mentees the tools and knowledge they need to be successful at developing a high-quality first submission proposal to the NIH
  • Peer group activities of approximately 3 faculty mentees and 1 faculty mentor. Mentees will share ideas and review proposals, and receive constructive feedback from peers and mentors
  • Small group work with Mentors who are faculty members with established track records of external funding and a commitment to mentoring, who will meet with and advise their assigned mentee peer group. Mentors will meet with their assigned mentees, at minimum, once per month to discuss progress on drafting grant sections and provide feedback on individual sections. The primary responsibility of the mentors is to facilitate the process of the mentee meeting deadlines and submitting an NIH application by the required date 


Program Participation Requirements

Participants agree that, if selected to be part of the NIH Boot Camp, they are required to:

  • Attend the half-day workshops, AND…
  • Meet, at minimum, once per month with their assigned Mentor, AND…
  • Achieve the Boot Camp Milestones as indicated in the timeline, AND…
  • Submit their NIH proposal developed during the Boot Camp for the June NIH Grant Cycle immediately following graduation from the Boot Camp

If you have questions about the NIH Boot Camp program, please contact Michael Beets (, 7-3003) or Alan Decho (; 7-3908).

Timeline of Events

Major dates are listed below, or review the full NIH Boot Camp timeline of events [pdf], which includes all major deadlines and milestones.

Fall 2019

Date Topic Speakers

September 20th

Introductions and Welcome
Overview of Grant Workshop - Expectations
Getting Started - NIH Reporter
NIH Mechanisms Overview (Pros/Cons)
Proposal Mechanics 1: Specific Aims

Beets, Decho


Pate, Thrasher, Turner-McGrievy

October 18th

Proposal Mechanics 2: Significance and Innovation
Statisticians and Statistics
Overview of Human Subjects, Clinical Trial Policies and Documentation


Prinz, Berger, Liese
Geraci, McLain

November 1st

Budget and Budget Justification, Sub-Contracts
Proposal Mechanics 3 – Preliminary Studies and Approach
Selecting a Study Section (Like This) and Review Panel Ins-n-Outs
Identification of Co-Investigators and Developing your Team

Fredriksson, Wilcox


Spring 2020



January 24th

DRAFT – Specific Aims DUE to Mentor

February 7th

PRESENTATION – Specific Aims (10min presentation with 5min QA)

February 21st

DRAFT – Significance and Innovation DUE to Mentor

February 28th

PRESENTATION – Significance and Innovation (10min presentation with 5min QA)

March 27th

DRAFT – Approach DUE to Mentor

April 3rd

PRESENTATION – Approach (10min presentation with 5min QA)

April 24th

FINAL DRAFT DUE to Beets/Decho

May 8th

MOCK NIH Review Panel

June 1st



Considerations for Mentee-Mentor Effectiveness

The mentee is the key driver of the mentor-mentee relationship. The more specific the mentee’s questions, the easier it is for the mentor to provide guidance. Guiding principles of the mentee-mentor relationship include an understanding that a mentee-mentor relationship:

  • Takes effort and time on the part of the mentee and the mentor
  • Requires mutual respect
  • Requires professional, responsible, and ethical conduct
  • Is a commitment by both parties for a specified interval, although it can be extended by mutual agreement
  • Can be ended at any time, by either party, in accordance with the goals set forth by the mentee

The mentee should understand the following about him/herself before entering into the mentee/mentor relationship:

  • Understand his/her values, personality, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, and limits
  • Understand his/her research goals and communicate them openly
  • Clarify his/her goals and expectations of the relationship, including a timeline for the mentorship relationship
  • Come prepared to meetings with his/her mentor (“manage up”)
  • Be willing to learn and open to criticism
  • Take the initiative
  • Follow through on commitments

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.