The Proposal Preparation Program: A Group Mentoring, Faculty Development Model to Facilitate the Submission and Funding of NIH Grant Applications

Anne Marie Weber-Main, Kimberly A. Thomas-Pollei, John Grabowski, Clifford J. Steer, Paul D Thuras, Matt G. Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article describes the University of Minnesota Medical School Proposal Preparation Program (P3). P3 is designed to develop grant-writing skills for assistant professors preparing their first K- or R-series application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Three 4-month P3 cycles are conducted annually. For each cycle, a cohort of around 10 assistant professor participants and 5 regular faculty mentors meet for ten ∼2-hour group sessions. Participants receive iterative oral and written feedback on their proposals in development within a small, interdisciplinary, group mentoring setting providing structure, accountability, guidance, and support. Between sessions, 1 peer and 1 mentor are assigned (on a rotating basis) to critique each participant's developing application. The sessions include a brief mentor-led presentation on a particular grant section followed by discussion of each participant's application conducted by the assigned reviewers. The cycle concludes with a mock NIH review session, in which each participant is matched with a University of Minnesota faculty content expert who critiques their completed application using NIH guidelines. In a survey sent to all past P3 participants as of 2018 (n = 194), 88% of respondents reported having submitted their P3-developed NIH grant, and 35% of these submitters reported funding success. A separate analysis of institutional data for all past P3 participants as of 2016 (n = 165) showed that 73% submitted at least 1 NIH proposal since completing P3 and that 43% of these had acquired NIH funding, for a combined total of $193 million in funding awarded. The estimated rate at which participants obtained funding for their P3-developed grant application (∼35%) exceeds the national annual NIH grant funding rates (∼20%) by approximately 50%. This article provides the practical information needed for other institutions to implement a P3-like program and presents a cost-benefit analysis showing the advantages of doing so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support: This work was supported by the Department of Medicine and Office of Faculty Affairs at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


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