Beyond the Bench

Last fall, nearly 100 Stowers researchers attended a full day of presentations about a topic almost as important as their science—writing successful grant applications.

Most of the attendees at the "Write Winning Grant Proposals" workshop were predoctoral or postdoctoral researchers. "The Institute actively supports the professional development of trainees," explains Michelle Lewallen, PhD, grants information manager. "Our trainees will be with us for only a few years. When they take their next career step, many of them will have to compete for research funding. We want them to know how to write a successful grant application."

The Institute encourages postdocs to apply for fellowships in order to gain valuable grant writing experience with the benefit of having a mentor to provide guidance. In addition, obtaining a competitive fellowship award is a mark of distinction and an important step toward independence for young scientists.

The Stowers Institute is one of a few scientific institutions that uses its endowment as primary support for its research programs. However, faculty members are free to apply for external funding if they wish to expand their research programs beyond the support provided by the Institute. Thus, Lewallen was not surprised that several investigators attended the workshop.

Stowers researchers who attended the workshop applauded the presentations and the speaker, David Morrison, PhD. "I found the workshop very helpful, particularly since I am in the process of writing my first grants," says Assistant Investigator Nicolas Rohner, PhD. "The presentations specifically addressed every step in the process and highlighted the 'do's and don'ts' with many distinct and detailed examples."

Postdoctoral Researcher Stacey Hanlon, PhD, reveals that the workshop "gave me insight on how to structure a grant as well as submit it to the funding agency to maximize its chance of success."

"The instruction provided in the presentations and the information in the handouts and workbook are invaluable," Hanlon adds. "I will be able to immediately use what I learned for my postdoctoral grant submissions. My career goal is to become a research professor. To support a lab, I will likely need to write grants several times a year."

By supporting the professional development of its scientists, the Stowers Institute is helping to develop the next generation of successful scientists—an investment with long-lasting and far-reaching benefits.