Grants Administration Working Group

Working Group Description:
The Grants Administration Working Group addresses a wide range of operational issues of concern to funders of health research and training.  The group offers periodic webinars on topics of interest and plans roundtable discussions on grants administration topics that are held at HRA Members’ Meetings. Past topics considered by the group have included: dealing with overlapping grant support, pre-award processes, and alternatives to face-to-face peer review meetings

In 2018, the Grants Administration Working Group is being chaired by:

  • Katrina Bandong, Program Associate for Medical Research, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • Joan New, Grants Manager, Autism Speaks
  • Melanie Turner, Senior Manager, Research Operations, American Heart Association


Transparency, Recognition and Innovation in Peer Review in the Life Sciences – February 7-9, 2018

ASAPbio, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Wellcome Trust held a meeting to discuss the merits of transparent peer review. If is desirable, how can it be implemented and what might be barriers to adoption?  The agenda and links to the slides and talks can be found here.

My executive summary and my much longer summary are available, as are all the presentations via the ASAPBio site.  Some of the many recommendations include:

  • Move to a system where peer review reports are attached to the article
  • Funder’s should acknowledge applicants’ and grantees’ peer review as the scholarly contribution to science that is it.

One of the meeting outcomes: HHMI and CZI are teaming up to support experiments in enhancing peer review – details to come.

American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Council of Member Societies and Organizations 2016 Meeting

AIBS hosted a meeting Titled “The Role of Peer Review in Informed Decision-making.”  The meeting tackled questions such as:

  • Do we know what we need to know about peer review?
  • Does peer review meet the needs of the modern publication system?
  • How effectively does peer review identify the best research proposals?
  • Is peer review properly incentivized and are reviewers being asked to evaluate the right things?

Betsy Myers from DDCF was a panelist at this meeting.  You can read her piece called Foundations and Peer Review: Time to Reconsider the Process?  You can also download the full report from the meeting, Peer Review: A System Under Stress, for more information.  Similar to the ASAPBio meeting, participants called for acknowledging and incentivizing peer review activity.  In addition, there was a call for more data to inform best practices – which should result from the HHMI-CZI-supported experiments.  Stay tuned.

How HRA Members Conduct Scientific Peer Review:  Report on the August 2008 HRA Survey  

In 2008, HRA members participate in a survey of our peer review practices.  The results of the survey were meant to assist HRA members in understanding the normative practices within the medical research funding sector.

Please see many discussion related to peer-review from the old Listerv page.

  • Analysis of users of grants management software.
  • 6/30/2105:  Webinar offering on the Review Process.  Please click on each presenters name to see their slides.
    • Committee structure and recruitment:
    • Instruction:
    • Workload:
      • Debbie McCoy-Massey, Sr. Manager of Operations, Extramural Research, American Cancer Society
      • Danielle Popow, Grants Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
    • Benefits/Payments for reviewers:
  • 11/6/2014:  Webinar offering: “From RFP to New Grantee: People and processes from announcement to funded project.” Three member organizations agree to share their organizations’ methods for generating new grants from RFP’s, to marketing, receiving applications, review, selection and providing funding for the new project.  Thanks to Sindy, Amy and Carolyn for your time!
    • Sindy Escobar Alvarez, Ph.D., Program Officer for Medical Research, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation presented on DDCF’s Innovations in Clinical Research Awards (ICRA). The ICRA program provides seed funding for innovative clinical research projects to stimulate the development of novel approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat human disease.  Slides from Sindy’s presentation can be found here.
    • Amy Laster, Ph.D., Director, Grants and Award Programs, Foundation Fighting Blindness presented on the Gund-Harrington Initiative for Fighting Blindness which is a newly launched program by FFB with the purpose of providing enhanced translational support that includes not only funding but a team of experts that will provide experienced pharmaceutical oversight to Gund-Harrington Scholars to ensure that the most promising opportunities enter the clinic.  Slides from Amy’s presentation can be found here.
    • Carolyn Ricci, Manager, Avon Foundation for Women presented on the Avon Foundation Global Breast Cancer Clinical Scholars Program which provides clinically-focused scholarship opportunities for breast cancer specialists from medically underserved countries to receive advanced training at leading U.S. cancer centers.  Slides from Carolyn’s presentation can be found here.
  • 3/19/2014:  Kirsty Meddings, Product Manager for CrossRef, presented a webinar introducing FundRef, a service that provides a central, standardized way of reporting funding sources for published scholarly research.  Created by CrossRef, a non-profit, independent organization formed by leading scholarly publishers, FundRef was launched in 2013.  Slides to the webinar are available here.
  • 12/12/2013:  HRA thanks Kim Moreland, former president of the National Council of  University Research Administrators and currently Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her excellent presentation on working with university offices of sponsored research. Slides are available here.
  • In the summer of 2013, the HRA Grants Administration Working Group organized a series of webinars to hear from grants management software vendors. The series was planned by a subcommittee of the working group consisting of:
    • Deborah Crabtree, AACR Foundation for the Prevention and Cure of Cancer, and Working Group Co-Chair
    • Kathy Brown, Lymphoma Research Foundation, and Working Group Co-Chair
    • Joan New, Autism Speaks
    • Leslie Engel, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
    • Priya Selvakumar, American Diabetes Association

    The vendors agreed that HRA could record the webinars and also that HRA could post their slides as pdfs. Below are the links to materials from these webinars:

    • Fluxx Labs (08/22/2013) – The final webinar in this series was presented by Peter Byer, VP of Sales and Marketing and Kerrin Mitchell, COO of Fluxx Labs. Background slides and a recording of the webinar are now posted. Responses by Fluxx Labs to the questions posed during the webinar can be found here .
    • Proposal Central (08/15/2013) – Jamie McKee, Director, Grants Management Operations from Altum presented the third webinar in this series. A recording of the presentation is here.
    • Foundant (08/08/2013) – The second grants management software demonstration was presented by Daren Nordhagen, President and Lynsey Monaco, Regional Sales Director of Foundant Technologies. Slides and a recording recording are now available.
    • SmartSimple (7/25/3013) – In the first of our grants management software demonstration webinars, Teresa Clark, Director of Research Solutions and David Resnick, Product Marketing Manager from SmartSimple presented their product. Slides can be found here and a recording of the webinar is now accessible here . SmartSimple has also submitted responses to questions that were posed in the webinar.
  • 7/10/2013 – Ethan O. Perlstein, Ph.D., formerly of Princeton University, and now an independent scientist who also consults with crowdfunding sites presented an “Introduction to Crowdfunding” webinar. Dr. Perlstein, who has used crowdfunding for his lab and who has also presented on crowdfunding for AAAS and other audiences, gave an overview of “crowdfunding basics,” discussed crowdfunding from the scientist’s perspective, and explored whether and how not-for-profit funders can use crowdfunding.
    Slides from the webinar are now available.
  •  2/11/2013 – Joint webinar offering of the HRA Discovery Science and Grants Administration Working Groups: “Using rigorous classification of funded research to communicate research strategy and to inform scientific management of the research portfolio.”HRA would like to thank Stephanie Reffey, Ph.D., Director, Research Evaluation and Nicole Willmarth, Ph.D., Manager, Scientific Grants Administration from Susan G. Komen for the Cure for an excellent presentation. Slides  from the webinar are now available.
  • 1/19/2012 Working Group Webinar on the use of patient advocates in the review process: The Working Group hosted a webinar that was open to the HRA membership on the use of patient advocates/laypeople in the review process. Several HRA member organizations have rich experience in this area to offer. Presenters included:
    • Marie Nierras, Ph.D., Senior Director, International Partnerships & Cure Therapeutics, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (slides can be found here)
    • Kenly Belt, Constituent Engagement Manager, Extramural Grants Department, American Cancer Society (slides can be found here)
    • Victoria Wolodzko, Managing Director, Grants Administration and Kendall Bergman, Program Manager, Sicentific Programs, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (slides can be found here)
    • Anita Miller Sostek, Ph.D., Vice President for Scientific Review and Operations, Autism Speaks (slides can be found here)
  • 12/15/2011 Working Group Meeting: At the December working group meeting, Pat Hinton, American Heart Association, presented a “Top Ten Strategies for Managing Boards” (which turned into a top thirteen list with additional input from the group) in discussing how to deal with common issues in working with review boards composed of volunteer physicians and scientists. Thanks to Pat and the American Heart Association for this excellent list!
  • 9/30/2011 Working Group Meeting:The Working Group met in conjunction with the September Members’ Meeting, with an agenda convening a panel discussion about the many ways that funders track awardees and alumni to facilitate program evaluation. See the presentations from the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the American Heart Association, and Autism Speaks.Thanks to Cathy Obits, The Gerber Foundation for providing notes.
  • Resources from the 7/21/2011 webinar on the appropriate use of stories in evaluation: HRA thanks Dr. Richard A. Krueger, Professor Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Evaluation Studies, University of Minnesota, for a thought-provoking presentation on the use of stories in evaluation on July 21. Dr. Krueger has been generous in sharing his slides as well as a chapter, “Stories for evaluation,” he authored for the 2010 textbook, Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation, edited by J. Wholey, H. Hatry and K. Newcomer and published by Jossey-Bass.
  • News from the December 2, 2010 HRA webinar on open access: There was broad participation in the December webinar on how funders can encourage wider access to publications resulting from the research they fund. Sophia Colamarino, Ph.D., Vice President, Research for Autism Speaks and Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, made excellent presentations, followed by a discussion led by Paul Muhlrad, Ph.D., Director of Basic Research and Elizabeth Habeeb-Louks, Project Manager, Muscular Dystrophy Association. The webinar was moderated by Pat Hinton, Director of Research Administration for the American Heart Association and Chair of the HRA Grants Administration Working Group. The webinar resulted in recommendations of possible action items for HRA.





Pre-2011 resources from the Grants Administration Working Group:

Individual Development Plans:
At the January 2007 Advisory Committee meeting, members met to consider whether and how funders should encourage the use of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in the mentoring of postdoctoral fellows and early career investigators. Click here for a summary of that discussion that includes links to IDP information as well as sample wording from one member’s award documents.

Mentoring Resources Posted by the Mentoring Subgroup
Mentoring is such a key concern of HRA member organizations that a subset of the Grants Administration Working Group has focused specifically on this issue: what defines good mentoring, how funders can encourage the mentoring of their awardees, how funders can encourage their awardees to become good mentors themselves, and best practices in designing mentored research awards. Posted below are a variety of resources the Mentoring Subgroup has produced, collected, and/or researched on the topic of mentoring.

1. General resources:

2. Information from the session on mentoring at the 2006 HRA National Conference:
As an outgrowth of the interest by members of the Health Research Alliance in the mentoring of early career investigators, a session that focused on this topic was included in the HRA National Conference in 2006. The session goal was to develop consensus on the characteristics of good mentoring and how to evaluate the mentoring component of grants for early career researchers. Through three presentations, the participants learned about definitions and measures of successful mentoring, and suggestions for more effective mentoring programs and awards. The satisfaction of the individual being mentored was highlighted by each of the presenters as an important aspect to consider in supporting or evaluating a mentoring program. The second portion of the session was an interactive exercise that captured a preliminary list of good mentoring practices. The presenters’ slides are posted below as downloadable pdfs. You may also wish to read the proceedings from the session starting on page 47 of the 2006 HRA Conference Proceedings.

3. Information on mentoring from the September, 2006 Members’ Meeting:
At the September, 2006 HRA Advisory Committee meeting, the Mentoring Subgroup convened a working session to examine mentored research awards, to begin to define common outcome measures for those awards, and to explore methods of tracking and measuring those outcomes. Following are two presentations from that session:

4. Earlier work on mentoring by HRA:
In March, 2005, the group met to consider the issue of how funders can encourage and support the mentoring of early career investigators. The notes from this session provide a number of links to documents on issues related to this topic.

Reviewer Conflict of Interest policies
In December, 2004, the Grants Administration Working Group met to consider and compare reviewer conflict of interest policies and procedures used by different funders. Posted below is a summary of the policies that were collected in early 2005, plus a summary in table form of how different organizations handle different reviewer COI situations. These summaries are followed by the specific documents submitted by member organizations in 2005.

1. Summaries

2. Documents submitted by member organizations:

Is there an issue you think the Grants Administration Interest Group should explore? Please email HRA so that we can put your suggestion in the pool to be considered for the queue of topics to be considered by the Grants Administration Interest Group.