NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp: Building a Strong Foundation for Funding Success

Join Waitlist | July 8-9, 2024 | Livestream, virtual training

The course has reached capacity! Join the waitlist for the upcoming NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp on July 8-9, 2024. 

The NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp is a two-day intensive boot camp combining lectures, hands-on activities, and discussions to demystify the NIH application process. This training will prepare participants to submit an NIH grant proposal that turns reviewers into advocates, positioning the applicant for success. 

Why take this training? Learn more here.

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Jump to: Overview | Audience & Requirements | Scholarships | Locations | Instructors | Testimonials | Registration Fees | Additional Information

Boot Camp Overview

Summer 2024 dates: Livestream, online training July 8-9, 2024; 10:00am - ~5:00pm EDT.

Federal grants, particularly from the NIH, provide a critical means of support for academic research programs. Despite the importance of this support in advancing both research and researchers’ careers, training in how to obtain grants is uneven at best. This training gap leaves many researchers struggling to learn as they go, which can introduce significant stress, delay the time to a successful application, and impact their overall productivity. The good news is that training and hands-on practice can enable you to conquer grant writing, increase your chances of receiving funding, and devote more time to moving your scientific goals forward.

The 2-day NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp: Building a Strong Foundation for Funding Success will provide comprehensive training that supplies researchers with the tools to write persuasive, effective grant proposals. Through a combination of seminars, discussions, examples, and hands-on activities, with a particular focus on navigating between-the-lines on how to tailor your proposals to grant reviewers, this training will orient you to all aspects of the academic funding process (i.e., grant writing and grant strategizing), including:

  • How to identify and apply for the right funding opportunities with the NIH (and beyond);
  • How to position your research and yourself to make reviewers your research advocates;
  • How to target your application to the right place at the right time; and
  • How to write clearly, effectively, and persuasively when telling your scientific story.

The workshop will begin with a live online seminar 2-3 weeks before the 2-day boot camp to introduce the fundamentals of drafting the Specific Aims page— that oh-so-important project overview that can ‘make or break’ the reviewers’ perception of the application.

The 2-day portion of the boot camp will cover critical topics that help you package your proposal for maximum impact:

  • What the Aims page captures, why it’s so important to get it right, and how to tackle it
  • A comprehensive introduction to NIH funding announcements and award mechanisms: What to apply for and how to apply
  • Merit review: Understanding who, what, why, and how enables you to frame your application
  • Principles of good communication: How to ‘sell’ yourself and your science
  • Psychology of grant review
  • Tackling resubmissions for ultimate success

Attendees will leave the boot camp with:

  • A foundational understanding of the NIH granting process and how it pertains to public health research
  • Hard-copy reference materials for information retention & review
  • A refined Aims page
  • A refined NIH Biosketch

One round of written feedback for a Specific Aims page will be made available to all attendees for 3 months after the boot camp, at no additional cost, further solidifying the boot camp concepts into practical skills.

Audience and Requirements

Investigators from any institution and from all career stages are welcome to attend, and we particularly encourage trainees and early-stage investigators to participate. No prior experience in preparing or submitting NIH grant applications is necessary. However, each participant should be prepared to share* and work on an NIH Specific Aims page and an NIH biosketch. Participants who have not previously written an NIH-style Aims page and/or biosketch will have an opportunity to draft their page and receive initial feedback ahead of the on-site workshop. There are no other requirements to attend the NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp.

*Hands-on activities will use participant aims pages, and we therefore request that all participants respect the confidentiality of other attendees. Any participant who prefers not to share their research ideas may create a mock aims page to use during the boot camp.


Training scholarships are available for the NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp.


Summer 2024: The NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp will be a livestream, remote training that takes place over live, online video on July 8-9, 2024 from 10am EDT - ~5pm EDT. Please note this training is not a self-paced, pre-recorded online training.  


Jessica K. Lerch, PhD, Co-Founder, CareerVolt; Founder, Significance, Innovation, Impact. Dr. Lerch earned her PhD in Neuroscience at Case Western. She then completed postdoctoral training at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami and went to a Research Assistant and then a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In late 2017, Jessica moved to a science consulting role with Eva Garland Consulting, helping small biotechnology companies and researchers across the world strategize their science to achieve over $37 million in grant funding for their R&D and early-phase clinical trial projects. Jessica started her first company, Significance, Innovation, Impact, in 2018 as a grant-writing consultant. In 2019, Jessica joined with long-time friend and colleague Dr. Sheila Cherry to launch CareerVolt, born of their shared desire to help scientists succeed in their career paths by filling skills gaps and supporting attainment of professional goals.

Sarah Bronson, PhD, Research Leadership and Success Consultant, CareerVolt. Dr. Bronson received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, and was a postdoctoral trainee with Oliver Smithies, DPhil at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Sarah spent her entire faculty career at the Penn State College of Medicine where she was a researcher, educator, and administrator. She is now an emeritus associate professor and associate dean. She was the co-director (2010-2020) of the nationally recognized Junior Faculty Development Program where she developed a holistic program that teased out the steps to scholarly project development as well as the path toward a sustainable and rewarding career. She was also a co-director for the Grants Academy, with a more specific focus on grant proposal development. As Director of Research Development (2014-2023) she implemented the internal awards program and the limited submission process.


"Having zero experience in grant writing, this boot camp exceeded my expectations! This was a great overview and I learned so much. This will serve as a tool as I prepare to think about my future research career. It was offered just in time for me to prepare with time for a grant application. I am definitely recommending this to cofellows interested in a research career." - Fellow at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2023

"The boot camp was an eye opener and worth every penny paid. The course work, the facilitators Jessica and April were amazing, and time management was top notch." - Clinician at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, 2023

"I looked forward to this boot camp each day! The leaders were so knowledgable and helpful and truly able to answer all of our questions. I walked away knowing so much more about this very complex and stressful process. It eased anxiety and the mystery of it all." - Postdoc fellow at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Brain Injury Research Center, 2023

Additional Testimonials

"This course offered an opportunity to to dive deep into the craftmanship of grant writing. The course directors would provide simplified examples of grant writing strategies and give attendees an opportunity to directly apply them to an existing grant. I highly recommend this course!" - Postdoc at Harvard Medical School, 2022

"I really appreciated this boot camp. I wish I would have had this training when I was just beginning my career/right out of fellowship. The training gave a better understanding of the different grant types, better understanding of the NIH review, and how to write each section of the typical NIH application." - Faculty member at Indiana University, 2022

"What I found helpful is that their presentations and activities are designed around steps and process of writing and submitting the grant and how to think of this process from a reviewer perspective. It helps to connect dots for me between forms, tools, and actual writing." - Postdoc at University of Colorado School of Medicine, 2022

"It was quite enlightening and the instructors were engaging. Definitely worth the investment." - Staff member at APIN Public Health Initiatives, 2022

"The NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp gave me insight I otherwise would've been without. The organizers did an excellent job keeping the material unique and provided a lot of examples based on actual writing." - Student at University of Arizona, 2022

"This boot camp was excellent and a great way to formally learn the grant process. I would highly recommend this to other early career researchers who are starting to consider applying to NIH." - Faculty member at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 2021

"The training opened my eyes to the need for, and how to take a systematic approach to creating a quality grant application as well as prepared me to productively receive criticism for my applications in the future." - Postdoc at National University of Natural Medicine, 2021

"A thorough and balanced-pace workshop to feel ready to write an NIH grant for the first time. For someone who doesn't have time to spend on a semester-long course yet covers just as much, if not more, than other courses." - Postdoc at University of Pittsburgh, 2021

"This was excellent training.  I wish that I could have attended this years ago." - Faculty member at Jackson State University

"It was eye opening and took the mystique off of grant writing. There was virtually an answer to everything which was quite empowering!" - Research staff member at Rutgers University, 2021

"This is an engaging and interactive learning experience where you get hands-on experience writing, editing, and reviewing NIH Biosketches and Aims Pages. You will walk away prepared to send your documents to a NIH Program Officer and get going on your next grant proposal!" - Faculty member at Wake Forest University, 2020 virtual training

"It exceeded my expectations. Usually classes like this are dull, but it was engaging and actually imparted useful material." - Faculty member at New York University, 2020 virtual training

"This grant writing training gave a ton of practical tips along with real examples that helped me see how to apply those tips." - Academic Staff member at UNC Chapel Hill, 2020 virtual training

"I was extremely surprised overall by the depth of detail and new information the leaders provided. The leaders broke down the most challenging pieces of grant writing into manageable components." - Postdoc at VA Boston Healthcare System, 2020 virtual training

"Excellent workshop!  I highly recommend it to both new and seasoned investigators." - Faculty member at East Carolina University, 2020 virtual training

"It provides a comprehensive insight into the structure of a winning NIH grant. Emphasis on the specific aims section was valuable at several levels and will definitely improve one's chances of being awarded an NIH grant." - Postdoc at Oregon State University, 2020 virtual training

"This was a comprehensive and high-quality program on how to craft a competitive grant." - Faculty member at the University of Washington, 2020 virtual training

"I am actually excited to go back and apply what I've learned to future applications as well as other scientific writing. The presenters really broke down the elements and re-framed the entire process so it feels doable; and funding seems achievable." - Faculty member at University of New Mexico, 2020 virtual training

"The grant writing workshop provided a great tips to help me prepare a competitive grant. After the 2-day session, I feel confident that I can submit a well polished grant proposal that will stand out among the others." - Postdoc at Moffitt Cancer Center, 2020 virtual training

Registration Fees

  Early-Bird Rate (through 5/10/24) Regular Rate (5/11/24 - 7/1/24) Columbia Discount*
Student/Postdoc/Trainee     $995 $1,195 10%
Faculty/Academic Staff/Non-Profit Organizations/Government Agencies  $1,195 $1,395 10%
Corporate/For-Profit Organizations $1,395 $1,595 NA


*Columbia Discount: This discount is valid for any active student, postdoc, staff, or faculty at Columbia University. If paying by credit card, use your Columbia email address during the registration process to automatically have the discount applied. If paying by internal transfer within Columbia, submit this Columbia Internal Transfer Request form to receive further instructions. Please note: filling out this form is not the same as registering for a training and does not guarantee a training seat.  

Invoice Payment: If you would prefer to pay by invoice/check, please submit this Invoice Request form to receive further instructions. Please note: filling out this form is not the same as registering for a training and does not guarantee a training seat.

Registration Fee: This fee includes course material, which will be made available to all participants both during and after the conclusion of the training.

Cancellations: Cancellation notices must be received via email at least 30 days prior to the training start date in order to receive a full refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Cancellation notices received via email 14-29 days prior to the training will receive a 75% refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Please email your cancellation notice to Due to workshop capacity and preparation, we regret that we are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations <14days prior to the training.

If you are unable to attend the training, we encourage you to send a substitute within the same registration category. Please inform us of the substitute via email at least one week prior to the training to include them on attendee communications, updated registration forms, and materials. Should the substitute fall within a different registration category your credit card will be credited/charged respectively. Please email substitute inquiries to In the event Columbia must cancel the event, your registration fee will be fully refunded.

Additional Information

The NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp is hosted by Columbia University's SHARP Program in the Mailman School of Public Health.

Jump to: Overview | Audience & Requirements | Scholarships | Locations | Instructors | Testimonials | Registration Fees | Additional Information