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


NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp - Columbia University SHARP TrainingCourse is at capacity! Join the waitlist for the next live-stream NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp: July 19-20, 2021.

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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Summer 2021 dates: Live-stream, online training July 19-20, 2021; 11:00am - ~6:00pm 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 in-person program 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 in-person portion of the workshop 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, 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 workshop, at no additional cost, further solidifying the workshop concepts into practical skills.

Investigators at 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 prerequisites to attend the NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp.

*Some hands-on activities may 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 workshop.


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


COVID-19 Update: The NIH Grant Writing Boot Camp will no longer take place in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The training will instead be a live-stream, remote training that takes place over live, online video on July 19-20, 2021 from 11am EDT - ~6pm EDT. Please note this training is not a self-paced, pre-recorded online training.  


Sheila M. Cherry, PhD, Founder, Fresh Eyes Editing. Dr. Cherry completed a PhD in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University in 2006, where she studied chromosome segregation in mammalian germ cells. She pursued postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in dissecting genetic contributions to congenital heart defects in the context of Down syndrome. During that time, she also helped create and teach a course on Effective Scientific Communication. Following that initial foray into teaching other scientists to better communicate their science, Sheila launched Fresh Eyes Editing in 2009. In their first decade in operation, Fresh Eyes helped researchers in the U.S. to win over $220 million in federal funding alone. While the Fresh Eyes team provides editing services and writing support for a variety of science-related documents and presentations for scientists on six continents, Sheila specializes in grant proposals—by both consulting and editing, as well as presenting workshops on grant writing, online writing intensives, and 1-on-1 training.

April R.S. Gocha, PhD, Senior Editor, Fresh Eyes Editing. Dr. Gocha is senior editor and writer at Fresh Eyes Editing. She earned a PhD in Integrated Biomedical Science from The Ohio State University. After studying the various alternative mechanisms involved in telomere elongation in human cancer cells for her doctoral work, April pursued her career in science communications. She joined Fresh Eyes as an Editor in 2012, and became a Senior Editor in 2018. April contributes her expertise, along with excellent writing and communications skills, on manuscripts and grant proposals across a wide range of topics.


"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


COVID-19 Update: With the training being offered virtually, we are passing along any and all costs saved to attendees.

  Early-Bird Rate (through 5/15/21) Regular Rate (5/16/21 - 7/13/21) Columbia Discount*
Student/Postdoc/Trainee     $875 $975 10%
Faculty/Academic Staff/Non-Profit Organizations   $975  $1,175 10%
Corporate/For-Profit Organizations $1,175 $1,375 NA

*Columbia Discount: This discount is valid for any active student, postdoc, staff, or faculty at Columbia University. To access the CU discount, email for instructions. For Columbia employees, please specify if you are paying by credit card, or internal transfer within Columbia.

Invoice Payment and Group Registrations: If you would prefer to pay by invoice/check, or would like to pay for a group of registrants, please email with details.

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. 




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Questions? Email the Boot Camp team here.

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