Since 1887, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been leading the battle against disease by funding thousands of biomedical research projects. In that regard, the NIH has made strong progress in many different sectors such as cancer, mental illnesses, heart disease, diabetes and numerous other health concerns.
The Research Project Grant (R01) is the primary grant mechanism used by NIH to support individual laboratories in medical research and development. An R01 application can be initiated by the investigator or solicited through a request for application, i.e., specific NIH initiatives against particular public health problems. Over the years, numerous NIH-funded researchers have received recognition of their work, including a number of Nobel Prizes. NIH invests over $30 billion per year in funding research that enhances health, reduces disability and illnesses, and lengthens life. To that end, the NIH has been pursuing its mission of promoting prevention and treatment, and expanding biomedical knowledge bases by facilitating cutting-edge research and contributing to the biomedical workforce.
Today, Americans are living longer, babies are being born healthier, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease are less deadly, advances in cancer treatment have been realized, drug abuse and addictions have been much better understood, and the death rate has dropped by more than 43%, since 1969. Those are but a few of the medical advancements that NIH funding has provided over the years (1).
At an individual laboratory level, NIH R01 grants have helped researchers, scientists, and students advance their academic and career goals. For better or worse, medical promotion and academic success remain strongly dependent on the quality and amount of NIH grants received.
Overall, we can confidently mention that NIH R01 grants have massively contributed to medical advancements in key areas that affect our daily lives. To better appreciate this, let’s take a quick look at a sample of the latest successful NIH-funded projects.
1. Cell-Based Phenotypic Testing Technology by Biolog
The start-up biotechnology company, Biolog (Hayward, CA), successfully applied and received funding from the NIH, among other institutions, to research and develop a Phenotype MicroArray® technology. This technology is used to scan cell physiology and allow researchers to see how cell functions change when certain parameters are altered, over time. Starting out, the company had plenty of ideas but didn’t have money for them. The SBIR/STTR program then funded most of the technology and product development, resulting in an innovative product for cell assay. The cell phenotyping technology developed by Biolog is currently being used by research labs in different fields such as cancer, infectious disease, and neuroscience. Without the SBIR/STTR program funding, this innovation would have never seen the light of day (2).
2. A Non-toxic Approach that Limits Rodent Reproduction by SenesTech
SenesTech (Flagstaff, AZ) is an innovative company that was largely funded by NIH SBIR grants. This company offers a patented technology solution that limits rodent fertility in an environmentally-friendly and non-lethal way. Branded as ContraPest®, the rodent bait causes both male and female rats to become infertile permanently, once they have consumed an effective dose orally.
Considering that a two rat-mating pair can produce about 15 million descendants, within their 8-12 month lifespan, this product can offer a long-term solution for sustainably managing rodent populations. It has now been approved in all 50 states, and used extensively in Chicago. When used directly, this product has no negative effects to humans or other animal species (3).
3. GentleSharp® and TubeClear® –minimally invasive medical devices by Actuated Medical
SBIR funding has been instrumental in researching and developing Actuated Medical’s (Bellefonte, PA) two flagship products; GentleSharp and TubeClear. TubeClear® was their first product after receiving phase I and II SBIRs. Using proprietary motion technology, TubeClear helps doctors clear clogged decompression and feeding tubes while the tube is still in the patient. This eliminates the risk and expense of tube replacement.
GentleSharp® is another product that was funded by SBIR grants and is available in the market to offer a more humane blood sampling kit for animal research. This tool utilizes low–frequency microvibrations, aimed at helping needles to glide smoothly into tissue, requiring less force and reducing stress, when taking blood samples (4).
In addition to these, there exist thousands of such other projects, products and medical innovations that have been funded by NIH R01 and SBIR grants. Such innovations are improving the efficiency and quality of medical services, and literally saving lives.
Importance of writing quality of NIH grant proposals
While NIH grants have all these benefits, with a tremendous positive impact toward medical advancements, both the number and amount of grants awarded each year have been declining over the years, relative to the number of applicants (5). In that regard, it is becoming continually difficult for researchers and scientists to successfully obtain NIH grants, due to declining funds, competitive markets, and low acceptance rates.
Grant Writing format for a quality and objective NIH grant proposal has therefore become more important than in the previous years. Grant reviewers receive thousands of equally well-written, objective proposals that you need to out-compete.
If you don’t have the time, experience, or access to the necessary information and tools for writing a compelling NIH grant proposal, it’s important that you seek professional help. A professional grant writing service will help you solidify your research idea, research the necessary information, and properly structure your proposal, while walking your through every step of the way –you don’t have to struggle on your own.