Perspective of a Researcher – Programmatic Grants in Food and Health
Valerie Tarasuk, PhD, Professor Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.
Designing programmatic research
Opportunity to tackle the BIG questions:
- Where does your field need to go?
- What is stopping it from moving forward? Core research problem
Critical attributes of the core research problem
Filling this gap must have benefits that are readily understandable and clearly important.
Addressing this research problem is a complex task, with multiple dimensions that can be pursued simultaneously – in other words, something that could not be accomplished with an operating grant.
Addressing the problem entails innovation and interdisciplinary partnerships.
Building the research program
Identification of co-investigators and partners needs to be strategic.
Each individual/partner who is named should bring unique strengths to the program, for example, research expertise, relevant research experience, stage in career, ability to facilitate needed alliances, data access, etc.
In the proposal, the relevance of each investigator and partner should be obvious.
Individual projects within program
Each project should be necessary to fully address the core research problem.
The individual projects should conceptually related and complementary to one another, but non-linear.
Together, the projects should span disciplines.
They need to be designed so as to build needed capacity and facilitate knowledge translation.
In the proposal
Build in ample start-up time for:
- Sub-grant agreements
- Ethics submissions and approvals
- Hiring and orientation of new, qualified staff
- Recruitment and orientation of new, qualified graduate students
- Meetings with your co-investigators and knowledge-user partners
And remember: you will still need time to complete whatever else you were doing before this competition came along.
Note to Primary Investigators (PI)
You have to write this proposal - all of it.
- Crafting a connected sequence of conceptually-related research projects means writing a single, cohesive document.
Only you can recruit co-investigators and relevant knowledge-user partners.
- Make time, and don’t underestimate the importance of this task.
Accept different levels of investment from co-investigators and knowledge-user partners.
- Free up as much time as you possibly can for this submission.