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Writing your Specific Aims GHS workshop February 24, 2014 Martie Thompson, Ph.D. Research Professor, Clemson University

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Presentation on theme: "Writing your Specific Aims GHS workshop February 24, 2014 Martie Thompson, Ph.D. Research Professor, Clemson University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing your Specific Aims GHS workshop February 24, 2014 Martie Thompson, Ph.D. Research Professor, Clemson University

2 Will need to do more planning than writing Always consider review criteria: – NSF: Intellectual merit, broader impacts – NIH: Significance, innovation, approach, team, and environment – IES: Significance, Research Plan, Personnel, and Resources Topic must be significant and have potential impact Critical first step-understand agency’s mission - be able to articulate how your proposed research will advance the agency’s mission Familiarize yourself with review process and gear proposal accordingly Must be feasible: Limit scope so aims will be realistically achievable within requested time frame 2

3 Overview Section Most important section of application Every funding agency has one: NIH calls it the “Specific Aims”; NSF calls it “Overview and Objectives” Serves as template for rest of your proposal May be only thing that all but 3 reviewers read Write it first 3

4 Overview section Four paragraphs: o 1 st - Identify need: convince reviewers that there is a problem relevant to their mission o 2 nd - Outline solution from long-range goal, to this proposal’s objective, to your central hypothesis and rationale o 3 rd - Approach o 4 th - Payoff to funding agency 4

5 Writing Specific Aims 1 page Focus on two-four aims Don’t be overly ambitious – objectives must be feasible Aims should be hypothesis-driven: Most proposals set out to test a hypothesis rather than simply collect information on a problem; Choose a hypothesis that is well-focused and testable Each aim should be approximately equal with respect to the amount of work it will entail and the importance it has to the project. The aims must flow logically, BUT none can be absolutely dependent on an expected outcome of an earlier aim.

6 Specific Aims: Paragraph One Opening Sentence(s) – Highlight significance Important Knowns – Explain the current situation and set the scene for presenting the gap. Addressing the Gap- A sentence that clearly articulates how your research is going to advance the field. Framing the Gap As A Problem – Show how this gap prevents the field from advancing. M ake sure goal is to know something specific Sexual violence (SV) is a prevalent public health problem, resulting in both psychological and physical harm. Prevalence and risk factor studies have yielded important information about SV. However, knowledge gaps exist regarding (1) if distinct longitudinal trajectories of SV behaviors for youth transitioning into young adulthood can be identified and (2) what factors differentiate youth who follow these different paths. In order to intervene effectively to prevent SV, research is first needed to determine what factors predict the onset, maintenance, escalation, or desistance of SV behaviors during the transition to young adulthood.

7 Specific Aims: Paragraph One Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is central to the maintenance of homeostasis, as well as to host defense against a variety of pathogenic microorganisms and tumor cells. In addition, it can have an active role in the pathogenesis of a number of diseases. IFN-γ mediates all of these effects through a single binding protein (the α subunit of the IFN-γ-receptor complex), which is present on the surfaces of all normal nucleated cell types (Granger & Coe, 1994). While it is known that the binding protein initiates signal transduction (Yu, 2000), and it is understood mechanistically how it does so (Griffin et al., 2004; Campbell, 2008), what is not clear is how this critically important protein is produced. Lack of such knowledge is an important problem, because, without it, acquiring the ability to modulate the number of receptors on cells pharmacologically is highly unlikely.

8 Specific Aims: Paragraph Two Long-Term Goal – Define continuum of your research and a clear linkage between this project and the gap you are trying to fill. Objective – Explain what you hope to accomplish with this application and how it relates to your long-term goal. o Example of a poorly stated objective: “Our objective in this application is to study the effects of sexual violence on women’s psychological health.” o Don’t use terms like: study, explore, better understand… as they convey indeterminate endpoints o Use terms such as determine, develop..

9 Specific Aims: Paragraph Two Central hypothesis: must be testable. Rationale –Explain how this research advance the field o This is the underlying reason you choose to pursue this project. o Must relate to the critical need and mission of funding agency Research Team & Environment – Explain how your team uniquely qualified to conduct this research Our long-term goal is to glean information that will guide the development of preventive interventions for college males at risk for engaging in chronic SV behaviors. The objectives of this prospective investigation are to use latent growth mixture modeling to determine the longitudinal trajectories of SV behaviors during college and to use the Theory of Triadic Influence to guide the assessment of intrapersonal, social/situational, and cultural/environmental influences on the different trajectories. The proposed research is based on the need to identify these distinct trajectories of SV behaviors and to determine what risk factors affect SV trajectories. Our research team is particularly poised to undertake this investigation. This research would extend a currently- funded NIH study on SV among male college students during their first two years in college for two additional years, as well as enhance our efforts to involve students in health-related research.

10 Specific Aims: Paragraph Two Our long-term goal is to understand how the receptor IFN-γ can be manipulated for preventive and therapeutic purposes. The objective here, which is our next step in pursuit of that goal, is to determine how production of the receptor’s α subunit is regulated transcriptionally. Our central hypothesis is that both constitutive and stimulated regulation are required through different sets of cis-acting response elements in the gene’s promoter. Our hypothesis has been formulated on the basis of our own preliminary data produced using the promoter that we recently cloned (Galaway et al., 2008; see Justification and Feasibility sub-subsection under Research Strategy- Approach). In addition, the work of Adams & Seagram (2008) is supportive of the hypothesis. The rationale for the proposed research is that, once it is known how transcription of the α chain’s gene is regulated, production of the subunit can likely be manipulated either up or down pharmacologically, resulting in new and innovative approaches to the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases.

11 Specific Aims: Paragraph Three List your Aims here. There should be a hypothesis for each aim. Describe how hypothesis will be tested (avoid technical detail). Convince the reviewer that the aim will be accomplished. The overall objectives of this proposal will be accomplished by pursuing the following specific aims: (1) To identify classes of growth trajectories of males ’ SV behavior over the course of their four years in college. To address this aim, we will determine whether SV trajectories reflect if many different men on rare occasions are engaging in SV behaviors, or rather, if the majority of unwanted sexual encounters are perpetrated by a small subset of individuals. It is hypothesized that at least three latent classes of SV exist – a high SV class characterized by consistent SV behaviors, a no/low SV class characterized by consistently low or no SV behaviors, and a mixed SV class characterized by intermittent SV. (2) To determine the relative importance of intrapersonal, social/situational, and cultural/environmental correlates in predicting the different SV trajectories. To address this aim, we will….It is hypothesized that………

12 Specific Aims: Paragraph Three We plan to test our central hypothesis and, thereby, accomplish the objective of this application by pursuing the following two specific aims: 1.Identify the DNA response elements that regulate constitutive transcription of the subunit’s gene. Based on the preliminary data referred to above, our working hypothesis is that one or more Sp1 sites are critical to the regulation of constitutive transcription. 2. Determine how stimulated transcription is up-regulated by different stimuli. We postulate, again on the basis of our preliminary data, that cyclic AMP response elements (e.g., CRE and AP-2) regulate stimulated transcription of the subunit’s gene, regardless of how stimulated transcription is activate.

13 Specific Aims: Paragraph 4 Innovation –Make case for why research is innovative. Expected Outcomes – What are expected outcomes of your study? Impact – How are expected outcomes are going to have a positive impact once the acquired knowledge from your research is applied This study is innovative in that we will identify a subset of males who follow a trajectory of high SV behaviors and the risk factors that are prevalent among this class of individuals. The findings will advance the field by increasing understanding of how SV behavior changes over time and what predicts trajectory class membership, which will ultimately inform the design of preventive interventions for SV.

14 Specific Aims: Paragraph 4 With respect to expected outcomes, the work proposed in aims 1 and 2 is expected to identify the full complement of response elements and the cognate transcription factors that are responsible for constitutive and stimulated transcription of the subunit’s gene. Such results are expected to have an important positive impact, because the identified components are highly likely to provide new targets for preventive and therapeutic interventions in addition to fundamentally advancing the fields of receptor biology and immunotherapy, as will now be detailed in the next section.


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