R-Series Boot Camp: Mentee Information

Mentees of the R-Series Boot Camp are grouped into small teams where specialized training, guidance, and camaraderie all aid in the development of a competitive NIH R-Series proposal over this 10-month program. Participation is limited to faculty members who have not yet been Principal Investigators on R-Series grants.


Applications will open in the Fall of 2019.

Benefits of Becoming a Mentee

Work with coaches and peers to assess your competitiveness using the research roadmap.

Learn how to present your well-conceptualized grant idea persuasively — which is usually a combination of “offense” and “defense”.

  • Learn what reviewers are looking for when they evaluate an R01 proposal. Know what to expect and be prepared! Anticipate weaknesses/criticisms and deflect with well-prepared justifications.
  • Identify the best study section to review your proposal.
  • With the help of your coach and peers, prepare for an interview with your Program Officer.
  • Become a reviewer of your peers’ proposals to role-play the perspective of the reviewers.
  • Prepare and present a Chalk Talk in your department to receive expert feedback on your Specific Aims.
  • In one of the large group sessions you will learn from widely-acclaimed experts at Grant Writers’ Seminars about how to “Write Winning Grant Proposals” with a focus on NIH. We will provide you with their workbook, The Grant Application Writer’s Workbook (NIH version), at no cost ($75 value).

Meet other new investigators from other departments and fields. These small groups will foster camaraderie, stimulate research ideas, and encourage transdisciplinary and translational research.


  • Who is eligible and how does the selection process work?
  • Participation is limited to faculty members who have not yet been Principal Investigators on R-Series grants. Participants should be ready to submit an R-series application within one year, i.e., should already have well-conceptualized specific aims, preliminary data, and foundational funding prior to starting the program.

    Applications will be vetted by a group of R-Series Boot Camp coaches, applicants will be interviewed, and Department Chairs will provide final approval.

    While we expect most applicants will be early career faculty members, this is not a requirement.

  • Why should I join?
  • By signing up for the R-Series Boot Camp as a mentee, you will receive:

    ○ Specialized Training: Enhance your ability to prepare a more impactful and competitive R01 proposal; get 1:1 mentorship from subject matter experts in your research area; meet new potential collaborators in your field
    ○ Guidance: Assess your strengths and build a research plan to become recognized in your field; learn about NIH policies and best practices from mentors with strong track records of NIH funding
    ○ Camaraderie: Connect with interdisciplinary peers and experts and jumpstart your research funding; expand your network of colleagues

  • What is the involvement of a mentee, including the time commitment?
  • You will be expected to attend several large group events/workshops (e.g., grant writing workshop, Mock Review, budget workshop); monthly small-group team meetings (you and your coaches and peers will decide the times); and meet with your own subject matter expert (who will have specialized insight into your scientific field of study). Your department will help schedule a Chalk Talk, where you can present and hone your aims.

    The mentee is expected to attend large group events on specific dates.

    In between large group events, and as part of your monthly small group meetings, you will:

    ○ be led through exercises to identify the skills and resources you need to be competitive,
    ○ devise a plan to obtain those skills and resources,
    ○ write and refine the sections of a R01 project description, and
    ○ receive feedback throughout the development process.
    ○ Before submission, we will pay a non-UM reviewer to critique your draft before you send your proposal to NIH.

  • What will you achieve in this program?
  • At the completion of the program, you will have:

    ○ A plan to fortify your research skills and resources
    ○ A competitive, well-reviewed R01 (or equivalent) grant application. Together with your coaches and subject matter experts, you will determine a realistic deadline for your R01 submission, and will agree to submit by that deadline
    ○ Working in small interdisciplinary groups of faculty members will offer additional benefits of learning about other scientific fields and technologies, developing new perspectives, possibly enriching your own study, and providing potential research collaborators

  • What is the deadline for a mentee to submit their application?
  • The deadline for any R-Series proposal submission will be between October 5, 2018 and February 5, 2019 as determined by the mentee, coach, and subject matter experts.

    Earlier deadlines will vary from mentee to mentee depending on the status of the research program, preliminary data, and the proposal draft. Submission is a requirement of the program and will be verified by the Office of Research.

  • Why work in small groups?
  • Small group peer mentoring fosters camaraderie, support, and cooperation. Several articles have described the success of peer mentoring in medical schools (e.g., Johnson KS, Hastings SN, Purser JL, Whitson, HE. 2011. The Junior Faculty Laboratory: An innovative model of peer mentoring; Academic Medicine, Vol. 86, No. 12).

    An additional benefit is stimulation of interdisciplinary and translational research. We will assign 4-8 faculty members who share some scientific commonality with the coaches (e.g., clinical research, chronic health conditions, etc.), but who come from different departments and represent different scientific perspectives, disciplines, or methodologies.

    While coaches are only committed to attending one small group meeting per month, the members of the small group may decide to meet more often on their own.

  • How do I apply?
  • Mentee applications for the 2019 Cohort of R01 Boot Camp will become available in the fall of 2019 on this page.


If you have any questions about the R-Series Boot Camp program, contact Grace Morris at grace.morris@uconn.edu.