These are my notes from discussion section number 3 of Harvard’s Chemistry 101: Chemical Biology Towards Precision Medicine Course, taught by Edward Harvey and Chris Gerry on September 22, 2015.

Today was a lecture on how to write an R01-style proposal. Some key take-homes:

  • We had a discussion about how to phrase a technology development or screening-oriented aim as being hypothesis-driven. One option, perhaps the best approach, is to phrase the hypothesis as being “binding of X will have Y functional outcome”, and then the process of finding a small molecule that binds X is just the first sub-aim, while functional followup is the second sub-aim. Each aim should be one hypothesis, but the sub-aims within that aim can be dependent, and can represent multiple steps towards testing the hypothesis.
  • The “Approach” should be an overall strategy including experimental methods (brief for established methods, but more detailed for anything new), analyses, data acquisition, and who will do what, and a timeline. Up to 12 pages including figures, but it is welcome to be shorter (particularly for the first draft in this class). It should be organized around your Specific Aims and rooted in precedent to establish feasibility. Include alternatives if things fail, benchmarks for success, and a description of what you’ll do if your hypothesis turns out to be wrong.
  • For the Significance, Innovation, and Approach sections, you can have one per Aim, or one overall section for each, addressing all of the aims together.
  • You must stick to the format template.