Cyber Monday Banner

5 Keys To Writing A Shared Instrument Grant

I’m a scientist, not Perry Mason. I’m not a defense attorney or a detective.

Why would I say that? Because well before March grant writers need to be a Perry Mason – make the case and defend it to have a successful Shared Instrument Grant (SIG). For those running core facilities (or Shared Resource Laboratories), then March is a critical time of the year, and we’re not talking basketball.

A grant is a true story. This year’s deadline is March 21. It’s critically important in this tight funding climate to make sure nothing moves your grant from the “must-fund” to the “next” pile. The most important piece of any story, and a grant is a story, is the first 50 words.  The first line of the grant has to provoke the sense of urgency on why this grant needs to be funded.  After those 50 words, everything is justification.

Like Perry Mason, a case must be built, a solid argument with a single conclusion: the instrument is critical to the continued success of the institution and that the institution will be a good steward of the funds that will go to purchase the equipment. SIG grants follow a formula, and there are some critical expectations you need to check off to move to the Final Fourand get funded.

1. Address Biosafety

If a cell sorter is on the list, make sure the grant has addressed the recommendations from the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) biosafety taskforce about cell sorting. And as per all grants, make sure to have a letter from the institutional biosafety officer.

2. Engage Major Users

The major users bring the grant to life.  Three users are needed with P01, R01, U01, R35, R37, DPI or DP2 level funding. The limit is 8-10 users. While NIH allows up to 6 pages, the reviewers will appreciate fewer pages tightly focused on the critical components.  Work with your major users until you can articulately highlight their research, the limitations of their current technology, and how a new instrument will enhance or speed up their research. For each accessory, list 3 users who need it and spell out why they need it.

3. Know What You Want

Make sure you and your users know the capabilities of the instrument you’re requesting.  If a major user highlights what the instrument can’t do (talking about sorting on an analytical instrument), it could blow the grant.  Do not write “FACS” when you mean flow cytometry.  FACS is the Becton Dickinson trademark. When reviewers see “FACS”, they assume the person writing the grant is too confused about the instrument to be taken seriously.

4. Garner Institutional Support

Historical support doesn’t guarantee future support.  Make sure you get a firm commitment for future support, whether it is a service contract, a technician, or space. Get as many commitments as possible. End of story.

5. Prepare Administration and Budget

In preparing the administrative and budget sections, highlight the skills in the facility.  Which people can help with the new instrument?  What is the training program like?  How will you and the major users deal with the data?  Questions like these must be addressed. Make sure you prepare a one year detailed budget for integrating the new instrument, as well as a five year projected budget. Establish exactly how the instrument will be worked into the workflow of the facility on both a short-term and a long-term basis. Case closed.

Join Expert Cytometry's Mastery Class
Tim Bushnell, PhD
Tim Bushnell, PhD

Tim Bushnell holds a PhD in Biology from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a co-founder of—and didactic mind behind—ExCyte, the world’s leading flow cytometry training company, which organization boasts a veritable library of in-the-lab resources on sequencing, microscopy, and related topics in the life sciences.

Similar Articles

7 Key Image Analysis Terms For New Microscopist

7 Key Image Analysis Terms For New Microscopist

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

As scientists, we need to perform image analysis after we’ve acquired images in the microscope, otherwise, we have just a pretty picture and not data. The vocabulary for image processing and analysis can be a little intimidating to those new to the field. Therefore, in this blog, I’m going to break down 7 terms that are key when post-processing of images. 1. RGB Image Images acquired during microscopy can be grouped into two main categories. Either monochrome (that can be multichannel) or “RGB.” RGB stands for red, green, blue – the primary colors of light. The cameras in our phones…

The 5 Essentials To Successful Spectral Unmixing

The 5 Essentials To Successful Spectral Unmixing

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

In an ideal world, we would be able to use fluorophores that don’t have any overlap in emission spectra and autofluorescence wouldn’t obscure your signal. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world and often have to use two closely related dyes – or contend with fluorescent molecules that are innately part of our sample. Fluorescent molecules include chlorophyll, collagen, NADPH, and vitamin A.  One example that I recently encountered was developing a new probe for lipids. The reviewers requested a direct comparison of the new dye to Nile Red in the same sample. Both dyes would localize to the…

The 5 Fundamental Methods For Imaging Nucleic Acids

The 5 Fundamental Methods For Imaging Nucleic Acids

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

There are 4 major ways to sort cells. The first way can use magnetic beads coupled to antibodies and pass the cells through a magnetic field. The labeled cells will stick, and the unlabeled cells will remain in the supernatant. The second way is to use some sort of mechanical force like a flapper or air stream that separates the target cells from the bulk population. The third way is the recently introduced microfluidics sorter, which uses microfluidics channels to isolate the target cells. The last method, which is the most common––based on Fuwyler’s work––is the electrostatic cell sorter. This…

Designing Microscopy Experiments Related To Infectious Diseases And Antivirals

Designing Microscopy Experiments Related To Infectious Diseases And Antivirals

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

There are 4 major ways to sort cells. The first way can use magnetic beads coupled to antibodies and pass the cells through a magnetic field. The labeled cells will stick, and the unlabeled cells will remain in the supernatant. The second way is to use some sort of mechanical force like a flapper or air stream that separates the target cells from the bulk population. The third way is the recently introduced microfluidics sorter, which uses microfluidics channels to isolate the target cells. The last method, which is the most common––based on Fuwyler’s work––is the electrostatic cell sorter. This…

Optical Tissue Clearing For Pristine Sample Preparation

Optical Tissue Clearing For Pristine Sample Preparation

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

There are 4 major ways to sort cells. The first way can use magnetic beads coupled to antibodies and pass the cells through a magnetic field. The labeled cells will stick, and the unlabeled cells will remain in the supernatant. The second way is to use some sort of mechanical force like a flapper or air stream that separates the target cells from the bulk population. The third way is the recently introduced microfluidics sorter, which uses microfluidics channels to isolate the target cells. The last method, which is the most common––based on Fuwyler’s work––is the electrostatic cell sorter. This…

5-Point Guide To Buying A New Microscope For Your Lab

5-Point Guide To Buying A New Microscope For Your Lab

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

Have you ever noticed how painful it can be to purchase a new microscope? It would be hard to miss – this can be a frustrating process. A lot of scientists and students consider the new microscope hunt quite scary for a variety of reasons. It might be that you’re worried you won’t get the right microscope and that you’ll regret it, or you may find that dealing with salespeople, in general, makes you kind of uncomfortable. But remember, salespeople are just human beings like you and me, and if we can treat them as such, the whole process of…

7 Individual Artifacts In Fluorescence Microscopy And How To Minimize Them

7 Individual Artifacts In Fluorescence Microscopy And How To Minimize Them

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

There are 7 different common “artifacts” that may be affecting the quality of your imaging. Before digging into the details, let’s begin by defining an artifact: Essentially, it is any error introduced through sample preparation, the equipment or post-processing methods. This is an important concept to grasp because the effects can cause false positives or negatives, and they can physically distort your data. This is, of course, at odds with your mission to obtain reliable quantitative data. So what can you do to stop these artifacts? The problems can range from dirty objectives to bigger issues like light path aberrations.

Use These 5 Techniques for Super Resolution

Use These 5 Techniques for Super Resolution

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

When you need better resolution than what can be achieved using a traditional microscope, it can be very intimidating to figure out which machines will work best for your experiment. Super-resolution imaging methods require software reconstruction after image acquisition. This is because multiple images are required, and they need to be combined. Additionally, the points of light need to be reassigned to their true location. Today, we're going to discuss 5 different super resolution methods their pros and cons. Although Rayleigh Criterion is not broken, these techniques each feature creative ways to get around it.

6 Microscopy Assays To Determine Cell Health and Improve Your Experimental Results

6 Microscopy Assays To Determine Cell Health and Improve Your Experimental Results

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

When you're performing imaging, always make sure that any phenotype isn't just an artifact of unhealthy cells. If you're doing drug discovery, you want to ensure that the treatment isn't highly toxic to non-target cells. Therefore, it's important to understand the health of the cells.

Top Technical Training eBooks

Get the Advanced Microscopy eBook

Get the Advanced Microscopy eBook

Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

Learn the best practices and advanced techniques across the diverse fields of microscopy, including instrumentation, experimental setup, image analysis, figure preparation, and more.

Get The Free Modern Flow Cytometry eBook

Get The Free Modern Flow Cytometry eBook

Tim Bushnell, PhD

Learn the best practices of flow cytometry experimentation, data analysis, figure preparation, antibody panel design, instrumentation and more.

Get The Free 4-10 Compensation eBook

Get The Free 4-10 Compensation eBook

Tim Bushnell, PhD

Advanced 4-10 Color Compensation, Learn strategies for designing advanced antibody compensation panels and how to use your compensation matrix to analyze your experimental data.