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MATRIX Mentoring Program

Mentoring to Achieve Research Independence

Mentoring to Achieve Research Independence (MATRIX) is an intensive 9-month mentoring program coordinated by the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) and designed to help faculty members (mentees) successfully land their first National Institute of Health (NIH) R01 Research Project Grant or equivalent.

The MATRIX program recognizes the importance of good mentoring and represents an effort to establish a structured annual preparatory course that will enable mentoring and research development. Coaches (mentors) will be paired with mentees in this program. The first cohort launched in January 2020.

While developing proposals over the course, mentees attend a variety of workshops on topics such as grant writing, budgeting, and biostatistics. Throughout the program, faculty coaches with established records of NIH funding guide groups of peer mentees through the entire proposal development process. The team structure facilitates a collaborative and supportive environment.  Mentees also receive one-on-one counsel from Internal Subject Matter Experts (ISMEs) who review research plans and proposal drafts, and External Subject Matter Experts (ESMEs) who provide feedback on final proposals.

Prepare proposal

MATRIX PROVIDES

Mentees with the necessary tools, resources, and support to develop a competitive R01 or equivalent proposal.

Coaching by faculty members with successful funding records who commit to mentor, meet, and advise their group and department chairs.

Large group events and workshops hosted by the SMPH that provide mentees with the essential tools and knowledge needed to develop and write successful R01 or equivalent proposals.

Self-directed integrated peer group activities for mentees to share, review, provide feedback, and address challenges in proposal sections.

Subject matter expertise contributed by Internal Subject Matter Experts (ISMEs) who provide guidance and feedback on research plans, chalk talk presentations to the department, and draft grant proposals; and External Subject Matter Experts (ESMEs) who review and provide feedback on mentees’ final proposals before the grant application deadline.

HOW TO APPLY

The online portal for MATRIX Mentees and Coaches for the 2023 Cohort is now open. The application deadline has been extended to December 22, 2022. Mentee applicants can apply by clicking on the “Mentee Information and Application Process”  link below.  Coach applicants can apply by clicking on the “Coach’s Information and Application Process”  link below.  Note: Mentees, Coaches, and ISMEs can be from any department, school, or college on the UW campus.  Additional information is included on the downloadable files below:

MATRIX Components and Application Process

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MATRIX Activities and Timeline

MATRIX is a structured mentoring program that provides mentees with a multi-tiered approach involving a series of large and small group venues that participants will actively participate in, as follows:

Large Group Events and Workshops: Designed for all participants in the cohort, these large group events will provide mentees with the tools and knowledge needed to successfully develop and write a high-quality NIH R01 (or equivalent) proposal. Example topics may include grant writing, budgets, biostatistics, time management, and more. Large group events tentatively planned for the 2023 MATRIX Cohort include:

  • Opening Ceremony (January)
  • Full-day Grant Writing Seminar (February)
  • Budget and Biostatistics Workshop
  • Mid-Year Event – To Be Announced (June)
  • Closing Ceremony (October)

Small Group Peer Activities:  Small group activities will serve as a platform for self-directed interdisciplinary activities for a pod of two to four mentees and one faculty coach. Each of these groups will meet at least monthly and provide an interactive environment for mentees to share, review, provide feedback, and address challenges in proposal sections.

Individualized coaching by faculty members with successful funding records who commit to mentor, meet, and advise their group and department chairs.

Chalk Talks: Chalk Talks, to be completed within the first three months of the program in consultation with the home department and the Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME), will consist of a one-hour presentation by the mentee to experienced researchers to gain feedback on Specific Aims to strengthen proposal development.

Internal Consultation: Internal Subject Matter Experts (ISMEs), to be selected by mentees, departments, and coaches, will counsel mentees on research plans, help them mentees prepare and present Chalk Talks, and provide feedback and guidance on grant proposal drafts.

External Review: External Subject Matter Experts (ESMEs) will be recruited and paid to provide an NIH-style critique on the final draft of mentees’ proposals at least six-weeks before the grant application deadline.

Download the complete R01 Prep Course Program Annual Timeline

Mentee Information and Application Process

Mentees are grouped into small teams (pods) where specialized training, guidance, and camaraderie aid in the development of a competitive NIH R01 or equivalent proposal over this 9-month program. Participation is limited to faculty members who have not yet been a Principal Investigator (PI) on an R01 project (or equivalent).

The course will include Coaches (Senior UW-Madison faculty with established track records of external funding) and an Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) for each mentee to consult on the scientific content of the proposals. Mentees, with assistance from their departments and/or coaches, as well as information gleaned from the Research Insight website at UW, will generate names of potential ISMEs—any established UW faculty researcher who would be a good fit with mentees’ research fields and needs and is available to offer scientific guidance. The goal is for mentees to recruit an ISME within the first three months of the program. ISMEs will counsel mentees on their research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and provide guidance on grant proposal drafts.  During the program, ISMEs will also help mentees identify an External Subject Matter Expert (ESME), who will provide a critical NIH-style review on mentees’ near-final proposals before the grant application deadline. Once an ISME and EMSE are identified, the mentee should send their names and contact information to the MATRIX Program email: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu

MENTEE RESPONSIBILIITIES

Mentees will actively participate in group meetings and activities. One coach will be assigned to a group of two to four mentees (a pod). All pods will meet for 2-hour monthly meetings, January through September (in addition to a mid-term and closing ceremony).

Coaches will guide the group through NIH policies and practices and development of an R01 equivalent grant application. In much the same way that a head coach is not an expert on all the positions, a MATRIX coach is not necessarily an expert on the scientific expertise needed for each mentee’s grant proposal. Rather, the coach is a process expert. Scientific expertise will be provided by the ISME, as well as feedback from the ESME.

Small group (pod) activities include helping to determine a realistic deadline for each mentee, advising them on developing sections of a proposal, and reviewing proposals in the group. Coaches will help the group find answers to other issues that may surface, such as how to contact NIH Program Officers or how to select a study section.

Each pod is self-governing. Coaches will arrange meetings and, together with the pod members, determine when the pod will meet. We will provide a dedicated team folder in Box for pod members to upload and share proposal sections for review.

Several large group events and/or workshops for all participants will provide mentees with additional tools and knowledge needed to successfully develop and write a high-quality NIH R01 (or equivalent) proposal, such as grant writing, budgets, biostatistics, time management, and more.

Download the complete R01 Prep Course Program Timeline.

BENEFITS OF BECOMING A MENTEE

  • Learn how to present a well-conceptualized research project / grant idea persuasively.
  • Gain insight about what grant reviewers are looking.
  • Learn how to identify and request the best study section for reviewing your proposal.
  • Learn how to communicate with your Program Officer.
  • Become a peer reviewer within your own pod.
  • Prepare and present a Chalk Talk to receive feedback on your Specific Aims.
  • Pick up best practices from widely-acclaimed experts at Grant Writers’ Seminars about how to “Write Winning Grant Proposals” with a focus on NIH.
  • Create a cross-disciplinary, supportive network with other new investigators at UW-Madison.

ELIGIBILITY FOR MENTEES

Applicants must:

  • Be UW-Madison faculty members…. Scientists, or assistant or associate professors. Mentees can be from any department, school, or college on the UW campus.
  • Have not been a PI on an NIH R01 grant proposal.
  • Have demonstrated interest in obtaining extramural funding.
  • Be willing to seek out and enlist the participation of an Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) and External Subject Matter Expert (ESME). Once identified, mentees should send names and contact information to the MATRIX Program email: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu.
  • Have a draft (however rudimentary) of an Aims page.
  • Gain approval from Department Chair (or Division Head) documented via cover letter attached to application.

Selection Process: Applications will be 1) vetted by an admissions committee to determine readiness to prepare an R01 equivalent grant, and 2) sent to Chairs or Division Heads to confirm consent for the mentee’s participation in the program and their support during its duration.

HOW TO APPLY

The application period is now open via the online portal below. For consideration to be a mentee, applicants will be required to submit the following documents by December 22, 2022 (note: deadline has been extended): 

(1) Cover letter co-signed by applicant and Department Chair (or Division Head). Applicants should download and use the appropriate template provided below (SMPH vs non-SMPH applicants):
               • SMPH mentee applicants, please use this cover letter template: SMPH Mentee Cover Letter
               • Non-SMPH applicants, please use this cover letter template: Non-SMPH Mentee Cover Letter
(2) NIH Biosketch (5 pages maximum). You may use the “A. Personal Statement” to describe how the MATRIX program will benefit you.
(3) Draft Aims Page

In addition, mentees are required to attend the following events:

  • Opening Ceremony (January)
  • Mid-term Ceremony (June)
  • Monthly Team Meetings
  • Mock Review and Closing Ceremony (October)

Mentee Application Process

Name(Required)

The following documents are required -

  • Cover letter co-signed by applicant and Department Chair (or Division Head)
  • NIH Biosketch (5 pages maximum) (You may use the Personal Statement to describe how the MATRIX program will benefit you).
  • Draft Aims Page
(Note: the documents should be compiled into one pdf document – so letter, biosketch, and Aims page can be a single pdf attachment)

Drop files here or
Accepted file types: pdf, Max. file size: 24 MB.

    Coach Information and Application Process

    The path to research funding is highly competitive and very complicated, and the process to develop a research proposal can be challenging without guidance.  MATRIX is a 9-month, multi-tiered structured program specifically designed to help first-time R01 (or equivalent) UW-Madison applicants successfully secure grant funding. Programs like MATRIX have been implemented by top-funded universities around the country, proving successful time and again. However, the success of the program depends greatly on the network of support the applicant receives during the writing period, which is where coaches, as leaders, can make a difference. Faculty members with strong NIH funding track records and peer-review experience will serve as coaches in MATRIX to guide mentees through the process of developing NIH research project grant proposals (or equivalent), while encouraging peer support and feedback. SMPH encourages qualified UW-Madison faculty to get involved in the program to provide this highly relevant support to early-career applicants.

    In addition to coaches, MATRIX will enlist the support of an Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) for each mentee to consult on the scientific content of the proposals. Mentees, with assistance from their departments and/or coaches, as well as information gleaned from the Research Insight website at UW, will generate names of potential ISMEs—any established UW faculty researcher who would be a good fit with mentees’ research fields and needs and is available to offer scientific guidance. The goal is for each mentee to recruit an ISME within the first three months of the program. ISMEs will counsel mentees on their research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and review and provide feedback on grant proposal drafts. During the program, ISMEs will also help mentees identify an External Subject Matter Expert (ESME), who will provide a critical NIH-style review on mentees’ near-final proposals before the grant application deadline. Once an ISME and EMSE are identified, the mentee should send their names and contact information to the MATRIX Program email: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu

    COACH’S RESPONSIBILITIES

    One coach will be assigned to a group of two to four mentees (a pod). All pods will meet with their coach, face-to-face for 2-hour monthly meetings, January through September (in addition to the closing ceremony).  The coach serves as the “process” expert to guide the group through NIH policies and practices and development of an R01 equivalent grant application.

    Small group activities include helping to determine a realistic deadline for each mentee, advising them on developing sections of a proposal, and reviewing proposals in the group. Coaches will help the group find answers to other issues that may surface, such as how to contact NIH Program Officers or how to select a study section.

    Each pod is self-governing. Coaches will be given “general” guidelines on discussing grant sections, arrange meetings, and -together with the pod members- determine when the pod will meet. We will provide a dedicated team folder in Box for pod members to upload and share proposal sections for review. Individual team folders are only accessible to designated pod members.

    Download the complete R01 Prep Course Program Timeline.

    BENEFITS OF BECOMING A COACH

    • Share knowledge you have gained.
    • Guide and encourage new researchers.
    • Learn about new technologies and discoveries.
    • Work in an interdisciplinary/translational group.
    • Contribute to the research mission of UW-Madison.
    • Receive $2,000 per mentee (up to 4) to be paid as an overload.

    ELIGIBILITY FOR COACHES

    Applicants must:

    • Be faculty members with primary appointments as associate or full professors at UW-Madison. Coaches can be from any department, school, or college on the UW campus.
    • Have been a PI on at least one NIH R01 grant proposal.
    • Have experience as a grant reviewer (ideally NIH).
    • Have demonstrated interest and experience in mentoring.

    Selection Process: Selection will be made based on:

    • Strength of experience both as an investigator and a mentor.
    • Match with scientific composition of mentee teams.

    Each coach will receive $2,000 per mentee (up to 4) to be paid as an overload.

    HOW TO APPLY

    The application period is now open through the online portal below. For consideration to be a coach, applicants will be required to submit the following documents by December 22, 2022 (note: deadline has been extended):

    • NIH Biosketch (5 pages maximum). You may use the “A. Personal Statement” to describe your interest in mentoring.

    In addition, coaches are required to attend the following events:

    • Opening Ceremony (January)
    • Monthly Team Meetings
    • Mock Review and Closing Ceremony (October)

    Coach Application Process

    Name(Required)
    Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 24 MB.

      Note: Mentees and Coaches can be from any department, school, or college on UW campus

      Information for and Selection of Internal Subject Matter Experts

      An Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) will be an established UW-Madison faculty researcher who would be a good fit with mentees’ research fields and needs and is available to offer scientific guidance to a mentee. ISMEs can be from any department, school, or college on the UW-Madison campus. Mentees, with assistance from their departments and/or coaches, as well as information gleaned from the Research Insight website at UW, will generate names of potential ISMEs. Each mentee should then reach out to a potential ISME to determine their willingness to participate in the program, with the goal of recruiting an ISME within the first three months of the program. Once identified, mentees should send name and email of the ISME to the MATRIX email: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu. ISMEs will counsel mentees on their research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and provide guidance and feedback on grant proposal drafts. Specific roles of the ISMEs include to:

      • Advise mentees of the appropriateness of the preliminary data and the specific aims;
      • Review drafts of sections of the R01 or equivalent proposal as they are being developed;
      • Guide mentees on a timeline to complete the proposal;
      • Advise the mentee on preparing a Chalk Talk in their department or location they determine most appropriate, attend the Chalk Talk, suggest participants to attend, and provide feedback to the mentee;
      • Help the mentee determine an appropriate NIH study section and provide advice on contacting a program officer; and
      • Help the mentee identify and recruit an External Subject Matter Expert (ESME) who can provide a critical NIH-style review of a near-final draft of the proposal, and who has pertinent NIH study section experience.

      BENEFITS OF BECOMING AN ISME

      Through the experience of serving as an ISME, you will be able to:

      • Help guide the success of new investigators.
      • Contribute to the mentee’s research design and rationale.
      • Share your wisdom and insight as an experienced researcher, reviewer, and faculty member.
      • Have the opportunity to learn about new technologies or methods.
      • Participate in MATRIX events.
      • Contribute to the research mission of UW-Madison.

      Total estimated time commitment is approximately 16-20 hours (excluding optional components). In compensation for the completion of this role (i.e., once the mentee has submitted a carefully developed and well-reviewed NIH R01 or equivalent application), you will receive a $1,000 salary supplement.

      HOW TO APPLY 

      ISMEs will be selected by the mentee in consultation with coaches and Department Chairs. Its is suggested that ISMEs are recruited within the first three months of the program. Please download and complete the ISME Agreement.

      How to Identify External Subject Matter Experts

      External Subject Matter Experts (ESMEs) work with mentees to review their proposal in advance of the grant application deadline. The Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) will help the mentee identify and recruit an ESME who can provide a critical NIH-style review of a near-final draft of the proposal, and who has pertinent NIH study section experience.

      To obtain an ESME review, the mentee will contact the  MATRIX Program Director with completed materials (i.e., request form and draft proposal) at least six (6) weeks in advance of the grant application deadline. The program manager will facilitate the review process, and once completed, the ESME receives $500 for his or her service.

      The ESME is expected to keep all research confidential and return the provided NIH research proposal review template within two (2) to three (3) weeks. Please note that it is best to obtain this review at least six (6) weeks in advance of the grant application deadline to allow time for further refinement and data assimilation.

      Please send inquiries to matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu.

      ESME Agreement & Proposal Review Forms:

      Frequently Asked Questions

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      (For SMPH Mentees) What is the department's expected financial contribution for SMPH mentees accepted to this program?

      The cost to the SMPH department per mentee is estimated to be about $2,000 due to the financial support of SMPH Dean Golden. For departments outside of SMPH, please see next link below.

       

      (For non-SMPH Mentees) What is the expected financial contribution from departments outside of SMPH for non-SMPH mentees accepted to this program?

      The cost to departments/units outside of SMPH is estimated to be about $10,000 per non-SMPH mentee. This commitment needs to be articulated in the mentee application cover letter, which is co-signed by the applicant and Department Chair (or Division Head).

      Please contact the MATRIX Program for more information: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu.

      Does the department's investment need to be worked out with the chair before applying as a mentee?

      Yes. The mentee applicant must obtain Department Chair (or Division Head) approval to apply. This must be documented in a cover letter attached to the application that is co-signed by both the applicant and Chair/Head.  This will be part of the selection process.

      Can the mentee work on an application other than a R01?

      While the goal of the MATRIX Program is to develop an R01 application, we also will consider other “equivalent” research grant proposals.

      Is this program only available to faculty, or can academic staff scientists apply for mentee as well?

      MATRIX is is open to scientists, but they must discuss it with the Department Chair first. In the discussion, the scientist and Chair should be clear on expectations in case the R01 gets funded. The Chair is expected to provide $2,000 towards enrollment for SMPH mentees, or $10,000 towards enrollment for non-SMPH mentees, and support the mentee all the way until submission of the proposal (protecting time for writing, etc).

      Is a scientist working in a lab who is also a multi-PI on an R21 qualified to be a mentee in MATRIX?

      A scientist who has not been a PI on an R01 is qualified to apply.  The scientist will need a cover letter signed by thier current employer and Department Chair. The employer’s signature will ensure that they get the protected time needed to write an R01, or equivalent, proposal.

      If a junior investigator has a K99/R00 grant, does the R00 component make them not eligible to pursue participation in the MATRIX program?

      The junior investigator would be eligible since they have yet been a PI on an R01.

       

      More Information

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      Contact Us

      For more information, contact:

      MATRIX Program Email: matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu 

      Program Administrators:

      Hector Valdivia, MD, PhD, Director, Cardiovascular Research Center
      MATRIX Faculty Director
      Email: hvaldivia@wisc.edu
      Phone: 608-265-5392

      Debbie Melzter, MS
      MATRIX Program Director
      Email: dmeltzer@wisc.edu

      Lori Uttech-Hanson, CRA, MA Ed, Director, medRAMP Office
      MATRIX Administrative Staff
      Email: uttechhanson@wisc.edu
      Phone: 920-296-5930

      Christy Schulz, MS, Director, Research Administrtation
      MATRIX Administrative Staff
      Email: crschulz@wisc.edu

      Mentee Participant in MATRIX 2019 Pilot Program
      Mentor Participant in MATRIX 2019 Pilot Program
      MATRIX 2019 Pilot Closing Ceremony