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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 will launch 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 on research plans, chalk talk presentations to the department, and research proposal review; and External Subject Matter Experts (ESMEs) who review and provide feedback on mentees’ final proposals before the October 5th NIH R01 deadline.

HOW TO APPLY

Applications for MATRIX Mentors and Coaches for the 2020 Cohort are now available. The application deadline has been extended to December 1, 2020. Click on the links below to learn how to apply.

Download the 2020 Cohort MATRIX Program Flyer.

MATRIX COMPONENTS AND APPLICATION PROCESS

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MATRIX Activities and Timeline

MATRX 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 planned for the 2020 MATRIX Cohort include:

  • Opening Ceremony (January 2020)
  • Full-day Grant Writing Seminar (February 2020)
  • Budget and Biostatistics Workshop
  • Mid-Year Event – To Be Announced
  • Closing Ceremony (September 2020)

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 face-to-face 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 provide counsel on mentees’ research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and review 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 October 5th NIH deadline.

Download the complete R01 Prep Course 2020 Program Timeline

 

Mentee Information and Application Process

Mentees are grouped into small teams where specialized training, guidance, and camaraderie all 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 SMPH 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, together with their departments and/or coaches, 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. Prior to the start of the program, the mentee will approach the ISME to ask about his/her willingness to participate in MATRIX. ISMEs will provide counsel on mentees’ research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and review proposal drafts.

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 face-to-face for 2-hour monthly meetings, January through September 2020 (in addition to a 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 have a hosting budget to support meetings and, together with the pod members, determine when the pod will meet, e.g., breakfast meetings, pizza after work, etc. 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 2020 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 the SMPH.

ELIGIBILITY FOR MENTEES

Applicants must:

  • Be SMPH faculty members…. Scientists, assistant or associate professors.
  • 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 Internal Subject Matter Experts (ISMEs).
  • Have a draft (however rudimentary) of an Aims page.

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 seek consent for the mentee’s participation in the program and their support during its duration.

HOW TO APPLY

For consideration to be a mentee, please submit to matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu by December 1, 2020 the following documents:

  • NIH Biosketch (5 pages maximum) (You may use the Personal Statement to describe how the MATRIX program will benefit you)
  • Draft Aims Page

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

  • Opening Ceremony (in January 2020, TBD)
  • Monthly Team Meetings
  • Mock Review and Closing Ceremony (October 2020)

Coach's 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) SMPH 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 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, together with their departments and/or coaches, 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. Prior to the start of the program, the mentee will approach the ISME to ask about his/her willingness to participate in the MATRIX program. ISMEs will provide counsel on mentees’ research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and review proposal drafts.

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 2020 (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 have a hosting budget to support meetings and, together with the pod members, determine when the pod will meet, e.g., breakfast meetings, pizza after work, etc. 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 2020 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 the SMPH.
  • Receive $2,000 in salary per mentee (up to 4), plus $500 for hosting expenses per team.

ELIGIBILITY FOR COACHES

Applicants must:

  • Be faculty members with primary appointments as associate or full professors in the SMPH.
  • 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; and
  • match with scientific composition of mentee teams.

Each coach will receive a salary supplement of $2,000 in salary per mentee (up to 4), plus $500 for hosting expenses per team

HOW TO APPLY

For consideration to be a coach, please submit to matrixmentoring@med.wisc.edu by December 1, 2020 the following:

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

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

  • Opening Ceremony (in January 2020, TBD)
  • Monthly Team Meetings
  • Mock Review and Closing Ceremony (October 2020)

Information for and Selection of Internal Subject Matter Experts

An Internal Subject Matter Expert (ISME) will be 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. Mentees, together with their departments or coaches, will generate names of potential ISMEs. Then pior to the start of the program, the mentee should approach the ISME to ask about his/her willingness to participate in the MATRIX program. ISMEs will provide counsel on mentees’ research plans, help them prepare and present Chalk Talks, and review 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 the UW-Madison SMPH.

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.  ISMEs are required to complete an agreement prior to January 31, 2020.  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 NIH application deadline. The Internal Help 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 NIH 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 review 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 your NIH deadline to allow time for further refinement and data assimilation.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the department's expected financial contribution for mentees accepted to this program?

The cost to the department per mentee is estimated to be about $1,825.

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

The mentee applicant does not need to work this out with the department chair before applying. 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.

More Information

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Contact Us

For more information, contact:

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

Debbie Meltzer, MS, Assistant Dean, Office of Basic Research, Biotechnology, and Graduate Studies
Email: dmeltzer@wisc.edu
Phone: 608-263-4940

Lori Uttech-Hanson, CGS, CGE, MA Ed, Director, medRAMP Office – SMPH Office for Research AdMinistration and Proposal Development Services
Email: uttechhanson@wisc.edu
Phone: 608-263-7294

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