Sacco Scholars Proposed Research Plan Instructions

Sacco Scholars Proposed Research Plan, 5-page limit

  • The trainee and mentor should collaboratively provide a thoughtfully planned, systematic proposal aimed at clearly answering an investigative question in cardiovascular, cerebrovascular or brain health research. A fellow must have primary responsibility for the writing and the preparation of the application, understanding the mentor will play a significant part in providing guidance to the applicant. Because the fellow receives only a stipend from the award, additional monetary support for the proposed work MUST come from the mentor's laboratory. Therefore, the proposal will likely be related to the mentor's currently funded work. The mentor should clarify the role the applicant played in developing the proposal, the relationship of the proposal to ongoing work in the mentor's laboratory, and how the proposal will contribute toward the training and career development of the applicant.
  • A new fellow may not have had adequate time to generate preliminary data; therefore, applicants may present preliminary data generated by the mentor. The assessment of preliminary data, whether generated by the mentor or the applicant, should be put into perspective so that bold new ideas and risk taking by beginning investigators are encouraged rather than stymied. Submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content as a submission by another investigator is prohibited. Also, the submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content from a mentor to a grant program and their fellow to fellowship program is prohibited. In such cases, both applications may be removed from funding consideration. If a grant application is submitted by the mentor of a fellowship application, both applications may be funded if there is no duplication of aims.

Type the research plan specifically following the outline below, in the same sequence. Address all items. Indicate N/A or None if not applicable to this proposal. The entire proposed research plan must not exceed the five-page limit.

  1. Specific Aims - Provide a clear, concise summary of the aims of the work proposed and the project’s relationship to your long-term goals. Note the significance and innovation of your research; then list two to three concrete objectives.

  2. Research Strategy - Describe your research rationale and the experiments you will conduct to accomplish each aim. Structure as follows:
Significance: Sketch the background leading to this proposal. Summarize important results outlined by others in the same field, critically evaluating existing knowledge. Identify gaps that this project is intended to fill.
State concisely the importance and relevance of the research to cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular function or disease, or to related fundamental problems. Also, it is incumbent upon the applicant to make a clear link between the project and the mission of the AHA. The significance section will be assessed in terms of potential impact on the AHA mission; this will be factored into the overall priority score as noted in the peer review criteria.

Preliminary Studies
: Describe concisely previous work related to the proposed research by the applicant that will help to establish the experience and competence of the investigator to pursue the proposed project. Include pilot studies showing the work is feasible. (If none, so state.)

Approach: Description of proposed tests, methods or procedures should be explicit, sufficiently detailed, and well defined to allow adequate evaluation of the approach to the problem. Describe any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies.

Clearly describe overall design of the study, with careful consideration to statistical aspects of the approach, the adequacy of controls, and number of observations, as well as how results will be analyzed. Include details of any collaborative arrangements that have been made.

Discuss the potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedures and alternative approaches to achieve the aims.

All applications that include vertebrate animals or human subjects: Applicants must explain how relevant biological variables, such as sex, are factored into the research design, analysis and reporting. Furthermore, strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations, must be provided for applications proposing to study only one sex.
Ethical aspects of the proposed research are to be addressed in the subject use approval documents. 

Describe any special ethical circumstance or issue of note in the proposed research plan.
  • Animal subject use documents are to be uploaded into the Research Assurances section of the proposal.
  • Human subject approval and consent forms are just-in-time documents that are submitted for funded projects prior to award activation.
If the proposed research project involves human subjects, the population sampled shall be inclusive of the general population, of relevance to the scientific question posed, without restriction regarding gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status. Proposals that intentionally restrict the population sampled must include a compelling scientific rationale for such research design as part of the proposed research plan. There is not a separate upload for this explanation; it must be included within the allowable page limit for your proposal.