K-Grant Writing Workshop

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Training Program offers a workshop three times per year for approximately 4-8 UCSF research scholars (fellows or early junior faculty), who are planning to apply for a K-series grant in patient-oriented research. This is a structured set of faculty-facilitated works-in-progress sessions, focused on writing a mentored K-grant, for submission during the upcoming K-cycle due date (see timeline below). Because of the emphasis on training and career development, the K grant requires specific elements that differ from traditional investigator-initiated grants. These additional elements are the emphasis of this workshop.

General Structure

The workshop meets every second and fourth week of the month on Thursday afternoons, for a total of six sessions. For the winter quarter (which includes Thanksgiving and Winter break), the six sessions occur over a 14-week period due to the holidays. Each session focuses on a different part of the grant. Note that we do not go over the Approach section during this seminar—this section needs to be drafted in collaboration with a mentor with deep content expertise.

  • Workshops 1 & 2: Specific Aims
  • Workshops 3 & 4: Significance and Innovation
  • Workshops 5 & 6: Career Development and Mentoring plan

For each session, participants send their latest version of the relevant section to all participants by the end of the day on Monday of that week. Faculty facilitators send back comments to the writer before the meeting. All participants arrive to the section having read the others’ grant sections, ready to give thoughtful and constructive feedback. We discuss each participant's work at the seminar on Thursday. We are currently meeting virtually on Zoom.

Who Should Consider Applying

Fellows or junior faculty who have completed a Masters in Clinical Research or the ATCR certificate program through the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, or equivalent. The workshop is not oriented towards the writing of K awards that have minimal patient contact and a heavy emphasis on basic science, since those are not the areas of expertise of the workshop faculty and other workshop attendees. Preference is given to those with a Masters and to those who are already in an internal K program.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Because the goal of the workshop is to help applicants write and submit a competitive K-grant at the end of the workshop, we use the following K review criteria to assess eligibility and make selection decisions:

  1. Be doing patient-oriented clinical/translational research and applying for a K-series grant for the next NIH grant cycle.
  2. Have published AT LEAST three first-authored peer-reviewed papers, of which two MUST BE data-driven original research, in your broad area of research interest.
  3. Have established a mentoring team (primary mentor and co-mentors), ideally with at least 1 publication with your primary mentor.
  4. Present a clear and compelling Specific Aims page, complying with NIH guidelines.

New K-award applications or resubmissions are eligible for this workshop. If you are planning on writing a resubmission in this workshop for an already submitted career development award, it is required that you have already received summary sheet comments from reviewers or will have received them by the first meeting of the workshop.

How to Apply

In preparation for applying, we strongly recommend reviewing the Archived Presentations and Examples below, with particular attention to "Part 3: Research Plan: Specific Aims: Examples." If you fulfill the three eligibility criteria above, submit an online application along with the following:

  1. A draft of your Specific Aims page
  2. Your NIH Biosketch
  3. Who your primary mentor is and a list of any other mentors, including their areas of expertise
  4. Whether you are already part of a K-program (K12, KL2)? If so, when does that funding end?


The K-Grant Writing Workshop is offered at no cost.


Cycle Materials Due Notification of Acceptance Start of Course
Fall (NIH due date: February) Sept. 8 Sept. 17 2nd Thursday in October
Winter (NIH due date: June) Feb. 7 Feb. 16 2nd Thursday in March
Spring (NIH due date in October) June 3 June 15 2nd Thursday in July

Archived Presentations and Examples

The following materials are from the previously-offered Training in Clinical Research (TICR) course Grant Writing Workshop on Mentored Career Development Awards.

Although the examples are from NIH patient-oriented research career development awards (K23s), the underlying concepts for the career development plan, mentoring plan, and research plan also apply to research scientist development awards (K01s) and clinical scientist development awards (K08s). The concepts presented are applicable to most funding sources that support mentored career development awards.

  • Part 1: Overview of Mentored K awards and Writing the Candidate Section
  • Part 2: Statements by Mentors, Co-Mentors, and Collaborators; Environment and Institutional Commitment
  • Part 3: Research Plan: Specific Aims
  • Part 4: Research Plan: Research Strategy (Significance, Innovation and Approach )
  • Part 5: Human Subjects Research, Budget Issues, Biosketches, Abstract and Project Narrative, Cover Letter, and the Review Process