Knutson to Lead Succeeding with Your K Award Seminar Series
If applying for an R01 is a bit like riding a roller coaster, the resources, tools, and mentoring that an individual receives during their Career Development (K) award can help provide needed lift to the to the top of that exhilarating first hill.
“Obtaining a K is an outstanding accomplishment for an early career investigator; however, it can be somewhat daunting to move from a K to the launch if an independent research program,” says Kristen Knutson, PhD, associate professor of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Neurology and Epidemiology in the Department of Preventive Medicine. “The Succeeding with Your K Award Seminar Series offers these scholars important insights and provides momentum as they start to navigate the process.”
Knutson was recently named director of the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute’s K Award Seminar Series.
The series is designed for early-career faculty members or postdoctoral fellows supported on a National Institutes of Health K award. NUCATS compiles a participant list on an annual basis based on NIH funding at the beginning of each academic year. If you have not received an invitation and feel you should be included, please reach out to Morgan Barrowman.
The objective of the NIH Career Development Award program is to provide salary and research support for a sustained period of “protected time” (three to five years) to ensure future generations of well-trained scientists who will become competitive for NIH research project (R01) grant support.
“I remember submitting my first R01. It was scored fairly well and I got a Just in Time request. My mentors and division chief at the time assumed that meant it'd be funded. But it wasn't,” says Knutson. “It was very disappointing, but I rallied and resubmitted. That application also scored well and I received an email indicating that I need to reply to two issues. I received this email the day after giving birth and I responded from my hospital bed. So, I had my first baby and my first R01 within days of each other.”
Knutson’s current research program focuses on the association between sleep, circadian rhythms, and cardiometabolic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. She has published more than 100 papers and continues to explore whether sleep and circadian rhythms partially mediate socioeconomic and/or racial/ethnic health disparities.
“I have extensive experience preparing and submitting NIH grant applications (successful and unsuccessful) and I’ve participated in grant reviews from many funding bodies, including serving as a standing study section member for the NIH,” she says. “I’m excited to share the many lessons learned, both as an applicant and reviewer to support early career colleagues.”
The Succeeding with Your K Award Seminar Series meets monthly for 10 sessions during the academic year. The NUCATS Institute’s Succeeding With Your K Award Toolbox provides recommended resources discussed during the series that may assist K scholars in their career development and personal life. These tools can be used individually or in tandem with one another.
“There are so many challenges to forging a new research program and no one should have to go it alone,” says Knutson. “This series is an asset because it connects the newest scholars with those who have forged this path before. The scholars can learn from their experience, and they can develop a network of peers. These connections will serve as an important resource as they continue in their career.”
The NUCATS Institute is supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Grant Number UL1TR001422. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Written by Roger Anderson