Grant Writing

Getting Smart with Biographical Sketches and CVs in the Grant Application

Usually, all senior/key personnel and other significant contributors are required to submit a biographical sketch or curriculum vita that describes their education background and degrees, professional certifications and experience as it relates to the leadership approach, governance, and organizational structure appropriate for the project. The credentials of collective team members needs to exude expert knowledge, authoritative understanding, proficient familiarity, and accomplished skill.

  • Understand the instructions for biographical sketches for your agency. Most use the NIH biographical sketch (biosketch) format. Prepare your biographical sketch exactly as instructed and using the form provided.
  • NEVER, NEVER copy a biographical sketch from another application to save time. This would be a grave strategic error. Reviewers will grade your team’s ability to complete the entire project based on the Biosketches.
  • Educational Block at the top of the format page beginning with baccalaureate or other initial professional education, and include postdoctoral and residency training. The entries should be in chronological order and should include the name and location of the institution; the degree received; the month and year the degree was received, and the field of study.
  • Positions and Honors. At a minimum, each profile must include the person’s name, title, and position, however, reviewers are especially interested to know each individual’s previous experience, past performance, and training in the field of the proposal and, secondly, that researchers, investigators, and other team members are appropriately trained and well-suited to carry out the research.
  • Personal Statement. This is the most important piece, and should immediately support the viability of this project in your hands to the reviewer.
    • Should be written in first person singular.
    • Relate how your formal education, training and experience contribute to feasibility.
    • Stipulate how participation assures access to relevant resources, equipment and/or subjects.
    • Call attention to past publications or previous project with other current team members.
    • Indicate previous extramural funding that is relevant to current project.
    • If you are a new or young investigator, call attention to the fact here.
  • Selected Peer-reviewed Publications. NIH encourages applicants to limit the list of selected peer-reviewed publications or manuscripts in press to no more than 15. Do not include reviews, book chapters, published abstracts, or anything that is not a peer-reviewed manuscript. Separate the articles into two sections: most relevant to the current application and additional publications of importance. You may choose to include selected publications based on recency, importance to the field, and/or relevance to the proposed research.
  • Research Support. This section should have two sections, ongoing support and research completed in the last three years from the date for submission of proposal.
  • Ask your team to update their biographical sketches with a personal statement that is relevant to this application and then collect electronic copies of everyone’s biographical sketch and curriculum.
  • Update all biographical sketches so that they are formatted the same to emphasize that you have a fully integrated research team that is in perfect synchronization.

Further Reading