May 29, 2024

How we invest, Part 2: Investing in our funding

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How we invest 2In a three-part series, Heersink School of Medicine is looking into how we invest in our people, awards, equipment, and space.

This week, we are exploring the many ways Heersink invests in awards and research funding.

Funding propels discovery

The landscape of research funding is competitive and often strenuous.

To make UAB a research-friendly environment for new recruits and existing faculty, Heersink School of Medicine prepares investigators for external grant submissions and invests in funds each year available to our investigators and their projects.

We know the importance of ensuring projects have the funding they need, especially for those early in their careers. Knowing funding is available is also important for the morale of our research enterprise.

Preparing faculty for funding submissions

When it comes to award cycles, preparation is critical. UAB is committed to providing resources that help investigators prepare to submit, through supportive trainings and administrative help.


The Grant Writing Intensive (GRIT) program is a year-long practicum designed to empower UAB faculty with the knowledge and skills necessary to secure extramural research funding. Program participants are part of small, focused cohorts of 4-6 individuals. The program begins with six months of structured weekly activities, followed by one-on-one sessions as needed for the remainder of the year. Weekly sessions are a blend of didactic instruction and practical activities, covering topics such as navigating the NIH, project management for proposal development, conducting literature reviews, biostatistics, budgets, and more. GRIT recruitment is now open. Visit their website to learn more.

• Pre-award support services

The Office of Pre-award Support Services in Research Administration Shared Services offers development, assembly, and submission support to investigators during the submission process for NIH, Federal, and foundation/non-profit grant funding opportunities.

The Pre-award Support Service aids researchers and their investigative teams with the myriad administrative components and complexities of grant submissions, working to support the scientist throughout the entire grant development and submission process. Currently, 15 of our 28 departments are utilizing the services of this specialized unit.

Awards offered through Heersink School of Medicine

In addition to helping researchers prepare for funding, Heersink offers a variety of awards each year to researchers. Here are a few examples of Heersink-based awards:

• Bridge funding 

Bridge funding helps cover the gap between awards and award cycles.

Investigators may be “unfunded” for time intervals due to uncertainties in external funding or time lapses between applications and awards.

To that end, bridge funding provides continuing research support to improve the success of research faculty. Learn more about bridge funding.

• Pittman Scholars

Pittman Scholars, named for the late James A. Pittman, M.D., longtime dean of the School of Medicine from 1973 to 1992, are nominated by their department chairs based on their research achievements and potential for continued discovery in the basic or clinical sciences. Awardees are assistant professors who have held that rank for fewer than five years. More than 50 early career Heersink faculty have been supported through this program since its inception in 2015. Read more.

invest research square• Pilot programs

The UAB Office of Research collaborates with Heersink School of Medicine on many pilot award programs available to Heersink investigators. From global health to pain and addiction, several awards exist during different time periods for early-stage investigators. Learn more.

• Multi-Investigator Program

UAB Heersink School of Medicine awards grants annually for Heersink Multi-Investigator Program Awards, which are each funded with $150,000 per year for two years. The latest round was recently awarded to four research investigators in multiple departments. Read the latest news.

• General Endowment Fund (HSF-GEF) 

HSF-GEF grants are intended to enhance the infrastructure of patient-oriented and laboratory research efforts, clinical care program development, medical education initiatives, and university-wide projects by providing funding from the Health Services Foundation's General Endowment Fund. Read more about funding.

Defined strategic priority areas for research

Heersink School of Medicine also invests in four critical focus areas, established in 2022, that epitomize the Dean’s Office research enterprise. Each area is comprised of a multidisciplinary task force that drives goals and objectives.

1. Disruptive Tech Empowering Precision Health (D-TECH)

Advances in digital health and science are revolutionizing precision medicine, potentially impacting health care through the most effective and efficient care. Read about this focus area.

2. Health Equity

Health equity focuses on research on health disparities and plays a key role in improving health outcomes, especially for underserved groups. Discover the health equity focus area.

3. I-4ward (Infection, Inflammation, Immunity, and Immuno-Therapy)

I-4ward focuses on the microbes that promote health and disease, the inflammatory processes, the immune system, and the medicines and therapies used to treat and prevent acute and chronic diseases. I-4ward integrates the expertise and resources at UAB to build unified, interdisciplinary programs in inflammation-based fundamental and clinical research. Read about I-4ward.

4. Brain Health and Disease Across the Lifespan

Focusing on brain research will help understand brain disease states, identify genetic states, harness advanced neuro-technology, and transform care of brain-related diseases at UAB and across the nation. Learn more.

Stay tuned for the next part of the “How we invest” series on equipment and space.