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The application portal for the 2025 cohort will open in December 2024.

UCI NIH Boot Camp

UCI's National Institutes of Health (NIH) Boot Camp is a comprehensive, multifaceted mentoring program designed to help university faculty researchers successfully apply for their first research grants from NIH.

For the NIH Boot Camp, one or two UC Irvine faculty coaches work with a group consisting of four to eight mentees. Volunteer coaches guide their group through a research roadmap, which helps mentees identify and confirm a specific scientific field, determine the skills and resources necessary to become an expert in the research topic, and develop an NIH grant application.

In much the same way that an athletic coach is not an expert at all team positions, a boot camp coach is not necessarily an expert on the scientific expertise needed for each mentee’s grant proposal. Rather, the coach is a process expert. Each mentee also is required to work with an internal subject matter expert, or 1:1 scientific mentor, who is contracted to consult with the mentee on the scientific content of the proposal.

Small group activities include helping to determine a realistic deadline for each mentee, advising them on developing sections of a proposal, and reviewing proposals in the group. Coaches help the group find answers to other issues that may surface, such as questions about NIH policy or how to engage NIH program officers. The boot camp manager serves as a resource for the coaches and can arrange for additional support when requested by the group.

Each team is self-governing. Coaches will have a hosting budget ($900/team) to support meetings and — together with the group members — determine when the group will meet (e.g., breakfast meetings, pizza after work, etc.). The boot camp manager provides a dedicated team folder for team members to upload and share proposal sections for review.

Why should you apply to be a coach? How does the role of coach benefit the program and the mentees?

  • Share the knowledge you have gained
  • Guide and encourage new researchers
  • Learn about new technologies and discoveries
  • Work in an interdisciplinary/translational group
  • Contribute to the research mission of UC Irvine
  • Have fun!
  • Receive $5,000 in discretionary funds per coach, plus $900 for hosting expenses per team

Individuals interested in serving as faculty coaches should email a statement of interest and a recent version of their NIH biosketch to:

Faculty Coaches FAQs

Conferred in June 2023, this inaugural award recognizes five years of extraordinary service. Congratulations to our awardees:

Kyoko Yokomori, PhD, Department of Biological Chemistry
Peter Donovan, PhD, Department of Biological Chemistry

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Internal Subject Matter Experts (ISME)

Internal subject matter experts (ISME) serve as 1:1 scientific mentors for mentees. ISMEs should be selected by the mentee in consultation with coaches, department chairs and other leadership as appropriate. ISMEs provide counsel on mentee research roadmaps, help them prepare and present “Chalk Talks,” and review proposal drafts. If you are interested in becoming an ISME, contracts must be completed prior to the start of the NIH Boot Camp. Contracts ensure ISME commitment to their mentees and facilitate compensation at the end of the program.

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External Subject Matter Experts (ESME)

External subject matter experts (ESME) work with mentees to review their proposal in advance of the NIH application deadline. To obtain an ESME review, the mentee must contact the boot camp manager with completed materials (i.e., request form and draft proposal) at least six (6) weeks in advance of the NIH deadline. The boot camp manger facilitates the review process, and once completed, the ESME receives $500 for his or her service. If you need assistance finding an ESME to review your proposal, please let us know! The ESME is expected to return the review within two (2) to three (3) weeks. Please note that it is best to obtain this review at least six (6) weeks in advance of your NIH deadline to allow time for further refinement and data assimilation.

This program is administered by the Research Development Unit in the School of Medicine, Office of Research.

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