by Jan Chamberlain

The strains of We Are the Champions by Queen set the tone for the Centre of Research Excellence grant development workshop in late June. With future leaders in stroke rehabilitation and brain recovery coming from Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney the two days were set to be thought-provoking and educational.

The workshop aimed to give delegates tips on writing exceptional grants, to understand the reviewing side of grant applications and help refine and focus their research plan. A highlight was a mock grant panel which reviewed an actual NHMRC grant application.

The expert stroke research faculty mentoring and challenging the delegates were: Professors Julie Bernhardt, Geoff Donnan, Dominique Cadilhac, Vincent Thijs, Linda Worrall, Leonid Churilov, Associate Professor Coralie English, Drs Nadine Andrew and Toby Cumming. From a consumer viewpoint stroke survivor Brenda Booth provided constructive insights.

The Mansion Hotel at Werribee Park provided the setting and lectures starting at eight and finished around 10:30 in the morning. Delegates then booked appointments with the faculty for the rest of the day. When not at a meeting they developed their research plan. To help attendees work hard on their grants fabulous food was provided.

The research fields of the future leaders include physiotherapy, nursing, neuroscience, speech pathology, medical science and neuropsychology.

Mentoring meetings with the experts were held in various parts of the hotel. Some meetings were conducted walking around the magnificent 18th century designed gardens.

Delegates were able to refine their grants over the two days and presented a research pitch at the end.

A key take home point was the importance of the first page of a research plan. The writer always has to keep in mind that they are trying to catch the attention of a reviewer who may have looked at many grants, be very tired or have minimal time available.

When asked if delegates would recommend the workshop they said:

‘Fantastic opportunity to refine and develop ideas into solid research projects suitable for submission to funding bodies.’

‘This has been the BEST workshop I have ever been to. The mentors were incredibly generous with their time and input into the studies and grant writing. The opportunity to have such high level input has been incredible. This has been as much about project development as grant writing which has been so insightful.’

‘It’s a brilliant opportunity to learn from the experts and devote time solely to grant development. Huge learning opportunity. Pleasantly exhausting!’

We need more of our best and brightest working in the field of stroke recovery and rehabilitation if we are to achieve new breakthrough treatments.

20180629_082310 Mock grant panel

Mock grant panel: Leonid Churilov, Julie Bernhardt, Linda Worrall, Coralie English, Geoff Donnan