Enrichment Program

The Enrichment Program has three priority areas: Community Building and Education, Mentorship and Career Development, and Research Development and Innovation

Community Building and Education

Contact: Karl J. Jepsen, PhD (kjepsen@med.umich.edu) and Megan Killian, PhD (mlkillia@med.umich.edu)

Musculoskeletal Research in Progress (MSK RiP): The MSK RiP was recognized by the UM Rackham Graduate School as a Distinguished Faculty and Graduate Student Seminar in 2016 and has facilitated collaborations, promoted musculoskeletal research programs and resources, and introduced new investigators to the musculoskeletal community. The seminar aims to build community, promote collaborations, and provide a venue for communicating the latest MSK research. This seminar is managed by Dr. Killian with assistance from Dr. Jepsen and Ms. Mijal and is used to make announcements and disseminate information. The MSK RiP is generally held the third Wednesday of the academic months (Sept – June) from 4-5 PM in rooms ABC of the BSRB, but will also be streamed using Zoom videoconferencing.

Monthly Technical Workshops: Monthly Technical Workshops will be held immediately preceding the MSK RiP seminars. The workshops are open to anyone and provide a venue for educating faculty, staff, and trainees on core services including technologies, study design, and data interpretation.

Annual Musculoskeletal Health Symposium: The Musculoskeletal Health Symposium serves as the annual meeting for the MiMHC. The goals of the symposium are to celebrate the diversity of musculoskeletal research conducted by Center members, promote the Center and core services, build community, and provide career growth opportunities for trainees and junior faculty. This symposium is open to the public and generally held in the Spring in the BSRB.

Newsletter:  A quarterly newsletter will be distributed to the MiMHC community with the intent of providing updates on core services and impact (papers, grants), highlighting the research of Center members, increasing awareness of grant opportunities, and notifying the community of major upcoming events.

Mentorship and Career Development

Contact:  Renny Franceschi, PhD (rennyf@umich.edu)

MSK Boot Camp: The goal of the MSK Boot Camp is to mentor junior faculty on grantsmanship, including writing skills, collecting preliminary data, and understanding the NIH review process. The MSK Boot Camp is modeled after the UM Medical School R01 Boot Camp in that a junior faculty is paired with 3 musculoskeletal experts to provide guidance during the grant development process. Dr. Franceschi forms an expert panel from a group of volunteer musculoskeletal investigators with grant success and reviewing-experience as well as a record of mentorship. The program involves monthly meetings with the following schedule: months 1-4 are spent developing the Specific Aims and learning about the NIH extramural grant system including information on relevant study sections; months 5-6 are spent writing the significance and innovation sections; months 7-10 are spent writing the Research Plan. Faculty mentors review the completed grant and also provide guidance on responding to critiques for a resubmission, should that be necessary.

Grant writing support: Grant writing skill development are supported in two additional ways. First, Center investigators who want a grant pre-reviewed prior to submission can contact Dr. Franceschi who will organize a panel of experts willing to review the proposal. Faculty must submit the grant for review at least 2 months before the deadline. The panel reviews the grant using the CSR format within 2 weeks, allowing ample time for the faculty to make meaningful changes to the proposal. Second, Center investigators who need financial support to attend a grant writing workshop (offsite or online) can contact Dr. Franceschi who will provide full or partial funding, depending on the circumstances and availability of funds. This workshop support may include offsetting travel costs or registration fees.

Launch Committees: UM uses Launch Committees to support the career growth of junior faculty and provide advice, information, and encouragement within a confidential and positive atmosphere. Dr. Franceschi will help facilitate these committees by working with new faculty to identify senior investigators with track-records of outstanding mentorship. These committees, which meet bimonthly for a year, will be impactful to junior faculty by providing guidance on major decisions for starting up a lab (hiring process, service decisions, grant submission strategies), navigating UM systems, identifying resources, and connecting junior faculty with other faculty and collaborators throughout UM. These committees have successfully welcomed junior faculty to the musculoskeletal community and have enabled them to begin their careers at UM on a strong foundation.

Trainee Travel Awards: The Annual Symposium includes a Poster Session organized by Dr. Franceschi. Trainees, staff, and junior faculty are invited to submit abstracts 6-8 weeks prior to the symposium. Trainees may elect to compete for one of 3 travel awards. Dr. Franceschi selects 5 judges to review abstracts of trainees, and the 6 highest scoring abstracts are invited to give a podium presentation at the symposium. The same panel of judges scores the presentations based on the quality of science, significance, impact, verbal communication skills, and relevance to musculoskeletal health. These awards are highly impactful to our trainees by promoting their visibility, career growth, and communication skills.

Research Development and Innovation

Contact: Susan Brooks, PhD (svbrooks@umich.edu)

Research Interest Groups: Research Interest Groups provide focused learning on specific topics, which range from reviewing Specific Aims, didactic sessions, journal clubs, and joint lab meetings. RiGs will be supported through hosting (coffee, snack) and advertising on the MiMHC website including contact information, meeting schedules, and topics. This visibility will help to attract other faculty, staff, and trainees who are interested in joining or forming a RiG.

Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) grant program: Novel and emerging research will be promoted through a P&F program that will provide support to Center investigators for generating preliminary data for grant submissions within the scope of the NIAMS mission. Three pilot awards of $30,000 each will be funded. This pilot grant program will prioritize awards to Assistant Professors and Research Investigators in all tracks, specifically those who have not yet received NIH R01 or equivalent funding. Mid-career faculty (Associate Professors) are also eligible provided they demonstrate that the proposed project represents a significant new direction for their research program. All applicants (regardless of rank) should include a statement of why and how this pilot funding will be useful for them (e.g., career development; establishing independence; pilot data for first R01; new direction for research program; etc.). All applications must align with the NIAMS mission (https://www.niams.nih.gov/about), and all investigators chosen to receive a pilot grant must participate in the MSK Boot Camp program. Prior awardees are not eligible to apply. Those deemed eligible will undergo a full peer-review. Faculty are strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Brooks with questions about eligibility. Competitive projects expected to have high priority for selection will demonstrate a high likelihood that the award will lead to extramural funding; utilize one or more of the MiMHC services; promote new collaborations; develop novel computational or experimental tools that facilitate the ability of researchers to test for sex-differences or interactions among musculoskeletal tissues; and/or include new bioinformatics tools that promote the use of services offered through the new Integrative Data Analytics core. The P&F grant program is managed by Dr. Brooks. Please contact her (svbrooks@umich.edu) with any questions.

Submitting proposals for the 2024 Enrichment Program's P&F grant year is now open! Submit completed applications to Sarah Boston (sjayers@med.umich.edu) by October 13, 2023. Two pilot awards of $30,000 each will be funded this grant period. These awards are intended to support the development and collection of pilot data over a 1 year period leading to a grant submission. Please see the Pilot Grant Program page for more information on applying for Pilot grants.