Surgery is a labor-intensive, time-consuming profession. Young faculty members in surgery are saddled with many clinical time constraints that often allow precious few moments for academic pursuits. Consequently, K award submissions from surgeons trail nonsurgeons. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, is actively trying to encourage participation of surgeons in basic science research, translational research, clinical outcomes research, and even in prevention/control research. But, at the same time, the NIH has newly implemented a policy that has made the grant review process more restrictive by only allowing 2 submissions of any grant application. It is imperative, therefore, for junior faculty surgeons to learn "grantsmanship" and have the ability to construct succinct, competitive K award grants. Although most of this information is public knowledge and made available by the NIH itself, many of the practical points presented here are tailored to the special needs of clinically active surgical researchers. Often, these "hints" are buried on expansive websites that require considerable time to read and navigate. The authors have a long combined experience on a study section dedicated to adjudicating K awards. The goal of this review is to present concise, useful information about common errors, research plan dos and don'ts, template examples of superior mentored letters, and many other suggestions that may assist any first-time candidate for these awards.
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