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How to Write a Successful NIH Career Development Award (K Award)

Workshop Overview

One of the greatest challenges in establishing an academic career is bridging the gap between the beginning stages of such a career as a doctoral students, post-doc, or fellow and the subsequent one as a scientist able to contribute their scientific area.  This gap has been well recognized by both the NIH and be national (and local) scientific organizations and funding mechanisms and policies have been established to facilitate this transition.  This workshop will hep you to better understand the different K award grant mechanism and will propose strategies to optimize chances of funding, in order to successfully complete the challenging transition to established investigator.  In a time of tight federal budgets it is imperative that each applicant submit an outstanding application. 

The goals for this presentation are the following:

  • To provide an overview of career development, progression, and advancement.
  • To educate course participants about the various K mechanism.
  • To provide tips for writing a successful K Award.
  • To help participants develop a timeline for completion of the grant.
  • To describe common pitfalls.


Mark H. Roltsch, PhD., Assistant Vice President for Research Director of Research Sponsored Programs, University of West Florida

Workshop Details

When: Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 at 9:00-10:30am
Where:Psychology Building B, Room A204


Presenter Bio

Mark H. Roltsch, PhD

Dr. Mark Roltsch received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute in civil engineering, his MS in kinesiology from James Madison University and his PhD from the University of Maryland in exercise physiology. He spent 2 years at the Howard University Cancer Center as a post-doc investigating the physiological and biochemical mechanism by which regular physical activity interventions lead to reducing the risk of cancer. After finishing his post-doc he accepted a position for a NASA contractor as a Peer Review Administrator in charge of all NASA grant reviews related to humans in space. Most of the science was addressing bone and muscle loss as well as other physiological changes that stem from being in space for extended periods of time. An opportunity became available for Mark at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institute for Health (NIH) and in July 2005 he joined the Office of Scientific Review at NHLBI as a Scientific Review Officer. Over the course of several years he rose to the position of Deputy Chief of the Clinical Trials and Training Branch in the Office of Scientific Review (OSR). During his time at NIH as a Review Officer he led and organized over 80 NIH peer review study sections. In 2010 Mark moved from the OSR to the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences as a Program Director in the Office of Research Training and Career Development. He was responsible for promoting opportunities for investigators, early in their research careers to perform basic, preclinical or clinical cardiovascular research. He also managed and supported the NHLBI training and career development programs in cardiovascular research. When he left NHLBI his grant management portfolio consisted of 283 training and research grants worth over $150 million. On August 1, 2012 Mark moved to St Mary’s University, a Hispanic Serving Institution in San Antonio, as the Executive Director of the Office of Academic Research and Sponsored Projects. When he made a career change and moved to St. Mary’s University, he had the opportunity to utilize the leaderships skills, training, and knowledge of grant development that he had developed over 7 years at NIH to use in a new career as a director of a sponsored research office at a post-secondary institution. During the three-year period at St. Mary’s University, he increased grant funding from $2 million to $8 million. He also wrote and was funded on an NIH Biomedical/Biobehavioral Research Administration Development (BRAD) application to support and build research administration and increased biomedical research at St. Mary’s and a Department of Defense contract to develop a testing program for police officers. Dr. Roltsch’s funding percentage for the University his last year was an astonishing 72% funding rate. In November of 2015 Dr. Roltsch joined the University of West Florida as the Assistant Vice President for Research and the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs. In his first year he increased research funding 10% from the previous year. This past year he worked with faculty to submit 170 grants for over $50 million a 44% and 72% increase from last year. Dr. Roltsch has traveled around the US giving grant writing workshops at Universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins. He is still an avid snowboarder and outdoorsmen, enjoying hiking, mountain biking, swimming and doing activities with his children. He was inducted into the Virginia Military Sports Hall of Fame for spring board diving in 2000.



Please contact Rachel Goff-Albritton ( with any questions.