The Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW) and its Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA) have launched the Grants & Research IniTiative (GRIT), a monthly research group/webinar designed to provide a space for investigators to receive constructive feedback from peers on grant proposals while learning about grant writing, research methods, and implementation science from experienced senior investigators. The initiative provides a forum for low- and middle-income country (LMIC) partner sites linked to National Institute of Mental Health-funded Collaborative Hubs for International Research on Mental Health to participate in webinars, while also offering opportunities for BCSSW faculty to participate.
“We are very excited about the potential impact of the GRIT group and the linkages we are building between low-resource setting investigators and our wonderful peers and trainees here at Boston College,” says Salem Professor in Global Practice and RPCA Director Theresa Betancourt. “We have great hopes for the future of this initiative to help develop a pipeline of sponsored researchers in global mental health and implementation science.”
Presentations are made, and shared, in a new smart conference room in McGuinn Hall, which provides both a physical and virtual space for the group through its teleconference and webinar capabilities. Many GRIT events are also recorded to allow those in different times zones or low resource settings to access them at a later date. These presentations will provide valuable capacity building support for RPCA partner programs in Sierra Leone, Liberia, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal. The seminar series also provides investigators the opportunity to present new grant proposals in development for peer review to strengthen their submissions.
To date, the group has convened for three presentations. The first was from LeShawndra Price, chief of the Health Inequities and Global Health Branch within the Center for Translational Research and Implementation Science, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Price provided an overview for new investigators looking to pursue federal monies and support for their research. The second, from BCSSW’s Tom Crea, associate professor and assistant dean of global programs, allowed him the opportunity to discuss an impending grant proposal for a project on refugees who are unaccompanied minors. Fellow GRIT members offered feedback on the substance and methodologies he presented ahead of an impending March deadline. Rohit Ramaswamy, clinical associate professor in the Public Health Leadership Program and director of the Center for Global Learning at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, led the most recent seminar, “Implementation Framework for LMIC Settings.”
“GRIT adds a credible and supportive forum for people to share their projects and ideas, both with colleagues within the school, and also, with some of the leaders in the field of global health,” says Associate Dean of Research David Takeuchi. “It also offers an opportunity for faculty members to hone their own grant reviewing skills, a valuable perspective to bring with them as they pursue future endeavors in research.”
The series is co-sponsored by the U19 Youth Forward project (PI: T.S. Betancourt), U19 ESSENCE Hub (PIs: V. Patel & R. Shidhaye), and U19 SPIRIT Hub (PI: S. Pathare), each funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the Boston College School of Social Work.