Grants Manual

What is a VUSN Grant? Who Must Follow the Policies Listed?

Faculty who meet any of the following criteria, must follow the policies listed in this manual:

Faculty who:

  • receives money or other support for research, service or education projects.
  • is a VUSN Principal Investigator or Project Director for a grant (amount of the grant does not matter).
  • is a VUSN Site Principal Investigator or Project Director for a grant (this is to include a grant that might be held by another entity like a community agency or other agency).

If the steps and policies listed in this manual are not followed, VUSN cannot guarantee acceptance and participation in the grant even if it is awarded.

If a faculty member has accepted money in her or his own name as part of completion of project requirements for a degree outside of VUSN, the faculty member is responsible for all aspects of management, reporting and compliance. This is not a VUSN grant by its very nature. VUSN has no opinion regarding tax consequences; the faculty member should consult her/his tax advisor.

General Guidelines for PI Proposal Submission

  1. Begin the process as early as possible. In case of an RO1, nine months should be allotted.
  2. Contact internal/external reviewers to determine when they will be available. You will need to revise per their feedback so allow at least a month between receipt of their feedback and the submission deadline. For example, if grant is due June 5, contact reviewers in January and February and determine their availability for review of your “close to final” proposal in April so that they can return it to you in early May.
  3. You must alert the appropriate Senior Associate Dean(s) regarding the date you will have a close to final product for them to review. Review is labor intensive and cannot be done well in a rush. Additionally, other equally pressing responsibilities may result in inability to review before the submission deadline with the result that the grant cannot be submitted. You should allow at least two weeks prior to the submission deadline for the final internal review with processing.
  4. Preparing a competitive grant requires extensive and expensive resources. Ensuring the best possible quality of each submission will reduce the costs associated with unsuccessful attempts.

Proposal Submission Steps

  1. Principal Investigator (PI)/ Program Director (PD) develops idea for project and identifies possible sponsored funding source. At this point, the PI should prepare a 2 page overview to be used when he/she meets with the responsible Senior Associate Dean.
    • a. The overview should include:
      • specific aims and design
      • viability of idea in terms of science, available resources and PI readiness
      • potential funding sources
      • scheduling of work/timetable of preparation activities
      • identification of help needed to complete proposal
      • how grant will be reviewed (internal and external) prior to submission.
    Based on this discussion, the Senior Associate Dean will assign resources to assist with grant preparation or counsel the faculty member to pursue other options.
  2. PI meets with his/her supervising Senior Associate Dean to get approval to pursue grant.
  3.  Prior to grant submission but during the grant writing process, the PI/PD makes an appointment with the Senior Associate Dean of Research, Grant Manager (GM) and Research Team Leader to discuss the budget, space and equipment needs, and research assistance for proposal submission. No grant budget may assume additional Vanderbilt School of Nursing support without the written agreement of the Senior Associate Dean for Research.
  4. Space and equipment needs are entered into the Research and Equipment database by the GM.
  5. PI/PD works with supervisors of all named personnel to ensure willingness to release these individuals should the grant be funded.
  6. PI/PD completes draft proposal with Center for Research Development and Scholarship (CRDS) help as previously determined and submits it for review prior to submission. The review will be that agreed upon during Step 2.
  7. The GM completes a draft budget and returns it to PI/PD for review. GM revises budget based on PI’s revisions and circulates it along with the draft proposal to obtain required authorizations.
  8. After Senior Associate Dean for Research receives reviews of grant, required signatures/statements listed below are completed.
    • Required Signatures:
      • Principal Investigator/Program Director
      • Grants Manager (Budget)
      • Supervising Senior Associate Dean of PI
      • Supervisor/Chair of all other named personnel
      • Dean of the School of Nursing
      • Authorized Signing Official for VU
    Based on this discussion, the Senior Associate Dean will assign resources to assist with grant preparation or counsel the faculty member to pursue other options.
    • Other signatures based on nature of proposal (regardless of PI’s appointment) :
      • Senior Associate Dean for Academics - Dr. Schorn must review all academic and scholarly grants
      • Senior Associate Dean for Practice - Dr. Jones must review all practice grants/contracts
      • Senior Associate Dean for Research - Dr. Piano must review all research grants
      • Senior Associate Dean for Informatics - Dr. Weiner must review all grants involving informatics
    • Conflict of Interest Statement for PHS and NSF proposals :
      • All faculty listed on proposal must sign
    • If personnel from other schools are included:
      • Signature of chairman of respective school
      • Signature of dean of respective school
      • Signature of Sponsored Research Department (for non-medical center personnel)
    • If personnel from other institutions are included:  Consultants: Letter of agreement to participate Personnel paid a portion of salary:
      • Letter of agreem ent to participate
      • Consortium agreement (letter of intent form) signed by institutional representative.
  9. PI/PD provides final documents to GM (or designee) for assembly per grant guidelines & PI instructions. GM sends to Signing Official for submission to funding agency. GM (or designee) prepares copies of final document, retains one for Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and distributes others as indicated by Vanderbilt University polices and PI/PD needs.

Post Notification Steps

  1. Notify via email the Sr. Associate Dean for Research, supervising Sr. Associate Dean and Grants Manager (GM) as soon as possible that an award is imminent. Forward any communications from agency regarding this award.
  2. As soon as award notification arrives:
    • The overview should include:
    • a. Notify  Sharon Stinson regarding PR announcements
    • b. Forward copy of award & terms to GM
    • c. Complete Effort Certification Training and provide date it was taken to the GM. (Must re-certify at intervals specified by VU policy.)
    • d. Complete IRB application and provide IRB approval letter to GM.
    • e. Coordinate with GM to establish a cost center.
  3. Set up meeting with Sr. Associate Dean of Research and GM to review resource needs and finalize project and budget based on actual funding as well as other administrative/scientific issues. Topics of the meeting will include:
    • a. Personnel: Identify how grant paid positions will be filled
      • Faculty release time
      • New staff: full time, part time
      • Student RAs
    • b. Resources: Identify what must be purchased by grant and when
      • Equipment
      • Computers/printers
      • Office space, telephones, etc.
      • Long distance v-net, copy code, etc.
      • Other specialized items
    • c. Science: Intellectual property, data, inventions & publications
    • d. Contracting issues if Vanderbilt School of Nursing is the subcontract, or has one with another institution
  4. Determine start date of project. Notify GM, personnel and staff assigned to the project.

During the Grant: Project Management/ Grant Administration General Guidelines

  1. Terms and Conditions
    Upon receipt of award, be sure to review the terms and conditions. They are outlined in the award document and failure to comply may result in disallowance of funds. Review upon occasion to be sure reporting requirements are addressed.
  2. Progress
    Alert your respective Senior Associate Dean regarding your progress and any problems. In most cases a progress report to the granting agency is due at least annually. Coordinate with Grants Manager to submit required reports well before the deadline to ensure that all requirements are met.
  3. Changes
    During the life of a grant, changes occur. Personnel may change, effort might increase or decrease, a change in scope may result in the need to re-budget or require additional resources, etc. Be sure to notify GM and appropriate parties of any change as soon as it has been identified. This will ensure that payments/expenditures are accurate and up to date.
  4. Funding
    Periodically assess funding levels against project timeline. Is there a significant balance remaining because certain project activities have been delayed? Are funds being expended more quickly than anticipated? Will you need to request carry forward or a no-cost extension in order to complete the project? The GM reviews expenditures and will alert PI to any issues identified through the accounting system; however, a meeting can be arranged any time the PI wishes in order to assess funding level.
  5. Publicity During the Grant
    Follow Vanderbilt University rules regarding any requests from the media. Contact Kathy Rivers regarding questions you may have.
  6. Intellectual Property
    If issues arise regarding intellectual property, immediately contact the Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization ( and the School of Nursing Associate Dean for Research.

Grant/Contract Termination Steps

  1. Grants Manager notifies PI/PD and appropriate Senior Associate Dean a minimum of 90 days before grant ends. If a no-cost extension is needed, contact the GM and appropriate Senior Associate Dean as soon as this is ascertained.
  2. PI meets with GM to discuss close-out:
    • a. Outstanding expenses and when they will charge to the grant
    • b. Reassignment or termination of personnel (faculty, staff, students)
    • c. Cancellation of v-nets, copy codes, calling cards, standing orders, etc.
    • d. Termination of subcontracts
    • e. Data storage/IP
    • f. Reallocation of space and equipment
  3. 30-90 days after grant end date (depending on grant terms) PI/PD will:
    • a. Submit final progress report to agency (copy to GM).
    • b. Notify  Sharon Stinson regarding any significant findings that the School of Nursing should publicize. (Note: This can occur at any time during the project as findings occur.)
    • c. Coordinate with Grants Manager to submit Final Invention Statement and Financial Status Report to agency.