Postdoctoral researcher in prevention, Maria Theresa Redaniel

Career background

Theresa was awarded a Masters degree in Public Health Epidemiology from the University of the Philippines-Manila in 2000. Afterwards, she worked for various organisations including MOST-USAID, the Philippine Department of Health and the University of the Philippines on projects funded by the WHO, Japan Science and Technology and USAID. Theresa completed a PhD at the University of Heidelberg, Germany in 2010, while based at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

Currently, Theresa has a post-doctoral fellowship from Cancer Research UK (2012) looking at the effect of waiting times on cancer survival and cancer survival inequalities. In 2013, she was awarded funding by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a pilot study on suicide epidemiology in the Philippines.

The application process

How do you decide which grants to apply for?

I check the different funding agencies, the current schemes and themes they are funding and decide which is most suitable for the project I have in mind. Alternatively, I look at the funding schemes and develop a proposal suitable for the scheme.

In terms of bureaucracy, what are the most time-consuming steps in submitting a grant?

Getting the necessary approvals and signatures from the Head of Section, Head of School and Head of Research and Development is time-consuming. In the case of multi-centre and international studies, getting approvals and ethics clearance from the collaborating institutes requires weeks if not a couple of months. Getting the budget approved and signed off by the Finance Department of the home institute would also need at least a week

How do you deal with complex things, like costings and ethical approval?

Costs can be estimated by inquiring from other researchers with experience of the methods / databases you would be implementing / using. Also, involve the collaborators, clinical research networks and hospital trusts when costing because there might be some administrative or operational costs you do not know about.

For research within the NHS, the NHS has guidelines for REC applications. For studies outside the NHS, one should inquire about the process for ethical approval from the sponsor.

Advice on applying for funding

Ask people around about the process, their experiences applying for funding schemes, costing, problems encountered, etc. These would help you in planning your time for the grant application process and in planning the actual research.

The research 

What makes a successful grant?

Relevance of the research question, good presentation of the case for the research, feasibility of the proposed study and appropriateness of the methods.

Getting feedback from colleagues on your research proposal

Essential. Get feedback in good time and work on the proposal if necessary before submission. There are some aspects that other people might see or know that you have not considered.

Pitfalls and advice

Don't get tunnel vision. Accept and consider feedback from people.

Make sure you consult several experts and the NHS before finalising the methodology.

The reviews of my grant helped me revise the methods to make it more feasible and applicable in the NHS in the midst of the reorganisation. As I was doing multi-methods research, it also helped me integrate the different components of the research so that they better complemented each other.

Find out more about this funding

Theresa's advice for new applicants

"Make sure you consult several experts and the NHS before finalising the methodology."

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