Perfect Pitch – 2016

On January 28th, the MDHS ECR Network held the second annual “Perfect Pitch” event aimed at assisting ECRs in developing their grant and fellowship project pitches for this years NHMRC rounds.

The event featured presentations and discussions from four senior academics: Professor David Grayden (Unimelb Engineering), Dr Danny Hatters (Dept Biochem and Mol Biol), Dr Mary Tolcos (RMIT University) and Assoc Professor Amy Brodtman (Florey Institute) all with significant NHMRC reviewing experience. Here are some highlights of the discussion that ensued:

David introduced the “Heilmeier” questions that are used by DARPA to guide their granting decisions. These questions provide a good set of bullet proofing guidelines for your grant and can find them at

Danny discussed some of the vagaries of the GRP process and in particular the dis/advantages of the New Investigator grant initiative. He suggested that it would be a mistake to limit the scientific ambition of a grant in order to go it alone as a New Investigator. However, if the scope of the grant isn’t compromised and the science is excellent, it might be an advantage. It’s a tough decision that many ECRs grapple with for their first grant so seek advice from your mentor.

Mary went into considerable detail describing how ECR Fellowships are scored. Her main piece of advice was to make sure you list your achievements in any easy to score way. For example, make sure you list the numbers of papers, talks, prizes, students supervised, etc. Fellowship panel members will base a significant amount of ranking purely on the numbers of each.

In the second hour, ECRs broke off into smaller groups to swap their grant first pages for constructive critiquing. My personal experience of this process was entirely positive and I have since re-written my first page entirely to take advantage of the different perspectives I received.

We hope all attendees benefited from the afternoon and look forward to bringing you more professional development and peer mentoring events like this throughout the year. If you have any suggestions for events or would like to get involved, don’t hesitate to email us at

Scott Kolbe,
ECR Network Co-Chair.


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