Success Stories

Success Stories and Testimonials

This page will give you a sense of how I’ve helped clients win grants and contracts.

Success Story #1

      $1.6 Million in NIH R01 Grant Funding

PROBLEM: A scientist at a medical school wanted help making his R01 research plan persuasive. R01s are incredibly difficult to write. There’s constant worry not to lose funding by unintentionally confusing reviewers or overlooking something essential. But to make his challenge even greater, one year earlier NIH introduced a drastically shorter R01 grant format: Now he had to squeeze his research plan into half the space NIH used to provide.

SOLUTION: I focused on helping my client score high with reviewers. Partly this involved improving clarity: for example, rewriting passages that might cause confusion, helping to eliminate inconsistencies between different sections (between Specific Aims and Approach, for instance), and deleting unneeded words to improve readability and make fitting the page limit easier.

To score high, I also helped rewrite to highlight the significance and originality of his work and the thoroughness of his approach and strategy. For example, I helped him improve his explanation of how his approach might change if his initial experimental data failed support his central hypothesis.

After the first submission failed to be funded, I helped my client analyze his Summary Statement and devise a strategy to revise and submit. He strengthened his research plan by adding more preliminary data,  and I again helped him rewrite to help reviewers appreciate the importance and originality of his work and encourage them to score his grant above payline.

RESULT: His R01 grant was funded for $1.6 million over 5 years.

Success Story #2

Helping to Retain a Multimillion Dollar NIH Contract

PROBLEM: An information technology company’s NIH contract for clinical trials data management was up for recompetition. The company wanted to keep the contract, but worried that its RFP proposal written by its staff of non-scientists might not pass scientific evaluation.

SOLUTION: First, as a biomedical subject matter expert, I critiqued the company’s proposal main scientific section (about clinical trials data integration). I pointed out unclear passages, omissions, failures to anticipate likely questions from reviewers, and where it failed to explain how the company’s work benefited NIH. Guided by my critique, the company revised the section successfully.

Next, I rewrote the proposal’s most important section, the 9-page Executive Summary (the Understanding section), which in first draft failed to explain how much the company had helped NIH. After studying background information and interviewing the company’s IT director, I changed the Executive Summary’s focus from the company’s capabilities to how much the company had helped NIH achieve its goals.

The rewritten Executive Summary now showed NIH a complete picture of success in achieving NIH’s goals — and promising an even better future. Major company achievements for NIH omitted in the first draft were now included. The company’s proposed improvements to existing systems and proposed future implementations were also described for the first time. The new Executive Summary presented a far more forceful case that the company remained the best contractor to make NIH’s long-term vision for clinical trials data management a reality.

RESULT: The company won the competition and retained the contract, worth several million over several years.

Success Story #3

Helping a Biotech Startup Win a $2 Million Grant

PROBLEM: An Indianapolis company specializing in proteomics needed a grant to get off the ground.

SOLUTION: My job was to write the grant application. Over the next two months I interviewed the company’s CEO and his collaborators at allied companies and the University of Indiana and Purdue University about their plans for the company. I then produced a detailed outline of the research and commercialization plan for their review. After receiving their go-ahead, I wrote a 10,000-word research and commercialization plan for the grant application. Before submitting the application I took the draft through three rounds of improvement based on their suggestions and criticisms.

RESULT: Peer reviewers ranked the grant in the top 15 of about 120 submitted. It was funded for $2 million over two years.



“Thank you for your edits to highlight and emphasize the strengths of my grant proposal. I found many of your edits to be thoughtful and constructive, and have incorporated them into my grant.” — Tiffany Horng, Harvard University

“Without your expertise in contract proposal and medical writing, we would not have produced a proposal that we were proud to send to the NIH. ” — Michael McKeehen, Pharm-Olam International

As a grant writer, “Mr. Hollon showed a particular ability … to present a clear, logical and coherent case. It is without reservation that we provide a recommendation for Mr. Hollon. We are looking forward to using his services again.” — Nora B. Doherty, BioCrossroads

“Thank you for the edits, suggestions, and changes that emphasized the strengths and innovation of my proposal. I believe that your input made the grant much more persuasive and competitive, increasing the probability of success .” — Victor Levenson, Rush University

“Your skills would be well applied to any kind of writing project, from general reviews to the most scientific papers and grants. ” — Daniel R. Salomon, The Scripps Research Institute

Now that you know the kind of results I’ve helped achieve, click here to know more about me.