Funded Grant Review Program

The University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus Dean is pleased to offer external paid grant reviews for all faculty to enhance the competitiveness of their grant proposal submissions. The external paid grant review program will provide up to $600 in funds to pay for two external peer grant reviews of faculty grant proposals prior to submission. Selected reviewers must not have an appointment or be affiliated with the University of Minnesota to be eligible.

What: External Paid Grant Review

Who: All Duluth Medical School Faculty

When: The funds are awarded once Associate Dean for Research (ADR) reviews the grant proposal.

Grant Types: Full draft applications and Specific Aims page for major grant funding mechanisms are accepted for review. Total grant award must be greater than or equal to $200,000, such as NIH K or R series award; or American Heart Association, national American Cancer Society, or national American Diabetes Association, or other similar major research funders.

Funding: $300 per review, up to 2 reviews, $600 total.

General Review Guidelines: PI submits grant application three to four weeks (four weeks strongly recommended) before the internal deadline (date that the PI must submit proposal to grants management staff). Each application will undergo a brief internal review by ADR to insure it is ready to go out externally.   PI will be notified within three to five business days as to whether their proposal has been approved for the external review program.

PI's Are Responsible For

  • Identifying the two reviewers who are willing to conduct reviews;
  • Providing the review criteria and form that will be used by the funding agency to evaluate the grant application; and
  • Report on the results of their submission and provide brief feedback for program evaluation purposes to their Department Head and ADR.

If the PI is a junior faculty member, it may be helpful for their mentor to make the initial request/introduction to the reviewer(s) on their behalf. An invitation template is included (see last page).

Modeled on a successful CTSI-Ed program, the recommendation is that the PI identify with the reviewer a 5-day time period in which they will have to conduct their review. This will maximize time available to the PI to prepare the grant while giving the reviewer adequate time for the review.  Communicating and working with the potential reviewer’s schedule will facilitate helpful and timely input. Ideally, requesting reviewers to accomplish their review sequentially rather than concurrently is best. This allows the PI to receive a review, incorporate feedback, and then receive another review.

Reviewers should be prepared to provide feedback two to three weeks before the internal grant deadline to allow two weeks for the PI to use feedback. Reviewers will be paid upon their timely return of the review to the PI and the PI’s completion and return of evaluation to the program.

Submission Process

Each applicant must include a 1-page cover letter with their proposal; the letter should be addressed to Department Head and ADR and should contain the following information:

  • Internal department deadline, agency and type of proposal.
  • The name of the funding agency to which the proposal will be submitted and the due date of the proposal to the funding agency. Include a copy of the FOA that you are responding to or links to the FOA if applicable.
  • The PI’s NIH biosketch.
  • Specific Aims page.
  • A list of co-investigators and consultants who will be included in the grant.
  • Total direct costs estimated for the entire funding period.

A list of 2 possible reviewers, including full contact information, and the applicant’s relationship (if any) to each person.

Once the grant has been approved by ADR for the external review:

  1. PI emails copies of the grant to the reviewers individually and copies Administrative Center Director (ACD).
  2. ACD will request payment information from reviewer.
  3. Reviewer emails PI with comments and copies ADR.
  4. PI and reviewer hold 30-minute follow-up phone call.
  5. PI informs ADR and ACD that the call has taken place.
  6. ACD contacts the reviewer with a payment document.

In return for the $300 honorarium, the reviewer will provide the following:

  1. A full read of the grant in track-changes format.
  2. Completed evaluation form from the funding agency used to evaluate the submitted grant application.
  3. 30-minute follow-up phone call to discuss comments.

Expand all

Sample Invitation Template


My name is < Assistant> Associate Professor in at the University of Minnesota. I conduct research in <and my mentor (Insert name) recommended that I contact you>.


I am planning to submit a grant proposal to_____ for the_____ deadline. I have access to a program, through the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus

that offers faculty external paid grant reviews to enhance the competitiveness of our grant proposal submissions.


I am writing to request that you review my application.  Our Duluth Campus Dean can offer a $300 honorarium to you in exchange for the following:

1. A full read of the grant in track changes.

2. Completed evaluation form from the funding agency used to evaluate the submitted grant application, which I will provide.

3. 30-minute follow-up phone call to discuss comments.


If you agree to proceed and my proposal is approved, I would like to identify a 5-day review period for you to review my grant. Please let me know if you would be willing to review my proposal by_________ .  If you agree to complete the review, our Administrative Center Director will contact you for payment arrangements.


Thank you for your consideration,

Internal Resources

Check out these essential University research-related resources.

●      COVID-19 Guidance for the Research Community

●      Advanced Pathways to Research Program (A-PReP)

●      Student Research Opportunities

●      Education & Training Ethics

●      Research Compliance Training Guide

●      University Policy Library: Research