About this Session

In this session you will review strategies for writing a compelling specific aims page for a grant proposal, as well as learn the steps for writing your first manuscript.

Preparing for Class


Posted here after class

In-Class Activity

For this activity, you will go back in time to the year 2000. It was an interesting time. The dot-com boom was about to bust. The US Supreme Court elevated George W. Bush to the White House. Britney Spears was at the top of the charts with “Oops!…I did it again”. This was also the year that the Weiss et al. systematic review of male circumcision and HIV dropped.

Weiss, H. A., Quigley, M. A., & Hayes, R. J. (2000). Male circumcision and risk of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis. AIDS, 14(15), 2361-2370.

You’ll recall from your reading in the previous module that this systematic review looked at all of the available evidence from observational studies about the association between male circumcision and protection against HIV transmission. The authors concluded:

The data from observational studies provide compelling evidence of a substantial protective effect of male circumcision against HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in populations at high risk of HIV/ STD. The continuing rapid spread of HIV infection, especially in eastern and southern Africa, suggests that the potential public health benefit of introducing safe services for male circumcision on a wider scale should be explored. However, there are many concerns around such an introduction, including the possibility that men may increase their risky sexual behaviour if they think circumcision confers a high degree of protection, as well as the risk of bleeding or infection, cost, and issues of cultural identity. Studies are therefore needed to examine the acceptability, feasibility and safety of introducing male circumcision as an HIV/STD prevention strategy in high prevalence areas where men are not traditionally circumcised…In areas where male circumcision is acceptable to the local community, randomized controlled trials of male circumcision performed by trained health workers as part of a package intervention incorporating safe sex education are needed. Such trials would overcome the inherent limitations of observational studies, and provide reliable empirical evidence on the overall impact of the introduction of male circumcision on HIV incidence.

Your task is to write bullets for a specific aims section of a funding proposal for one of these future studies. A specific aims section is typically a 1-page document with 4 paragraphs:

  1. Introduction
  2. Who, what, why
  3. Aims
  4. Payoff

See the handout for more details.

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