If you did not bring a data set to analyze during the workshop, this exercise will help formulate a study question for a hypothetical grant application. For this grant, consider how epigenetics may integrate into our understanding of a mechanism relevant to your research interests. Visit PubMed (or Web of Science, etc.) to see what epigenetic questions have already been investigated, and what questions remain. After you have developed an innovative hypothesis, think about the appropriate data set to address this question. Is there existing data that can be explored? Is there an established cohort that could be used? What would be the most appropriate study design? To help organize your ideas, I have outlined some of the specific elements of a grant below.
For inspiration, here is an expired NIH RFA specific to social and behavior epigenetics:
- Brief background and what will be gained by the proposed study
- Two or three specific aims
- Specific aims should not build on each other, if the findings of specific aim 1 are null, it should not preclude specific aim 2
- Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
- If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved?
- How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
- Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions?
- Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense?
- Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?
- At this point, only consider the study design and population