The purpose of this initiative is to promote and support innovative educational scholarship that is designed, implemented, and evaluated by COMSEP members. Selected educational grant(s) will be supported for a total of $5,000 to $10,000. A maximum of three grants will be funded at the $5000 level; in addition, this year the COMSEP Grant Committee is piloting an initiative to fund ONE grant at the $10,000 level. That $10,000 (maximum) project proposal must involve collaboration across learners, institutions and/or educational organizations, in alignment with one of the pillars of our strategic plan.

Mentorship and its associated feedback and guidance are important to COMSEP and so each grant application should include information about the principal investigator’s project mentor, described in greater detail below. The total funding period of the grant is 24 months; hence projects that can be completed in 18 months are advised so that the remainder of the time can be used for data analysis/presentation and manuscript preparation.


This grant program is supported, in part, by generous donations from the Richard T. Sarkin Foundation, celebrating the late Dr. Sarkin’s commitment to creative and innovative teaching and learning in Pediatrics, and from Aquifer, a worldwide consortium of medical educators working together to transform health care education through the effective use of technology in teaching and assessment (https://aquifer.org/).


The principal investigator of the COMSEP grant must be a member of COMSEP at the time of application and through the funding period (click here to learn how to become a member.) The topic of the grant proposal must align with COMSEP’s mission and strategic plan.

Previous COMSEP grantees are welcome to apply with a new project or clearly delineated “next steps” in a previously completed project. Projects that have been completed at the time of application are not eligible for funding. PIs must disclose if their projects are being supported by other funds; projects receiving funding from other sources may still be eligible for a COMSEP grant if the COMSEP award would extend or deepen the work and does not request budgetary allocation for work that the other grant is already supporting.

Application and Submission Process

Proposals are due by Friday, December 6th, 2019, by 5:00 pm Pacific time. 

Proposals are invited this year regardless of whether the Principal Investigator had or had not submitted a Letter of Intent (LOI) to the COMSEP Grant Committee.


As requested by several COMSEP members, here are two examples of recently funded COMSEP grant proposals (PIs for the 2 proposals- Lavjay Butani and Ian Chua-have given permission to post them). There are several ways to approach these proposals, so these are offered in an effort to be helpful, but you need not feel constrained by them.

Grant Example Submission 1 and 2


Projects may include any field of research that focuses on enhancing undergraduate pediatric medical education. Projects might include educational scholarship related to curriculum development (e.g., design, implementation and scholarly evaluation of the impact of innovative curricula), development and validation of assessment or evaluation tools, development and evaluation of instructional materials, or other research focused on enhancing undergraduate pediatric education. To be eligible for the larger grant of up to $10,000, the proposal must explicitly detail how one or more of the following criteria will be met (the more criteria that are met, the higher the priority for funding)

    • The relevance of the study extends beyond undergraduate pediatric medical education-such as a study that addresses pediatric content/competencies but impacts learners beyond medical students on the pediatrics clerkship (pre-clerkship medical students, 4th year medical students, pediatric residents, family practice residents, pediatric sub-specialty fellows or interprofessional learners etc.), i.e. more than ONE learner level is impacted by the study. This criterion could also be met by projects that pertain to faculty development for faculty that will impact more than one learner level.
    • At least ONE co-PI or mentor is someone outside of COMSEP and ideally someone from an educational organization that is appropriate to the study, e.g. Association of Pediatric Program Directors member or a national clerkship organization such as the Association of Directors of Medical Student in Psychiatry or the Society of Teachers in Family Medicine etc.
    • Study subjects are from more than one learner level, and
    • The proposal involves a multi-institutional study
  • All proposals must have IRB approval (if human subjects are involved) in order for grant funds to be awarded. Realizing this takes time, investigators must, at a minimum, demonstrate evidence that their protocols have been submitted to their IRB at the time of submission of the grant application to COMSEP. This could be in the form of a copy of a) an email from the IRB or b) a screen shot from the IRB submission website, documenting successful submission of the grant proposal.
  • The project must identify a single PI for all communication and responsibilities regarding deadlines, funds allocation to the PI’s institution, and submission of reports to the COMSEP Grant Committee. If work is being shared across institutions, it is acceptable for co-PIs to be named in the project narrative; each co-PI must be a COMSEP member. COMSEP Grant Committee members are not eligible to be PIs or co-PIs on a COMSEP grant. A COMSEP member can only be a PI on ONE grant per submission cycle.
  • The PI must identify at least one mentor for the project whose role is to support the proposed scholarship and to assist and provide consultation to the investigative team. This is the case irrespective of whether the PI is new to research/scholarship or an experienced researcher. In the latter case, the PI might select a mentor with expertise to expand the PI’s repertoire of skills, such as related to the project’s focus, or in the analysis or scholarly writing involved in the project. The mentor may either be a 1) faculty member at the PI’s home institution or 2) COMSEP member from any institution. It is acceptable to have more than one mentor to guide the PI in different aspects of the study design/analysis. Please note that COMSEP Grant Committee members cannot serve as formal mentors to the research team. However, we are here to assist in any way we can to help facilitate the team’s work and can provide advice/consultation to the team at any stage during or after the submission and implementation phases of the project.COMSEP grants must include direct costs only; COMSEP grants do not provide indirect costs to the home institution or university. Funds cannot be utilized for travel to COMSEP meetings. With appropriate justification that aligns with disseminating the grant project’s findings or learning information or skills specific to this project’s activities, travel may be approved to other conferences. While the funds can be used to support the effort of consultants (such as statisticians, research assistant etc.) funds CANNOT be used to support the PI’s or co-PI’s SALARY. While funds can be used to defray publication costs, beware of predatory publishers. For more information please review this link (https://blog.unmc.edu/library/2017/04/03/identifying-predatory-publishers/)
  • Work that has been previously published will not be accepted, but proposals to conduct next steps or next iteration or expansion/continuation of such work will be considered for review.

Proposal Priorities

  • Grant proposals that align with COMSEP’s Strategic Plan, are responsive to the requirements of this Call for Proposals, and present a sound approach to an important topic or potentially valuable innovation in pediatric undergraduate medical education and beyond will receive the highest priority.
  • Awardees must plan to have data for submission to either the platform or poster session of the 2021 COMSEP meeting. Acceptance for presentation is not guaranteed, but submission by grant awardees is required. In addition, grantees will be expected to present some data, even if preliminary, at a Work-In-Progress Session during the 2020 COMSEP Annual meeting. Thus, the scope of work for the project should be reasonable and practical, such that it is feasible to generate preliminary data within 9-12 months and can be completed in about 18 months, with a final few months for writing and dissemination activities. The total funding period of the grant is 24 months. A pilot project to generate data for a larger grant submission in the effort to inform or scale up the study in the future is strongly encouraged.

Format of the COMSEP Grant (to be uploaded as an Adobe PDF file only)
All proposals must include the following information in the order outlined below:

  • Abstract
    • Limit length to 30 lines or less of text
    • Include the project’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims
    • Include a description of the research design and methods for achieving the stated goals
    • Write in plain language, so even a non-researcher can understand the importance of the project
  • Introduction
    • Why the topic is important to undergraduate pediatric medical education
    • A literature review that articulates what is already known about the topic and identifies the existing gap
    • A clear statement of hypothesis (if a research study) or a clear description of project scope and purpose (if an educational innovation project)
  • Methods/Materials
    • Description of a methodology that is appropriate to the question(s) or project plan
    • A clear and detailed study design including elements such as: a description of population to be studied or involved, appropriate sampling methods, the types of instruments or techniques planned for measurement with a rationale (including validity evidence) for the instruments selected, and if instruments or materials are to be developed, whether this is feasible for the scope and timetable of the project
  • Evaluation/Analysis
    • An evaluation plan that is appropriate for the study design and one that addresses each proposed outcome measure.
    • Rationale for the evaluation(s) or statistical methods selected (PIs may benefit from consultation/input from a statistical expert in developing this section). The following members of COMSEP’s Research and Scholarship task Force have expressed interest and willingness in providing consultation to grant applicants- Drs. Jan Hanson (Janice.Hanson@ucdenver.edu) and Terry Kind (tkind@childrensnational.org) for Qualitative studies and Drs. Caroline Paul (crpaul@wisc.edu) & Amal Khidir (amk2005@qatar-med.cornell.edu) for Quantitative study designs
  • Anticipated Outcomes and Results
    • Discussion of the anticipated and possible alternative outcomes and how they will be informative in advancing the field
    • If you are applying for the larger $10,000 (maximum) grant, please explicitly describe in this section how the proposal meets the eligibility criteria and why the study cannot be completed without the additional funding.
  • Future steps
    • Description of the next steps (for example, scale up or further funding potential), generalized use of the project product or findings, or potential integration into other learning settings
  • Budget and Timeline
    • An adequately detailed budget with clear justification for funds and one that conforms to previously stated criteria
    • A realistic and practical timeline that will permit study completion in 18 months

Proposal narratives should be limited to 2 single-spaced pages or 1000 words (for the $5000 grants) or 3 single-spaced pages or 1500 words (for the $10,000 grants), not including the following

  • The cover page/initial information (including the institutional grants officer name/contact information)
  • the Abstract
  • a list of works cited (reference list) at the end of the proposal
  • the budget (with justification): 1 page
  • the time line
  • brief biosketches (no more than 2 pages each for the PI and the mentor)
  • letters of support from the Department Chair and at least one Project Mentor; the Project Mentors should explicitly describe their expertise in being able to contribute to this scholarly project and their willingness to guide the PI and facilitate completion of the project
  • evidence of IRB submission or approval
  • Proposals should be in a font not smaller than 12 pt, with margins not narrower than 1 inch at top, bottom, and each side.
  • Appendices are not permitted.

Review Process and Guidelines

  • All submissions will be reviewed by at least two members of the COMSEP Grant Committee. We are committed to providing an instructive critique for each proposal, including those that are not accepted. This will allow investigators to pursue their ideas by paying attention to reviewer comments and potentially re-writing their proposals for other funding opportunities. Proposals will be judged “Approved for Funding,” “Not Approved for Funding,” and “Not initially approved for funding but resubmission recommended.” The Committee reserves the right to ask for changes in the grant before funding is approved.
  • The Committee will give highest priority to those projects that are aligned with COMSEP’s Strategic Plan, advance undergraduate pediatric medical education in innovative ways, adhere to the guidelines listed above, are appropriate in scope, have an appropriate budget, have the potential for generalizability, have strong mentorship outlined and have the potential for future grant submissions.
  • The number of proposals funded will be dependent on the number and quality of submissions.

Acquiring Funds, Progress and Final Reports

  • It is the PI’s responsibility to see that the grants office or officer designated in the proposal requests the project funds no later than 90 days after the date on the letter confirming successful application/funding. The start date of the grant is considered as the date on the letter confirming successful application/funding. Funds not retrieved within 90 days of the award letter are no longer available for the project.
  • The PI of each funded proposal will submit a progress report at a minimum at 9 and 21 months following the awarding of funds (for review by the COMSEP Grant Committee). This report must include 1) progress to date, 2) barriers and strategies/plans to address these, 3) budget expenditures, and 4) project activity anticipated in the next 12 months and/or dissemination plans.
  • Funds remaining after 24 months must be returned to COMSEP if a request for no-cost extension is not made by the PI and approved by the COMSEP Grant Committee six (6) weeks before the 2-year period of the grant terminates.
  • All presentations or publication of scholarly work must acknowledge COMSEP as the sponsor of the work, with the following suggested narrative: This work was supported by a grant to the author from the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics (COMSEP), with funding contributed in part by MedU and in part by the Richard T. Sarkin Foundation for Medical Education to COMSEP.

This is an exciting opportunity for COMSEP members to advance their educational scholarship with innovative research, to expand the scholarly activities of COMSEP members, departments and the COMSEP organization as a whole. Please email Dr. Lavjay Butani (lbutani@ucdavis.edu), Chair of the COMSEP Grant Committee, with questions or if you would like assistance in networking with collaborators within or outside of COMSEP.

Chair- Lavjay Butani, MD, MACM

Interested in joining the Grants Committee? Please apply here.

COMSEP Grant Awardees


Sarkin Foundation Awardee

Melissa Roy, MD, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, LA


Title: EQIC: Early Quality Improvement Curriculum

Mentor: Michael Bolton, MD michael.bolton@fmolhs.org 


Veronica Gonzalez, MD, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth


Title: Predictors of Success: From Medical Student to Pediatric Resident

Mentor: Mark Hormann, MD mark.d.hormann@uth.tmc.edu

Meghan Treitz, MD, University of Colorado Denver


Title: A Tool to Evaluate the Quality of Narrative Assessment Data

Mentor: Jan Hanson, PhD, janicehanson@wustle.edu


Past Grant Awardees


Eve Colson, MD Richard Sarkin Foundation/COMSEP Awardee
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Yale School of Medicine
Project title: Medical, Nursing, and
Physician Assistant Student Perspectives about Interprofessional Education (IPE)
Funded 2013

Amy Guiot, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Division of Hospital Medicine
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Project title: Closing the Gap in Handoff Communications: Evaluating the Effects of an IPASS Medical Student Handoff Bundle
Funded 2013

Dr. Jennifer Trainor
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Project Title: Pediatric Skills Boot Camp for M4 Students
Dr. Bill McGagahie initially served as mentor-has departed the institution, shifted to Dr. Mark Adler
Chair: Dr. Thomas Green
Dr. Trainor serves as the second COMSEP/Richard Sarkin Foundation Awardee
Funded 2012

Dr. Jimmy Beck
Children’s National Medical Center
George Washington University
Project Title: Professional Identity Formation Among Medical Students Who Volunteer at a Medical Specialty Camp
Mentor: Dr. Terry Kind
Chair: Dr. Mark Batshaw
Funded 2012

Dr. Irene Hong-McAtee,
Dept of Pediatrics, U Kentucky
Project Title: Evaluating Attitudinal Change in a Basic Science Curriculum in the Peditric 4th Year Acting Internship.
Mentor: Dr. Charles Griffith, Office of the Dean, U Kentucky
Chair: Dr. J. Timothy Bricker
Funded 2011

Dr. Lisa Leggio, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Health Sciences University,
Title: Handover CEX: A validation Study.
Mentor: Dr. Deborah Richardson, Education Discovery Institute, Georgia Health Sciences University
Chair: Dr. Bernard Maria
Dr. Leggio serves as the first COMSEP/Sarkin Foundation awardee.
Funded 2011

Jocelyn Huang Schiller, M.D.
University of Michigan, Department of Pediatrics
Project Title: Parental Assessment of Medical Students’ E-Mails
Mentor: Patricia B. Mullan, Ph.D.
Chair: Valerie Castle, M.D.
Funded 2010

Dr. Lavjay Butani
University of California at Davis , Department of Pediatrics
Project Title: Clerkship Students’ Assessment of Resident Performance
Chair: Anthony F. Philipps, MD
Mentors: Su-Ting Li, MD, MPH, and Debora A. Paterniti, PhD
Funded 2009

Dr. Erin K. Balog
Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Bethesda, MD
Mentor: Janice L. Hanson, Ph.D., Ed.S.
Chair: Ildy Katona, MD
Project Title: Designing and Evaluating a Pediatric Clerkship Health Supervision Curriculum
Funded 2009

Dr. Linda Lewin
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
Project Title: Improving Student Oral Presentation Skills Using Guided Self-Assessment
Mentor: Dr Carol Carraccio
Chair: Steven J. Czinn, MD
Funded 2008

Dr. John Kunzer
Indiana University School of Medicine , Department of Pediatrics
Project Title: The Relationship between Medical Student Burnout and Perceptions of Professionalism
Funded 2008
Mentor: Dr. Mitch Harris
Chair: Richard L. Schreiner, MD, Chair

Dr. Robin Deterding chaired the COMSEP Research Grants Committee prior to my chairmanship. She shifted the chairship to me at the COMSEP meeting in Atlanta Georgia (Research Grants Committee Meeting, April 2, 2008). At that meeting, three (3) grant submissions were considered. We approved and funded two projects: Dr. Lewin’s and Dr. Kunzer’s. I believe there might have been one set of grant submissions (2007?) prior to the 2008 meeting.