Co-writing a grant

This year started with a fun challenge, to write a collaborative KAW grant with a close colleague, Katharina Lahl.

Katha is a true mucosal immunologist and cool person. We began working together for the first time over two years ago as teachers in the immunology course for Master students in the Biomedicine program. It didn’t take long before we realised that we shared a lot in common, including coming from long research experiences in the US (although on different coasts), setting up our research groups in BMC (although on different wings). And did I mention that we are both female group leaders of similar age? Something that is still rare enough to make me curious about working with her. Last but not least, our research programs which started from very different points of interest have serendipitously converged in a shared obsession with neonatal B cell biology.

Is it fate? Or are neonatal B cells just that important :-p

Our co-authoring of the grant was a surprisingly smooth ride. Yes we needed to learn each others perspectives when it came to neonatal B cell biology from the developmental and infection angles respectively. This was the hard part. Getting out of my own bubble to see another viewpoint is definitely a mental challenge but a rewarding exercise and reality check. Like everyone else, I fall prey to selective consumption of literature that agrees with my scientific world view, and like in politics, it is so eye opening to see someone else’s truth. On the whole, we worked seamlessly together. I wrote in the mornings, she wrote in the afternoons. We scrapped grant aims, just to bring them back a week later. We got stuck, talked on the phone, and got unstuck. To my delight, the collaborative writing process pretty much precluded any writers block. We had weekly meetings to align ourselves, which usually ended in major re-organisation of the grant and the realization that we had more work left than we thought.

Somehow, the pieces fell into place and we co-created something genuine that we could not have done by ourselves. Whether this is funded or not, it was a great new experience to kick off 2020 and I hope one day the proposed work will see the light of Pubmed.

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