Q&A with Courtney Miller, new Grant and Contract Manager

“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com

Courtney joined the WaNPRC in March of 2018. She was brought on board during a transition within the Finance Division’s grant operations. This was also amidst Ann Schmidt’s retirement after her 36 years of service here. Courtney describes herself as highly motivated and goal oriented as a senior grant & contract management specialist. She has a Master’s degree and within her 17 years of experience has tested for and achieved credentials as a Certified Research Administrator and Certified Pre-Award Research Administrator.

She has a background clinical and biomedical research and administration within academic, for-profit, and non-profit settings. Her extensive expertise covers the entire grant life cycle with contract management, clinical site and research contracts, federal and non-profit grant applications, awards, subcontracts and sub awards.

Courtney is poised to expand our grant portfolio and increase research funding. These operations have obvious impacts upon all of us employed at the Primate Center.

Could you please briefly describe your role as Grant and Contract Manager?

I am involved in the pre-award phase of the grant application process which includes the non-scientific sections and the routing of the complete application to the Office of Sponsored Programs. I also work with outside investigators on the scope of work, coordinating with Jesse Day and the Finance team to assess that our facilities, resources and capabilities are compatible with their projects.

Have you held prior positions that will help you in your relatively new role here?

In my last position as Grants Manager at Swedish Health Services, I provided entire life-cycle grants management for all research units, from proposal development through closeout. I ensured the timely submission of the Research Performance Progress Reports for their various grants. I was also considered the “resident expert” in the funding agency’s requirements. After the merger of Swedish with Providence Health & Services, I was named to the Grants Management Team tasked with harmonizing a uniform grants management approach across both organizations.

Do you have a background in science?

My education includes a Master’s in Biology. Prior to pursuing work in grants management, I was enrolled in a Cellular and Molecular Biology doctoral program.  I have also worked in the private, biotechnology industry as an analytical chemist and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy specialist.

It seems like that scientific experience would give you something in common with the PIs that you assist. What are the main challenges of your position?

My challenge is to make sure that the PIs here are informed about funding opportunities. I also would like them to be aware of the fact that I am here as a resource for the application process.

What are some of the business systems and interfaces you utilize in your position?

Let’s start with eRA Commons (Electronic Research Administration); the grants management portal at the National Institutes of Health. The NIH defines it as an online interface where signing officials, principal investigators, trainees and post-docs at institutions/organizations can access and share administrative information relating to research grants.

Their website offers this description:

eRA provides critical IT infrastructure to manage over $30 billion in research and non-research grants awarded annually by NIH and other grantor agencies in support of the collective mission of improving human health.   eRA systems, including eRA Commons, ASSIST and IMPAC II modules, support the full grants life cycle and are used by applicants and grantees worldwide as well as federal staff at the NIH, AHRQ, the CDC, FDA, SAMHSA, and VA.

The UW has SAGE – the System to Administer Grants Electronically. It interfaces with Grants.gov and allows you to submit funding applications for consideration, route them electronically for approval, request advance budget numbers, and initiate sub awards.

Do you have any closing thoughts?

I just want everyone to know that I look forward to taking a hands-on approach and I may be more involved in the grant process than Investigators here may be used to or early career PIs may even know about. The important takeaway is that I am happy to help beyond sending out FOAs (Funding Opportunity Announcements). Thanks for making this platform available to me to share with the Center.

Contact info for: Courtney A Miller, MS, CRA, CPRA

Grant and Contract Manager


MAIL: Box 357330 | OFFICE: 206.616.3812 | CELL: 205.317.8400 | EMAIL: cmiller6@uw.edu