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Merit Review Officer

Washington D.C.
Competitive salary
Closing date
Dec 17, 2021

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Health Sciences, Public Health
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type
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Merit Review Officer


Tracking Code 987-858 Job Description

Department: Merit Review

Reports to: Director of Merit Review

Candidate must submit cover letter with application. 

About Us

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is authorized by Congress to conduct research to provide information about the best available evidence to help patients and their health care providers make more informed decisions. PCORI’s research is intended to give patients a better understanding of the prevention, treatment and care options available, and the science that supports those options.


Position Summary

The Merit Review Officer (MRO) will organize and manage the comprehensive scientific and technical review of applications submitted for PCORI funding. The MRO will be responsible for: coordinating the planning, implementation, and evaluation of high-quality, fair, and objective multi-stakeholder reviews; analyzing applications for funding under PCORI’s National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda; assisting with the recruitment and training of patients, stakeholders, and other experts for review panels; and helping prepare pre- and post-review documents and materials for use by applicants, reviewers and programs.

MROs are responsible for ensuring that each application submitted to PCORI undergoes a rigorous evaluation and that the most meritorious scientific research proposals are identified for potential funding. 

The incumbent will handle complex tasks with substantial independent responsibility, balancing multiple projects with competing deadlines and priorities. 

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Under guidance of the Assistant Director, Merit Review, examines applications for completeness and adherence to PCORI standards and policies.
  • Recruits, selects and trains qualified reviewers to evaluate the merit of funding applications.
  • Identifies and manages conflicts of interest for all merit reviewers.
  • Fosters effective communication and relationships with the scientific, patient, and stakeholder communities to enhance review activities.
  • Assigns applications and contract proposals to reviewers for critique preparation and assignment of scores based on established criteria.
  • Monitors all reviewer written critiques and provides feedback to ensure high-quality written critiques with actionable feedback for applicants.
  • Ensures outcomes from and deliberations at in-person Merit Review meetings are conducted in accordance with PCORI’s plans and are properly documented.
  • Develops a variety of materials for use in internal and external meetings, presentations, guides, and/or publications.
  • Writes accurate and succinct panel discussion notes appropriately capturing reviewer feedback to applicants, with input from Program.
  • Serves as intermediary between applicants and reviewers, preparing timely summary statements for all applications assigned for review.
  • Helps to establish policies, procedures, and guidelines for applicants and reviewers.
  • Helps facilitate the open flow of information between relevant PCORI teams.
  • Identifies areas for process improvement and actively participates in cross-cutting process improvement initiatives.


Incumbent(s) in this position may be required to perform other duties and special assignments not specifically stated above.


Statements outlined in this section are designated as essential job functions in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Required Skills

  • Exceptionally strong organizational and time management skills with superior attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication, inter-personal, leadership, problem solving, and analytical skills.
  • Experience with scientific/medical/technical writing and writing to a lay audience (2+ years preferred)
  • Sense of accountability and good judgment.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and adapt to changing priorities and requirements.
  • Dedication to fair, consistent, transparent and objective scientific review process.
  • Concrete and thorough understanding of PCORI’s mission, vision, activities, and review criteria.

Required Experience

  • Doctorate or Professional Degree (e.g., PhD, ScD, MD, DrPH) in relevant field (preferred) OR Master’s Degree with 7+ years of relevant experience.
  • Applicants with advanced academic or professional credentials, extensive years of relevant health research experience and experience working in a funding organization/agency may be considered for Senior Merit Review Officer roles. A combination of education and experience may be substituted for the education for both the Merit Review Officer and the Senior Merit Officer.
  • Professional experience (4 years preferred) in research administration or science program/project management.
  • Demonstrated ability to respond to complex questions and inquiries of a scientific or technical nature.
  • Previous experience with conducting independent research, grant writing, scientific or peer review, science or healthcare program management.

PCORI conducts background review on all applicants.

PCORI is an equal opportunity employer committed to cultural diversity in our workforce.

Candidate must submit cover letter with application. 

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