Assistant Director, Merit Review

Washington DC
Competitive salary
October 18 2021
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type
All Industry

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

Under the direction of the Director, Merit Review, the Assistant Director (AD), Merit Review, is responsible for managing a team of Merit Review staff as they plan, coordinate, and execute all aspects of the comprehensive scientific and technical review of applications submitted for PCORI funding. The Assistant Director, Merit Review, is responsible for ensuring that Merit Review Officers (MROs) and merit review team staff adhere to PCORI policies and standard operating procedures for conducting a fair, scientifically rigorous, and consistent merit review of received applications.

The Assistant Director, Merit Review, is also responsible for assisting the Director to: ensure the MROs and the MR team staff are aware of and adhere to review timelines, complete review tasks and create deliverables on time; plan and implement high-quality, fair, and objective multi-stakeholder reviews; recruit and train patients, stakeholders, and other experts for review panels; disseminate merit review information to program staff; train staff on merit review policies and procedures; and help prepare pre- and post-review documents and materials for use by applicants, merit review panel members and Science/Engagement programs.

These duties require close collaboration with other PCORI business units and departments. The incumbent will handle complex tasks with substantial independent responsibility, balancing multiple projects with competing deadlines and priorities. Position requires the ability to  work actively with multiple internal stakeholders and address multiple viewpoints.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist Director in identifying and implementing strategic objectives and directions for the merit review program
  • Assist the Director to recruit, onboard and train new Merit Review staff
  • Supervise, train, and mentor assigned Merit Review staff, and consultants as needed. This includes ensuring adherence to PCORI standards and policies
  • In accord with the Director, oversee the effective management and operations of review panel meeting logistics for all activities (see above summary) conducted within a Review Portfolio Team, including the supervision of MROs, Program Associates, and contractors, as relevant. This includes ensuring adherence to PCORI standards and policies, ensuring appropriate identification and management of potential conflicts of interest for all scientific reviewers and staff.
  • As assigned by the Director, manage Panel Managers and Panel Support Personnel for review meetings
  • Oversee communication and relationships with the scientific, patient, and stakeholder communities to enhance review activities, collaborating with Engagement staff on patient and stakeholder recruitment, training, and quality review
  • Oversee MRO preparation of succinct, accurate, and informative final summary statements for all applications assigned for review
  • Oversee training program for merit reviewers and work with Programmatic and Training staff to update training as necessary
  • Establish and maintain strong working relationships with PCORI partners across other divisions and business units. Collaborate on special projects and initiatives as assigned by the Director
  • Represent MR on PCORI Working Groups or Matrix Teams for relevant responsibilities as assigned
  • Represent or delegate MR representation on PFA Working Groups for development of SAE and new PFA initiatives as requested by the Director
  • Ensure MR concerns, issues, and interests are represented on all PFA Working Groups and other meetings as assigned to you or to direct reports
  • As assigned by the Director, work with Program leadership and staff across Science and Engagement on procedures supporting funding programs including application solicitation and screening, reviewer and Chair selection and communication, and communication with applicants at the Program level to ensure appropriate and consistent implementation of merit review
  • Identify areas for process improvement, lead and actively participate in, and manage cross-cutting process improvement initiatives.
  • Contribute to relevant Policy and Procedures documents, in assistance to the Director
  • Ensure performance and process optimization and implement pilot studies to improve performance, in assistance to the Director.

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

  • Concrete and thorough understanding of PCORI’s mission, vision, activities, and merit review criteria
  • Effectively work independently and in teams to think imaginatively about opportunities; to create and respond to innovative approaches to addressing an issue; to inspire others to work towards achieving team goals while being tolerant of ambiguity and change;
  • Outstanding interpersonal and teamwork skills; collegial, energetic, able to develop productive relationships with colleagues, reviewers, consultants, and others who contribute to the merit review process
  • Sound judgment and maturity, exemplified by consistent professionalism in dealing with individuals at all levels, both internally and externally
  • Strong understanding of the history, interests, internal dynamics, and relationships of organizations in which health services, scientific and/or comparative effectiveness research is conducted
  • Knowledge and expertise regarding high quality, fair, and objective merit review processes
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Strong verbal, written, and presentation skills
  • Excellent project and people management skills

Required Experience

  • Doctorate or First Professional Degree (e.g., PhD, ScD, MD, DrPH) in relevant field
  • Minimum of seven (7) years of experience in research review and management, proven leadership and recognition in research program administration, scientific project management or for specific area of knowledge.
  • Demonstrated experience in effectively managing staff and leading teams in a collaborative environment
  • Proven project management experience and the ability to respond to complex questions and inquiries of a scientific or technical nature
  • Interacting with scientific, clinical and or lay reviewers and managing multi-stakeholder workgroups or panels
  • Previous experience with independent research, grant writing, scientific or peer review, and/or contract management is preferable

PCORI conducts background and credit checks on all applicants.

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

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