NIH GUIDE, Volume 25, Number 4, February 16, 1996

P.T. 34


  Grants Administration/Policy+ 

National Cancer Institute

While the National Cancer Institute (NCI) continues to recognize
outstanding established investigators supported by individual
research project grant (R01) awards by nomination for a Method to
Extend Research in Time (MERIT) (R37) Award, a change in the NCI use
of MERIT awards is being implemented.  This change is due in part to
the uncertainty of future funding and to the rapidity with which
competition in research arises as fields expand in response to novel
discoveries.  Decreasing the NCI's use of these long-term grant
awards will allow more funding for competing grants. Therefore, the
criteria for NCI MERIT nominations and administrative extensions have
been made more stringent.  (The original purpose of the MERIT Award
is delineated in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 15, No.
13, August 1, 1986.)

For initial MERIT nominations:

1.  The candidate must be the principal investigator (PI) on an
unamended competing continuation (Type 2) R01 research grant
application that has a history of continuous NCI support for at least
seven years, and has been approved by the National Cancer Advisory
Board (NCAB) for five years of additional support with a priority
score within the 5th percentile.  This grant should represent the
PI's principal area of research, and be in an area of special
importance or promise.

2.  The candidate PI must be an established scientist, at the leading
edge in the proposed research area as indicated by a continuous
record of publications in the highest quality journals for that
respective field.

MERIT extensions also must now meet higher standards, as being
applied to initial MERIT nominations:

1.  A proposed MERIT extension must be a logical continuation of the
current award, not initiating new, unrelated lines of research and/or
significantly increasing the level of effort of the PI or other
personnel.  MERIT extension applicants proposing such changes will be
advised to submit a regular Type 2 R01 competing application.

2.  Progress made by the awardee during the current award period must
demonstrate continued leadership in the field.  The research proposed
for the extension period must continue to be at the cutting edge of
the discipline, in an area of continued importance to the NCI mission
and goals.

MERIT extensions may be approved administratively for a period of one
to five years, based on the degree to which the awardee and the
research demonstrate continuing scientific promise, originality, and
productivity.  With these more stringent criteria for MERIT awards,
some applicants for MERIT award extension may be advised that an
administrative extension will be limited in time or not granted, thus
requiring earlier submission of a regular competing (Type 2)
continuation application that will receive full peer review. These
changes in criteria are necessitated by projected budget limitations
and are intended to provide increased opportunity for new competing
research grants.  Individual MERIT awardees will be contacted
individually by NCI staff, and no disruption of research activities
is anticipated.


For additional information and questions, contact the NCI Program
Director listed on the Notice of Award or:

Marvin R. Kalt, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Extramural Activities
6116 Executive Blvd, Suite 8001 - MS 8327
Bethesda, MD  20892-8327
Telephone:  (301) 496-5147
FAX:  (301) 402-0956

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