Associate Director, Merit Review - Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) #2023-2792

Location US-DC-Washington
Job ID


Associate Director, Merit Review


The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is the leading funder of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research in the US. We are federally funded through 2030, have invested $4 billion in patient-centered CER and related projects to date, and are experiencing rapid growth. The Merit Review department has rocketed from a team of six to 23, and we are seeking an Associate Director with technical knowledge in the biomedical and research review space, team management skills, and experience with process improvements to strengthen our MR leadership team.


In this role, you will plan, coordinate, and execute the end-to-end scientific and technical review of applications submitted for PCORI funding. Reporting to the Director, Merit Review, you will lead 4-5 highly qualified direct reports, manage relationships with 1-2 contractors, and work closely with other PCORI business units and departments. Our Merit Review Team reviews project applications for a $650 million funding budget through 3-4 funding cycles.


You will ensure 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. You will also assist 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.


Your ability to handle complex tasks with substantial independent responsibility and balance multiple projects with competing deadlines and priorities will be central to your success.


How You’ll Make an Impact

Merit Review integrates with every department at PCORI—it is the engine that drives the funding process, ensuring that PCORI-funded research and related projects are rigorous and useful for patients, their families, and the healthcare community. Key focus areas include:

  • Team Management. Inspire others to work towards achieving team goals while being tolerant of ambiguity and change. Develop productive relationships with colleagues, reviewers, consultants, and others who contribute to the merit review process.
  • Process Improvement and Innovation. Work independently and in teams to think imaginatively about opportunities and create and respond to innovative approaches to addressing an issue. Evaluate the effectiveness of the merit review process and lead, actively participate in, and manage cross-cutting process improvement initiatives to adapt to programmatic needs while maintaining the integrity of the process.


Work Environment and Benefits

  • You’ll enjoy a purpose-driven hybrid work environment with 3 days on-site in our Washington, DC, office and the option to telework the rest of the week. We have weekly team days and design our in-office time to be engaging and collaborative. You will have flexibility in start and end times to accommodate your needs.
  • We offer an excellent compensation package, including generous PTO (up to 20-30 days of PTO based on job classification and/or years of service), medical, dental, and vision insurance, long-term and short-term disability, 401(a) plan with employer contribution up to 10%, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, employee engagement events, and more.
  • You are joining a team of mission-driven professionals with a high level of experience in the field who are genuinely interested in helping each other succeed. This role is intellectually stimulating; you’ll be learning and addressing new challenges every day.
  • As a research funder, convener, and employer, PCORI is dedicated to advancing and accelerating diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our work. Internally, we know diversity and inclusion are about the experience and culture an organization builds for itself. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts stretch across our entire organization, from recruiting our workforce to cultivating business relationships.



  • Working with the Director, oversee operations and review panel logistics for all activities 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 and 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 Manager Support Personnel for review meetings.
  • Oversee effective management of in-person Merit Review in accordance with PCORI’s merit review goals.
  • Oversee MRO preparation of succinct, accurate, and informative final summary statements for all applications assigned for review.
  • Oversee the training program for merit reviewers and work with Programmatic and Training staff to update training as necessary.
  • Assist the Director in recruiting, onboarding, and training MR staff.
  • 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.
  • Ensure MR concerns, issues, and interests are represented on all PFA Working Groups and other meetings as assigned to you or to direct reports.
  • Represent or delegate MR representation on PFA Working Groups for the development of SAE and new PFA initiatives as requested by the Director.
  • Assist the Director in performance and process optimization and implement pilot studies to improve performance.
  • Assist the Director in contributing to relevant Policy and Practice documents.
  • Assist the Director in identifying and implementing strategic objectives and directions for the merit review program.
  • 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.



  • Doctorate or First Professional Degree (e.g., PhD., ScD, MD, DrPH) in a relevant field.
  • Minimum of 7 years of experience in research review and management, proven leadership and recognition in research program administration, and scientific project management or for a specific area of knowledge.
  • Demonstrated experience in effectively managing staff and leading teams in a collaborative environment.
  • Experience interacting with scientific, clinical and/or lay reviewers and managing multi-stakeholder workgroups or panels. Knowledge and expertise regarding high-quality, fair, and objective merit review processes.
  • Strong understanding of the history, interests, internal dynamics, and relationships of organizations in which health services, scientific and/or comparative effectiveness research is conducted.
  • Previous experience with independent research, grant writing, scientific or peer review, and/or contract management is preferred.


About Us

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 and reauthorized in 2019. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. PCORI seeks input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.


To Apply

We encourage you to apply even if your experience is not a 100% match with the position description; we will consider people from a variety of backgrounds and career experiences.


Use the "Apply" button on this page or simply email your resume to Aileen Hedden at with “PCORI – Associate Director, Merit Review #2023-2792 SA” as the subject of the email.


Job responsibilities are similar to the following positions: Scientific Review Officer, Program Officer, Scientific Program Officer, Peer Review Officer.


Staffing Advisors is committed to reducing bias in every aspect of the hiring process. We have long recommended an evidence-based approach to hiring. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.







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