Senior Merit Review Officer - PCORI #2023-2805

Location US-DC-Washington
Job ID


Senior Merit Review Officer

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. We are seeking a Senior Merit Review Officer with technical knowledge in the biomedical and research review space, experience with scientific program administration, and exceptional communication skills to engage effectively with PCORI staff, scientists, patient representatives, and other stakeholder representatives.


You will report to and work closely with the Associate Director Merit Review to organize and manage large, complex panels for the comprehensive scientific and technical review of applications submitted for PCORI funding, serving as the lead subject matter expert and providing internal (i.e., PCORI Program and other staff) and external (i.e., reviewers) technical support throughout each funding cycle. You will assist the AD with daily activities relating to merit review, lead and mentor staff on our team, and perform the duties of a Merit Review Officer, ensuring that each application submitted to PCORI undergoes a rigorous and objective evaluation and that the most meritorious scientific research proposals are identified for potential funding.


Our Merit Review team reviews project applications for a $650 million funding budget through 3 funding cycles. You will manage a wide range of complex tasks with substantial independent responsibility, balancing multiple projects with competing deadlines and priorities. We will look to you to create and respond to innovative approaches to addressing an issue and inspire others to work towards achieving team goals.


How You’ll Make an Impact

  • Daily Operations. Assist the AD in establishing policies, procedures, guidelines, and training materials for applicants and reviewers. Develop metrics and reports for MR to assess business process effectiveness. Actively identify areas for process improvement, make recommendations, and lead cross-cutting improvement initiatives.
  • Team Leadership. Lead the onboarding of new staff and provide guidance and mentorship to existing team staff to support their professional growth and development. Serve as a positive professional role model for peers and junior staff. Work to establish and maintain a positive team environment.
  • Core Merit Review Functions. Coordinate the planning, implementation, and evaluation of high-quality, fair, and objective multi-stakeholder reviews; analyze applications for funding under PCORI’s National Priorities for Health and Research Agenda; assist with the recruitment and training of patients, stakeholders, and other experts for review panels, and help prepare pre- and post-review documents and materials for use by applicants, reviewers, and PCORI programmatic staff.


Work Environment and Benefits

  • You’ll enjoy a purpose-driven hybrid work environment with 2 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.



  • Manage PCORI’s merit review panels, as assigned, and independently carry out the entire life cycle of merit review functions in accordance with established PCORI merit review guidelines.
  • Examine and analyze applications for compliance and adherence to PCORI standards and policies.
  • Identify and manage conflicts of interest for all scientific reviewers.
  • Recruit, select, and train qualified reviewers to evaluate the merit of funding applications.
  • Foster effective communication and relationships with the scientific, patient, and stakeholder communities to enhance review activities.
  • Assign applications and contract proposals to reviewers for critique preparation and assignment of scores based on established criteria.
  • Ensure outcomes from deliberations at in-person Merit Review meetings are conducted in accordance with PCORI’s and best practices are properly documented.
  • Develop a variety of materials for use in internal and external meetings, presentations, guides, and/or publications.
  • Serve as an intermediary between applicants and reviewers, preparing succinct, accurate, and helpful final summary statements for all applications assigned for review.
  • Help facilitate the open flow of information between PCORI’s Science, Engagement, and Contract Management teams.
  • Establish policies, procedures, guidelines, and training materials for applicants and reviewers.
  • Undertake initiatives in assessing research development and best practices related to scientific review and potential lessons applicable to the enhancements of PCORI’s merit review system and processes.
  • Train and mentor staff for consistent and standardized deliverables and outcomes. Actively identify opportunities to share knowledge and skills.
  • Facilitate cross-departmental communication on merit review policies and procedures and the coordination of across a wide spectrum of programmatic and operational functions.
  • Ensure MR concerns, issues, and interests are represented at workgroups and other meetings.
  • Support MR surge activities as needed.



  • Doctorate or First Professional Degree (e.g., PhD, ScD, MD, DrPH) in a relevant field.
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience, proven leadership, and recognition in research program administration and scientific project management or for a specific area of knowledge.
  • Between 2-3 years of people management and demonstrated successful merit review management experience.
  • Proven ability to respond to complex questions and inquiries of a scientific or technical nature.
  • Demonstrated innovative, creative thinking and rigorous problem-solving capabilities.
  • Professional interaction with scientific, clinical and/or lay reviewers and successful management of multi-stakeholder workgroups or panels.
  • Previous experience with independent research, grant writing, scientific or peer review, and/or contract management is required.


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 – Sr Merit Review Officer #2023-2805 SA” as the subject of the email.


Job responsibilities are similar to the following positions: Scientific Review Officer, Peer Review Officer, Manager of Research and Grants, Scientific Review and Grants Administration.


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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