Merit Program, Department of Veterans Affairs

The VA medical research programs support and enhance the patient care mission of VA health care facilities by funding research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences: (1) to acquire new knowledge leading to improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disabilities; (2) to contribute to a professionally attractive and stimulating intellectual environment favoring the recruitment, retention and professional growth of high quality patient care staff; (3) to develop research careers to provide a nucleus of clinicians who are capable of conducting meaningful and productive biomedical and behavioral research across the entire spectrum from basic sciences to clinical application of new knowledge; and, (4) to encourage directed cooperative research programs by using the unique capabilities of the nationwide VA system of Medical Centers to study appropriate health problems.

The Medical Research Service administers the biomedical and behavioral sciences research programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It seeks to fund only the most meritorious research and in support of this mission the Medical Research Service relies upon numerous scientific advisory committees for guidance and critiques. The primary role of these committees is to determine the scientific merit of research proposals. The committees consist of investigators with expertise in specific disciplines or other specialty fields for which that group has review responsibilities. The willingness of these investigators to participate in this important endeavor represents an invaluable contribution to the reliability and acceptability of the scientific peer review process.

Merit Review Boards provide the VA Medical Research Service and VA Medical Centers with an evaluation of the scientific quality of invesitgator-initiated research programs. Each board provides a critique of the quality of the proposed research and indicates a recommended level of total budgetary support and duration of support. Proposals for merit review are not considered as individual "grant applications," but rather as an integral part of the overall research program of the Medical Center and the VA Medical Research Service. Each research proposal requires two levels of scienctific review. A research proposal (project or program) must first be evaluated and approved by the Research and Developmental Committee of the VA Medical Center and endorsed by the facility Director for submission to the Medical Research Service. After the proposal is submitted to Medical Research Service it is assigned to one of the 14 Merit Review Boards for evaluation of it scientific merit. An investigator's proposal is reviewed in the context of all of their VA and non-VA suppoted research.

The Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit is funded in part by the following VA Merit Grants: Functional Anatomy of Human Cognition, Principal Investigator: J.V. Pardo

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