Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

MERIT Award (R37) Extension: The Request, Review, and Award Process

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) (R37) Award provides extended grant support to Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). By providing such an opportunity for longer term support to ESIs, the NCI intends to offer flexibility and opportunity for creativity and innovation and additional time to successfully launch their careers and to become more established before having to submit renewal applications (NOT-CA-18-037). The objective of the NCI's ESI MERIT Award is to allow eligible investigators the opportunity to obtain up to 7 years of support in two segments:

  1. The initial approved duration of the award
  2. A 2-year extension

Request for Extension

Requests for a 2-year extension of the ESI MERIT Award must be submitted through to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services in response to PAR-21-138 by the due date indicated in the table below (due date also indicated in the grant Notice of Award).

The 2-year extension request must include the following:

  • Specific Aims page from the parent grant application (1 page maximum).
  • Research Strategy section (6 pages maximum) including a Progress Report, Research Plan for the 2-year extension period, updated specific aims/objectives for the extension period, and an explanation of how the plan falls within scope of the parent grant and represents a logical extension of the original aims.
  • Budget (modular or categorical as appropriate) that can be requested will be indicated on the penultimate year Notice of Award. Questions about the budget cap should be directed to the NCI Grants Management Specialist (GMS) assigned to the award.
  • Updated human subjects and/or vertebrate animals sections, if changes from the current project period are proposed. If there are no changes, then, include a statement to indicate that there are no changes to human subjects and/or vertebrate animals.
  • A separate list of the following items since the original date of the ESI MERIT Award: all grant-related publications (published and submitted); presentations at national and international meetings; and resource and data sharing, if applicable.
  • myNCBI award compliance report PDF documenting publication compliance with the NIH public access policy.
  • Other Support

The ESI MERIT Award extension cannot represent a change in scope and should be a logical extension of the funded application. PIs should contact their PO if they have questions regarding change of scope.

The time given for the administrative review of the extension request is short, so if an extension request is submitted late, it may miss the scheduled National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) review date and a lapse in funding could occur. The PI should notify the NCI PO as soon as possible if they are unable to meet the requested deadline.


The NCI PO will conduct an internal administrative review of the extension request and develop a recommendation for the NCAB meeting.

The staff of the NIH awarding component (NCI) will evaluate extension requests to determine overall merit by assessing if:
o    the research progress has been sufficient;
o    the extension request is within scope of the parent award;
o    the extension request continues to be in an area of scientific importance or promise to the NCI;
o    the research is timely and significant;
o    there is any funding overlap.


After the NCAB recommendation, the assigned NCI PO will send an email to the PI and AOR notifying them that the extension request was approved.

Notices of Award will be issued to officially award the first and second extension year, respectively.


POs will be the point of contact and should work with the PIs to address questions about the extension request process.

MERIT Request and Evaluation Deadlines Per NCAB Round
Submission Cycle (budget start date) Due Date of R37 Extension Request (of penultimate R37 year) NCAB Meeting Date (of penultimate R37 year)
Cycle 1 (December - March) July 1 September
Cycle 2 (April - June) November 1 February
Cycle 3 (July - September 30) March 1 June

Example: A grant project period cycles February 1 (R37 ends January 31, 2023). The ESI MERIT Award extension request is due July 1, 2021 and is reviewed by NCAB in September 2021.

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “MERIT Award (R37) Extension: The Request, Review, and Award Process was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”