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ASU Professor Kelly Cue Davis receives prestigious MERIT Award

Amanda Goodman

Joining rare company, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Associate Professor Kelly Cue Davis has received a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award.

Davis is one of just three Arizona State University researchers to earn this prestigious award since 1985. 

The award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is for her research grant “Men’s Sexual Risk Behaviors: Alcohol, Sexual Aggression, and Emotional Factors.” 

“I am honored and delighted to have been selected by NIH to receive a MERIT award in support of my research program,” Davis said. “My aim is to advance our understanding of the role of alcohol in sexual risk behaviors by investigating the mechanisms underlying alcohol-involved sexual risk in both consensual and nonconsensual sexual situations. The receipt of this award will enable me to extend this line of research, which I hope will ultimately benefit young men and women’s sexual health and well-being.” 

The MERIT award provides investigators more time to focus on their research by eliminating the associated burdens with competitive grant applications. The competition for NIH-funded R01 equivalent research projects remains high with an ever-increasing number of applications received by NIH each year. 

Researchers cannot apply for a MERIT award. Instead, they are identified during the regular review process of competitive research grant applications.  

David Coon, Edson College associate dean of research, says the aim of the award is to support investigators whose research skills and productivity are "distinctly superior" and who are highly likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner.

“Dr. Davis’s body of work speaks for itself. She is a phenomenal investigator and we could not be more thrilled that her research is being recognized and supported at such a high level. It’s a fantastic achievement,” Coon said.

According to the NIAAA, in fiscal year 2018, less than 6% of NIAA-funded investigators were selected to receive MERIT Awards, highlighting the rareness of this opportunity.