Dr. Merritt joined CGCB/CTEP as a Program Director in January, 2006, where his major focus has been to manage the portfolio of clinical grants in the areas of stem cell transplant and immunotherapeutic and drug therapies for hematologic malignancies. In this position he has also been active in the management of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network and the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network, which is co-funded with the NHLBI, with a specific interest in promoting the latter's collaboration with the NCI-sponsored cooperative groups (NCTN). In conjunction with his position he has also has participated in the NIH inter-institute stem cell transplant committee as well as the NCI and NIH orientation programs for new extramural scientists. Prior to joining CTEP, since the Fall of 1998 Dr. Merritt served as a Scientific Review Administrator for the NCI, Division of Extramural Activities, with primary responsibilities for managing the review of clinical P01 applications; the final 4 years of his time at DEA he served as the SRA for Subcommittee D, the parent committee for final review of Clinical Studies P01s.
After completing his PhD degree in biological sciences at Purdue University in 1975, Dr. Merritt received post-doctoral training at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany, and subsequently at the Cell Biology Department at Yale University Medical School. He began an academic career in cancer research at the Midwest Children's Cancer Center and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in 1978. After moving to Washington DC in late 1981, he joined the faculty of the George Washington University Medical Center Biochemistry Department and subsequently the Children's National Medical Center and the Center for Cancer and Transplantation Biology, where he was an Associate Professor and Director of the Hematology/Oncology Department research laboratory. Dr. Merritt's research interests, as represented in 28 peer-reviewed publications, were focused during this period on immunosuppression elicited by gangliosides and in characterizing the expression of ganglioside antigens during T cell blastogenesis and in blasts of childhood acute leukemias, including translating this research to immunotherapeutic approaches to targeting these antigens with cytotoxic monoclonal antibodies.