2018 ASE MERG Research Award


The Association for Surgical Education (ASE) recognizes the importance of advancing education research in the surgical fields.  Historically, surgical education research has been frustrated with poor conceptual frameworks, methodological errors, and low sample sizes causing inadequate statistical power.  These deficiencies result in low publication rates and limited generalizability.

The ASE MERG Research Grant is intended to fund a multi-institutional research project (≥3 geographically distinct sites) that will advance scientific knowledge and aim to improve undergraduate, graduate, or continuing surgical education. This award is for ASE members to conduct new research studies (i.e. the grant cannot be used to fund studies that are currently on-going) of up to two years’ duration that focus on a surgical education problem highlighted in the recent needs assessment conducted by the ASE MERG committee (see Stefanidis et al., 2015; full citation below).  These issues include, but are not limited to the assessment of resident competence and/or autonomy, faculty development, milestone integration, intraoperative instruction, and remediation.

The ASE MERG Research Grant award is for $10,000 USD that must be used for direct research costs.  In addition to the financial award, grant awardees will also be given complimentary assistance from Drs. Roy Phitayakorn and Emil Petrusa at the Massachusetts General Hospital Office of Surgery Education Research for IRB coordination, statistical analysis, study coordination, research methodology issues, and site recruitment.


Click here to apply.

All brief initial applications are due on January 5, 2018 and must be formatted in Arial or Times New Roman font of at least 11 font size, single-spaced, and at least half-inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right) for all pages.

Initial applications will be reviewed by members of the ASE MERG committee, and three applicants will be invited to submit full research proposals that will be due March 20, 2018.  The recipient of the 2018 ASE MERG research award will be announced at the ASE business meeting during Surgical Education week.

All INITIAL applications must include the following components:

  1. Research plan (2 pages maximum)
    1. Background and Aims
    2. Research strategy with summary of proposed analytic strategy
    3. Up to 24 month timetable (Projected start date is July 1, 2018)
    4. References (ICMJE formatting, no limit)
  2. Budget (1 pages)
    1. Grant monies can be used for salary support of research assistants or other study staff.
    2. Please note that the budget cannot be used for indirect costs, administrative or travel costs, publication costs, or salary support for the Principle Investigator, Co-PIs, or collaborators.
  3. NIH-formatted biographical sketch
    1. Please attach NIH-formatted biographical sketches for the Principle Investigator (PI) and any co-Principle Investigators.
  4. Letters of Support
    1. All research sites should have one designated champion with a corresponding letter of support from the champion’s institution.
    2. Please also provide one letter of support from any applicable groups that will be studied in this project (i.e. medical student clerkship or residency program director).
  5. Appendices (no limit)
    1. Please use this section to attach any research or survey instruments that will be used in the proposed study.


Applicants must be an MD, DO, or PhD with a full-time clinical or research position in a academic medical institution where the research will be conducted.  Applicants must also be an active ASE member in good-standing or have a Co-PI who is an active member of the ASE.  If the applicant is currently in residency training, they must obtain a sponsor letter from an Active ASE member at their primary research institution.

Please contact membership@surgicaleducation.com to confirm your member status.


Progress reports (technical and financial) are due to the MERG committee at quarterly intervals and final reports (technical and financial) are due one month after completion of the project. The MERG committee will pass along all summary details of the research projects to the ASE Executive Board at its regular meetings.  Details on reporting requirements and templates will be sent to the PI once awarded.


No-cost extensions:  Six month to one-year no-cost extensions may be given for unexpected situations.  Written requests for extensions must be received ninety (90) days before the expiration of the original grant period and are subject to approval by the Chair of the MERG committee and the ASE Executive Board.

Additional Funding: The Principal Investigator is encouraged to apply for additional funding from other sources besides this ASE Grant.

Transferring Institutions: This grant is NOT transferable to another individual within the Institution and NOT transferable to another institution OR to operating funds. If the Principal Investigator leaves their Institution, all unused funds MUST be returned.

Presentation of Research: All projects funded with this ASE Grant must be submitted for presentation at the ASE Annual Meeting. If accepted, a submission to publish in AJS is required. If not, proof of submission to another journal is required.

Please note: All grant recipients must acknowledge funding from the Multi-institutional Research Group of the Association for Surgical Education in any presentations or publications resulting from the funded project.

Budget Changes: A certain degree of latitude may be given to revise the original budget to meet any unexpected needs.  All budget revisions must be submitted in writing to the Chair of the MERG committee and are subject to approval by the MERG committee.


Grants must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on or before January 5, 2018. No late submissions will be accepted. Corrections of oversights/errors discovered after the deadline will not be allowed.

Click here to apply.

Please contact ASE Administrative Coordinator, Catherine Sutherland, at catherine@surgicaleducation.com with any questions or concerns about this grant or the grant review process.



Applicants may submit more than one grant application as principle investigators if they are substantially different projects.  Only one research project may be funded.



  1. Stefanidis D, Cochran A, Sevdalis N, Mellinger J, Phitayakorn R, Sullivan M, Barney L; Multi-Institutional Educational Research Group of the Association for Surgical Education.  Research priorities for multi-institutional collaborative research in surgical education.  Am J Surg. 2015 Jan;209(1):52-8. PMID:  25454954 à Needs assessment of current surgical education research problems that could be addressed through multi-institutional research.
  2. http://sbsirb.uchicago.edu/page/multi-institutional-research à Great overview of IRB issues when conducting multi-institutional research
  3. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/challenges-associated-with-multiinstitutional-multisite-clinical-trial-collaborations-lessons-from-a-diabetes-selfmanagement-interventions-study-in-primary-care-2167-0870-1000219.php?aid=55032 à Nice overview of challenges associated with multi-institutional research and needed structure/frameworks to ensure success
  4. http://ebics-dev.mit.edu/content/module-3-ethical-issues-conduct-multi-institutional-collaborative-interdisciplinary-research à Written for basic scientists, but has some lessons on ethical issues associated with multi-institutional research that can be applied to surgical education research




Step 1:  Read the literature

-Find papers that resonate with your research interests and create a series of research questions you would like to answer.  Try to contact the senior authors of these papers to see if they would be interested in collaborating.

Step 2:  Go to an ASE meeting

-Look at the program and find fellow researchers who may be interested in working on new research projects together.

-Consider applying to the ASE Surgical Education Research Fellowship program if you think your project would benefit from having a senior research mentor work with you.

Step 3:  Look around your institution

-Sometimes there are individuals in your institution who are working on similar research projects, but are outside of the medical school.  Consider looking at your local business, computer science, engineering, sociology, psychology, or education programs.


Ideally, you should try to find research partners who complement your skill set and enrich the overall quality of the project.  Think about possible partners outside of the department of surgery to maximize the generalizability of your research findings.