WASHINGTON-Her scientific challenge is daunting: to understand better how the AIDS virus is transmitted among heterosexuals. But an even bigger problem facing Margaret Fischl was her prolonged absence from the task to prepare her application for renewed support from the National Cancer Institute.

An associate professor of internal medicine and director of the AIDS Clinical Research Program at the University of Miami Medical Center, Fischl knew the renewal process also would mean a new round of reviews and a prolonged battle over budgets. This year, however, she was greeted with a pleasant surprise as she traveled along the funding treadmill: the likelihood of 10 years of uninterrupted support.

Fischl is one of the first recipients of the MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health. The new extramural grants, called by an acronym for Method to Extend Research in Time, officially went into effect July 1, and by late...

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