CDMRP Introductory Overview video (text)

CDMRP Overview

Welcome to the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs introductory overview.

The CDMRP is located within the Department of Defense, or DOD. The U.S. Army and Army Futures Command, or AFC, on behalf of the DOD, administers biomedical research that supports basic, translational, and clinical research projects; research training; and research infrastructure.

Within AFC, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, or USAMRDC, oversees these programs and has a long history of sustaining and improving combat readiness of the Armed Forces, and improving military healthcare on the battlefield.

The CDMRP is the office within the USAMRDC that implements and manages funding for biomedical research programs directed by Congress in addition to providing support for additional DOD medical research program areas.

The CDMRP has been entrusted by Congress to manage and execute appropriated funds for Congressional Special Interest, or CSI, medical research, development, test, and evaluation efforts. CSI appropriations are added to the DOD budget by Congress, with specific targeted research areas as defined by Congressional language.

Defense Health Program and Services Core programs focus on meeting identified military needs and delivering products to the Warfighter.

CSI Programs must address congressional intent but many also align with and can complement DOD core research program areas.

Both CSI and core research program outcomes help to protect and sustain the health and safety of the force as well as provide health care solutions for the families of Service Members, Veterans, and the American public.

CSI and DOD programs managed and supported by the CDMRP focus on accelerating research to advance cures, improvements, and breakthroughs in military medicine, as well as on public health benefits.

Although research programs are directed by Congress, the CDMRP is responsible for determining the appropriate research funding strategy for each program and managing the review and selection process from researchers all over the world. To achieve this, a two-tier review is incorporated that includes research scientists, clinicians, and consumers.

While individual programs are unique in their focus, all CDMRP programs share the common goal of advancing research that will lead to healthcare solutions, such as disease prevention or cures, improvements in patient care and survival, and breakthrough technologies and resources for clinical benefit. Thus, these common program goals support the CDMRP vision…

…to transform healthcare through innovative and impactful research.

The CDMRP works to accomplish this vision by responsibly managing collaborative research that discovers, develops, and delivers healthcare solutions for Service Members, Veterans, and the American public.

The foundation of the CDMRP was established in 1992, when grassroots advocacy efforts heightened political awareness and increased interest in health issues.

After the initial Congressional appropriation of $210 million for a new Breast Cancer Research Program was designated to the USAMRDC, the Army sought the advice of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, or IOM, on how to most effectively manage review and investment strategies for these appropriations.

The IOM recommended using a two-tier review process that incorporates the strengths of traditional peer review systems, but also considers relevance to programmatic goals. Consumer advocates participate in both tiers of review, as well as in the development of investment strategies and focus areas.

As additional programs and topics were added by Congress, the CDMRP was established. This infrastructure and further development of a well-regarded management process has enabled the CDMRP to manage more than 30 new programs and also support core efforts within the DOD.

Hallmarks of all CDMRP research programs include the fact that all research funds are specifically targeted by Congress and added to the DOD budget on a yearly basis.

The CDMRP specifically targets research according to each program area and funds high-impact, high-risk, and high-gain projects that other agencies may not venture to fund.

It is also important to note that CDMRP programs fund the full pipeline of research development, from basic science through clinical trials, as appropriate to the state of the field of each program, and publicly announces all funding opportunities for fair and open competition.

The CDMRP follows the two-tier review application process that was recommended by the National Academy of Medicine, and there are no standing peer review panels.

Consumers — defined as individuals living with the disease, injury, or condition, or in some cases their caretakers — participate throughout the yearly program cycle.

Each program’s vision is adapted yearly, and award mechanisms are changed as needed to meet the current needs of the research community.

The CDMRP does not use a “pay line,” and applications that receive the highest scientific scores are not automatically funded. Applications are recommended for funding based on both their scientific merit and how well they address programmatic criteria.

CDMRP is dedicated to focusing on areas of highest potential impact and priority needs and being transparent to stakeholders on how research dollars are being spent.

Consumer involvement, a CDMRP hallmark from the very beginning, is the inclusion of patients, survivors, family members, and/or caregivers in the review process. Consumers are the “True North” and foundation of the CDMRP and serve as full voting members on nearly all CDMRP peer and programmatic review panels.

Consumers are invited to participate on review panels through their involvement in advocacy organizations, outreach/support organizations, or the Armed Forces, and based on their personal experience with the disease or condition.

Consumers add a unique perspective and a sense of urgency, ensuring that the human dimensions of the target disease, disorder, or injury are incorporated into program policy, investment strategy, and research focus.

This is a snapshot of the diverse range of program areas, with their associated funding, that is currently managed or supported by the CDMRP. Over the years, the CDMRP has continued to evolve as new programs and topic areas were added and a few were no longer included – all as directed by Congressional legislation, a majority in response to requests by consumers and disease survivors.

Most of the programs are focused on a specific disease, injury, or condition. Two programs have multiple topic areas, as specified by Congress.

Topic areas included in the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, or PRCRP, are annually identified by Congress and may vary year to year. The PRCRP focuses on funding research into exposures relevant to the military that may lead to the development of cancer, and/or addressing research and patient care capability gaps that may affect mission readiness.

Congressional language also stipulates that funds appropriated for the PRCRP may not be used to invest in research for other cancers that have dedicated funding programs at the CDMRP.

The Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, or PRMRP, supports research in congressionally specified topic areas that address a wide range of fields, including autoimmune diseases and immunology, cardiovascular health, infectious diseases, internal medicine, neurological and psychological health, orthopaedic and regenerative medicine, and respiratory health and injury.

PRMRP topic areas are also identified annually by Congress and vary year to year.

Since its inception in 1999, the program has supported over fifteen hundred research awards in more than 165 congressionally directed topic areas. The PRMRP is committed to funding basic, translational, and clinical research of high scientific merit and direct military relevance to benefit military Service Members, Veterans, their family members, and the general public.

Since its inception, the CDMRP has made numerous advancements in: prevention and risk strategies; detection, diagnosis, and prognosis; therapeutics and treatments; registries and repositories; patient resources and telehealth; prosthetics, orthotics, and restorative strategies; clinical practice and patient care; and feeding the pipeline for research resources, technologies, and knowledge products.

CDMRP….funding high-impact research to improve lives.

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Last updated Wednesday, October 26, 2022