Released: February 4, 2020

Defense Health Program
Department of Defense Tick-Borne Disease Research Program
Anticipated Funding Opportunities for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20)

The FY20 Defense Appropriations Act provides funding to the Department of Defense Tick-Borne Disease Research Program (TBDRP) to support innovative, high-impact tick-borne disease research. As directed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the Defense Health Agency J9, Research and Development Directorate manages the Defense Health Program (DHP) Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) appropriation. The managing agent for the anticipated Program Announcements/Funding Opportunities is the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC).

The TBDRP is providing the information in this pre-announcement to allow investigators time to plan and develop ideas for submission to the anticipated FY20 funding opportunity. This pre-announcement should not be construed as an obligation by the Government. The FY20 TBDRP Program Announcements and General Application Instructions for the following award mechanisms will be posted on the website. Pre-application and application deadlines will be available when the Program Announcements are released. 

Applications submitted to the FY20 TBDRP must address one or more of the following Focus Areas:

  • Diagnosis:
    • Sensitive and specific direct detection diagnostic assay for Borrelia and/or other TBD pathogens. Assay should ultimately be amenable for implementation in a typical clinical setting, cost-effective, and rapid (diagnosis in < 24 hours).
    • Diagnostic biomarker panel for Lyme disease and other TBDs that distinguishes TBD infection from other febrile illnesses.
    • Approaches for Lyme disease or other TBD diagnosis capable of distinguishing active infection and previous exposure, and/or monitoring response to treatment.
    • Innovative and new approaches that provide diagnosis for a single or multiple TBD infections from a single sample.
  • Treatment:
    • Therapeutic strategies for treating acute and persistent TBDs. Novel therapeutics and/or non-antibiotic modalities for treating TBDs are encouraged.
    • In vitro interrogation of potential treatments designed to mitigate development of long-term sequelae following infection with bacterial, parasitic, or viral tick-borne (TB) agents.
    • Immunomodulatory approaches to treat the inflammatory response to infection.
  • Prevention:
    • Drugs, antibodies, or other novel approaches that can be administered and/or utilized prophylactically to prevent human TBD infection.
    • Safe and effective human vaccines for TBDs.
    • Identification, validation, and/or improvement of tick- or reservoir-targeted prevention and control interventions.
    • Understanding the ecology of understudied TBD vectors and reservoirs with emphasis on how it relates to human risk.
  • Pathogenesis:
    • Pathogenesis of persistent clinical manifestations associated with Lyme disease.
    • Immune evasion and/or tolerance of TB pathogens (Lyme and/or other TBDs).
    • Effects of tick sialome on human infection, immune response, disease progression, and pathogen dissemination.
    • TB infections and co-infections (simultaneous or sequential) and their effects on human disease severity, the local and systemic immune response, and/or pathogen synergy and competition.
    • Red meat allergy (allergic response to alpha-gal).
Award Mechanism Eligibility Key Mechanism Elements Funding
Career Development Award Principal Investigator (PI): Investigators within 10 years of completing terminal degree (excluding time in medical residency or on family medical leave) at the time of application submission, working to become independent investigators who exhibit a strong desire to pursue careers in tick-borne disease research; time spent as a postdoctoral fellow is not excluded.

Mentor: Independent investigators at or above the level of Associate Professor (or equivalent); must be an experienced tick-borne diseases researcher as demonstrated by a recent (last 5 years) history of funding and publications in tick-borne diseases research, specifically in the field (pathogen and associated methods) of the proposed studies.

The PI and Mentor may be at different organizations.

  • To fund early-career investigators to conduct impactful research under the mentorship of an experienced tick-borne disease researcher.
  • Career Development Plan is required for invited application submission. Plan should be prepared with appropriate guidance from the Mentor, should clearly articulate a strategy for acquiring the necessary skills, competence, and expertise to establish a career at the forefront of tick-borne disease research, and should outline how the PI will gain experience in tick-borne disease research. PI’s institution must demonstrate a commitment to the PI through a minimum of 75% protected research time for tick-borne disease research. The application must include clearly stated plans for interactions and communication coordination between the PI and Mentor.
  • Mentorship is required
  • Preliminary data is encouraged, but not required.
  • Clinical trials are not allowed; human studies/clinical research are permitted.
  • Preproposal is required; application submission is by invitation only.
  • Maximum funding of $300K for direct costs (plus indirect costs).
  • Maximum period of performance is 3 years.
Idea Development Award Independent investigators at or above the level of Assistant Professor (or equivalent).
  • To fund research that could lead to impactful discoveries or major advancements that will accelerate progress in improving outcomes for individuals affected by Lyme diseases and/or other tick-borne illnesses.
  • Research should be conceptually innovative, exhibit high levels of creativity, or challenge existing research paradigms.
  • Applications must describe the short- and long-term impact of the proposed research, as well as the public health burden of the diseases being addressed.
  • Preliminary data is encouraged, but not required.
  • Clinical trials are not allowed; human studies/clinical research are permitted.
  • Preproposal is required; application submission is by invitation only.
  • Maximum funding of $600K for direct costs (plus indirect costs).
  • Maximum period of performance is 3 years.

A pre-application is required and must be submitted through the electronic Biomedical Research Application Portal (eBRAP) at prior to the pre-application deadline. All applications must conform to the final Program Announcements and General Application Instructions that will be available for electronic downloading from the website. The application package containing the required forms for each award mechanism will also be found on A listing of all CDMRP and other USAMRDC extramural funding opportunities can be obtained on the website by performing a basic search using CFDA Number 12.420. 

Submission deadlines are not available until the Program Announcements are released. For email notification when Program Announcements are released, subscribe to program-specific news and updates under “Email Subscriptions” on the eBRAP homepage at For more information about the TBDRP or other CDMRP-administered programs, please visit the CDMRP website (

Point of Contact:

CDMRP Public Affairs

Last updated Thursday, May 26, 2022