Strategies to Leverage Research Funding: Guiding DOD's Peer Reviewed Medical Research Programs


Since 1992, the Department of Defense (DOD), through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), has received congressionally earmarked appropriations for programs of biomedical research on prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer, neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, and other health problems. Appropriations for these Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) are used to support peer reviewed extramural research project, training, and infrastructure grants.

Congress has become concerned about funding increases for these programs given current demands on the military budget. At the request of Congress, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) examined possibilities of augmenting program funding from alternative sources. The resulting IOM report, Strategies to Leverage Research Funding: Guiding DOD's Peer Reviewed Medical Research Programs, focuses on nonfederal and private sector contributions that could extend the appropriated funds without biasing the peer review project selection process.

In the report, the committee determined that the prospects for augmenting CDMRP funding from nonfederal sources are modest, especially given CDMRP's emphasis on innovative exploratory research. The committee noted that voluntary collaborations with nonfederal funders can nevertheless be very beneficial. These collaborative efforts can leverage research results in ways that cannot be achieved by funders acting separately, for example, by creating synergy, critical mass, or economies of scale, or by combining the complementary strengths of the partnering organizations.

The report concluded with recommendations for CDMRP to facilitate public-private collaborations in funding research by providing CDMRP with the authority and appropriate guidelines for engaging in jointly funded projects and programs while continuing peer review to assure program quality.