Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) -- Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) -- Investigator-Initiated Research Award

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

The SCIRP IIRA is intended to support studies that have the potential to make an important contribution to SCI research, patient care, and/or quality of life. Important aspects of this award mechanism include:

• Impact: Applications should articulate both the short- and long-term impact of the proposed research. Projects must address one or more of the FY20 SCIRP IIRA Focus Areas.

• Relevance to Military Health: Projects should be relevant to spinal cord-injured military Service members, Veterans, and/or their family members and care partners. Collaboration with military and VA researchers and clinicians is encouraged.

• Preliminary Data: Observations that drive a research idea may be derived from laboratory discovery, population-based studies, a clinician’s first-hand knowledge of patients, or anecdotal data. Applications must include preliminary and/or published data that are relevant to the mission of the SCIRP and support the proposed research project.

IIRA applications may focus on any phase of research from basic through translational. Permitted research includes preclinical studies in animal models, research with human subjects, or human anatomical substances, as well as ancillary studies associated with an existing clinical trial. Clinical trials are not allowed under this funding opportunity. Applications including animal studies must have a clear justification for the animal model chosen including relevance to human SCI.


  • Pre-Application Deadline:   May 21, 2020
  • Invitation to Submit an Application: June 2020
  • Application Submission Deadline:  August 25, 2020

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

To meet the intent of the award mechanism, applications must address at least one of the FY20 SCIRP IIRA Focus Areas listed below. Applications may address more than one Focus Area. In particular, applications combining biomarker studies with studies in one or more of the other FY20 SCIRP Focus Areas is encouraged. Applications using clinically relevant combinations of interventions within or across Focus Areas are also encouraged. The FY20 SCIRP IIRA Focus Areas are:

• Preserving and protecting spinal cord tissue at time of injury for improved neurologic outcomes: ○ Responsive projects may include surgical and acute care management of SCI. ○ Early therapeutics (devices and pharmacologic interventions) to stabilize SCI in the prehospital environment and during transport are encouraged. ○ Applications proposing neuroprotective interventions need to demonstrate a clinically feasible window for treatment and more than an incremental improvement over existing therapies.

• Identifying and validating biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and for evaluation of treatment efficacies: ○ Biomarkers must focus on diagnosis, prognosis, progression, and/or recovery of SCI. ○ Projects with a clear link between a biomarker and underlying physiology are encouraged. Projects can include imaging and other modalities. ○ Applications should demonstrate a clear path to clinical use. ○ Biomarker studies directed at identifying the best single or combination of treatments for individuals (personalized medicine) are encouraged. ○ Ancillary studies with existing clinical trials are allowed and encouraged.

• Bowel, genitourinary, cardiopulmonary dysfunction, and neuropathic pain: ○ Includes studies of the mechanisms of dysfunction specific to SCI, where the application demonstrates a clear path from increased understanding to advancing treatments. ○ Studies addressing the needs of and treatments for individuals with SCI across the full lifespan from acute to chronic injury are encouraged. ○ Studies relevant to this Focus Area using qualitative research approaches are allowed.

• Psychosocial issues relevant to people with SCI, their families, and/or their care partners: ○ Applications should directly address, or show clear relevance to, the needs of Service members and Veterans. ○ Studies of depression, resilience, or self-efficacy are especially encouraged. ○ Studies may address the causes of psychosocial issues, diagnosis, and/or interventions designed to promote adjustment, independent living, and social participation, and to improve quality of life. ○ Preclinical animal studies are not responsive to this Focus Area. ○ Studies relevant to this Focus Area using qualitative research approaches are allowed.

• Rehabilitation and regeneration—Maximizing the function of the residual neural circuitry, including harnessing neuroplasticity and recovery to improve function after SCI: ○ Studies that address critical questions of dosing, targeting, or safety required to move the research toward clinical use are supported. ○ Applications studying mechanisms of regeneration or identifying novel therapeutic targets must include a feasible projected pathway for translation and clinical implementation. ○ Basic research projects designed to understand general mechanisms underlying axonal sprouting, regeneration, or neuroplasticity are discouraged unless they directly address translatable approaches. ○ Studies relevant to this Focus Area using qualitative research approaches are allowed.

Eligibility Requirements

Independent investigators at all academic levels (or equivalent) may be named by the organization as the PI on the application. An eligible Principal Investigator (PI), regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or citizenship status, must be employed by, or affiliated with, an eligible organization.



Amount Description

The anticipated direct costs budgeted for the entire period of performance for an FY20 SCIRP Investigator-Initiated Research award will not exceed $500,000. Refer to Section II.D.5, Funding Restrictions, for detailed funding information. 

Funding Type



Junior Faculty
Medical Fellow/Resident
Post Doctoral Fellows


Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

May 21, 2020