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 the short- and long-term impact of the proposed research on both the SCI research field as well as the SCI community. Projects must address one or more of the FY23 SCIRP 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, though studies focused exclusively on target identification are discouraged. Permitted research includes preclinical studies in animal models (except where otherwise specified), research with human subjects or human anatomical substances, as well as ancillary studies associated with an existing clinical trial.


  • Pre-Application Deadline:   May 24, 2023
  • Invitation to Submit an Application: July 2023
  • Application Submission Deadline:  Sep. 7, 2023

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Applications to the FY23 SCIRP Investigator-Initiated Research Award (IIRA) must address at least one of the 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 Focus Areas are encouraged. Applications using clinically relevant combinations of interventions within or across Focus Areas are also encouraged. The FY23 SCIRP 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. ○ 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 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.

• Developing, testing, and validating promising interventions to address bowel, genitourinary, neuropathic pain, cardiopulmonary, or autonomic dysfunction in people with SCI ○ Mechanism-focused studies must be specific to SCI and demonstrate 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.

• Investigating 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. ○ To be responsive to this Focus Area, psychosocial issues must be the primary focus of the research. ○ Projects should provide an understanding of critical factors promoting psychosocial wellbeing leading to implementation of potential treatments and interventions. ○ Studies addressing social isolation, loneliness, and depression, as well as resilience, selfefficacy, sexuality and intimacy, and interactions between people living with SCI and their care partners, are especially encouraged. ○ Preclinical animal studies are not responsive to this Focus Area.

• 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

Eligibility Requirements

Independent investigators at all career levels may be named by the organization as the PI or Initiating PI on the application.

Early-Career Partnering Principal Investigator: The Partnering PI must be an investigator with at least 3 years of research experience (independent or non-independent) beyond a terminal degree but no more than 7 years within their first faculty appointment, or equivalent independent research position (excluding time spent on family medical leave). Lapses in research time or appointments as denoted in the biographical sketch should be explained in the application.

Amount Description

The anticipated direct costs budgeted for the entire period of performance for an FY23 SCIRP IIRA should not exceed $500,000 or $600,000 for the Early-Career Partnering PI Option. 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 24, 2023