Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs -- Tick-Borne Disease Research Program -- Career Development Award

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

The FY21 TBDRP CDA supports early-career investigators in their efforts to conduct impactful research with the mentorship of an experienced tick-borne diseases researcher (i.e., the mentor), thus providing an opportunity to obtain the funding, guidance, and experience necessary for productive, independent careers at the forefront of tick-borne diseases research. This award supports impactful research projects with an emphasis on discovery that may be translational in nature, but are not clinical trials. Under this award mechanism, the early-career investigator is considered the Principal Investigator (PI), and the application should focus on the PI’s research and career development. It should be clear that the proposed research is intellectually designed by the PI and not a product of the mentor. Preliminary data are not required; however, the research proposal should outline strong hypothesis-driven research supported by a robust scientific rationale. Through careful review of the literature, the PI and mentor should ensure that the proposed study is novel and non-duplicative in nature.


• Pre-Application Submission Deadline: May 26, 2021

• Invitation to Submit an Application: June 2021

• Application Submission Deadline: August 27, 2021

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Applications focused on TBDs and conditions prevalent in the United States (, of concern to military personnel and their beneficiaries in the U.S. and overseas, and/or involving understudied patient populations, are encouraged. A summary of TBDs and Focus Areas previously funded by the TBDRP is available on the CDMRP website (

Applications submitted to the FY21 TBDRP should be focused on Lyme disease and/or other tick-borne diseases/conditions with emphasis on reducing public health burden. It is recommended that applications respond to at least one of the following specific FY21 TBDRP Focus Areas, however applications may also propose research outside of these Focus Areas as long as strong justification and indication of overall impact on the burden of disease is provided.

Applicants are particularly encouraged to submit applications to topics listed under the Diagnosis and Treatment Focus Areas.

  • Diagnosis ○ Development of direct detection diagnostic assay for agents of Lyme and/or other tickborne diseases. ○ Diagnostic biomarker panel for Lyme disease and/or other TBDs that distinguishes tickborne infection from other febrile illnesses. ○ Approaches capable of distinguishing active infection and previous exposure, and/or monitoring response to treatment. ○ Innovative approaches that provide diagnosis for a single or multiple tick-borne infections.
  • Treatment ○ Novel therapeutic strategies for acute and persistent TBDs. ○ Potential treatments designed to mitigate development of long-term sequelae following infection with bacterial, parasitic, or viral TB agents. ○ Translational approaches that bridge basic biology to the development of potential treatments
  • Prevention ○ Drugs, antibodies, vaccines, or other novel approaches that can be administered and/or utilized prophylactically to prevent human TBD. ○ Identification, validation, and/or improvement of tick- or reservoir-targeted prevention and control interventions that are safe and non-toxic to non-target species. ○ 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, or pathogen synergy and competition. ○ Pathogenesis of mammalian meat allergy (allergic response to galactose-alpha-1,3- galactose [alpha-gal]). ○ Understanding the potential role of maternal-fetal transmission and the ability to prevent TBDs by this mode of transmission.

Eligibility Requirements

Principal Investigator ○ The PI must be an early-career researcher or physician scientist within 10 years of completion of his/her terminal degree at the time of application submission deadline (excluding time spent in residency or on family medical leave) and exhibit a strong desire to pursue a career in tick-borne diseases research. Time spent as a postdoctoral fellow is not excluded. ○ Institutional commitment to the PI’s independent career should be demonstrated, including a confirmation of the laboratory space.

Mentor ○ The Mentor must hold a position at or above the level of an Associate Professor (or equivalent). ○ The Mentor must be an experienced researcher as demonstrated by a proven record of funding and publications in tick-borne diseases research. The Mentor must demonstrate a commitment to developing the PI’s career in tick-borne diseases research. 



Amount Description

The anticipated direct costs budgeted for the entire period of performance for an FY21 TBDRP CDA award will not exceed $300,000. Refer to Section II.D.5, Funding Restrictions, for detailed funding information.

Funding Type



Junior Faculty


Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

May 26, 2021