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

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

The FY20 TBDRP Career Development Award supports independent, 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 tickborne 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 nonduplicative in nature.


• Pre-Application Submission Deadline: May 27, 2020

• Invitation to Submit an Application: July 2020

• Application Submission Deadline: August 27, 2020

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Applications submitted to the FY20 TBDRP must address at least one of the following specific Focus Areas in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases with emphasis on reducing public health burden.

  • Diagnosis ○ Sensitive and specific direct detection diagnostic assay for Borrelia and/or other tickborne pathogens. Assay should ideally 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 tickborne 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 approaches that provide diagnosis for a single or multiple tick-borne 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 longterm sequelae following infection with bacterial, parasitic, or viral 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. ○ Safe and effective human vaccines for TBDs. ○ Understanding the potential role of maternal-fetal transmission and the ability to prevent TBDs by this mode of transmission. ○ 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)).

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 FY20 TBDRP Career Development 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 27, 2020