DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
CDMRP funding cycle

To ensure both scientific excellence and programmatic relevance, the CDMRP administers a two-tier review process consisting of peer and programmatic review. This process was recommended by the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine to enable a focus on targeted program goals while also capturing the traditional strengths of existing peer review systems.

CDMRP specifically tailors detailed peer and programmatic review criteria for each award mechanism, and those criteria are clearly outlined in the published funding opportunity announcements. Reviewers at both tiers follow the published criteria to direct their reviews. An application must be favorably reviewed by both levels of the two-tier review system to be funded, and this partnership is a key element of the CDMRP review process.


Peer Review Programmatic Review
Peer and programmatic review panels are composed of scientists, clinicians, consumers from advocacy communities, members of the military and other specialists as applicable to the award mechanism and program area. Consumers serve as full voting members and play a major role in maintaining the focus of the respective program on research that is relevant and has the potential to make a significant impact on the community affected.

For some funding opportunities, an additional programmatic pre-application screening process is used prior to application submission to focus resources, including those of the applicant, the reviewers, and the program, on proposed projects that best meet the intent of the award mechanism. Investigators of favorably reviewed pre-applications are then invited to submit full applications.


The following review process is used to evaluate each full application submitted to the CDMRP:

CDMRP Funding and Review Process

Text Version

Tier 1: Peer Review (GDIT)
Peer review, the first tier of review, is a criterion-based process in which applications are evaluated on their individual scientific and technical merits in a given discipline or combination of disciplines.

  • Each application is assessed by discipline-specific panels for scientific merit and potential impact based on review criteria set forth in the funding opportunity announcement.
  • All peer review panel members must adhere to the Conflict of Interest (COI) policy criteria for CDMRP peer reviewers..
  • Applications are typically assigned to two or more scientist reviewers and a consumer reviewer, each of whom provides a written evaluation and preliminary scores based on the review criteria. Additional specialist reviewers may be assigned as appropriate for specific award mechanisms (e.g. bioethicists for clinical trial applications).
  • Although some reviewers may participate in similar panels from year to year, standing panels are not used by the CDMRP. Instead, the CDMRP tailors the review panels to fit the specific expertise required by the research program, award mechanism, and applications received. While applicants are asked to indicate primary and secondary research classification codes upon submission, which may be used when referring applications to certain peer review panels and recruiting peer reviewers, applicants may neither request assignment to a particular panel nor suggest scientific reviewers.
  • Applicants do not know the composition or membership of the peer review panel to which their applications are assigned. At the end of each year's peer review cycle the names of the peer reviewers (including ad hoc and specialty reviewers) are released by research program; however, panel assignment is not provided.
  • The output of the peer review process is the summary statement, a robust and comprehensive written evaluation of strengths and weaknesses that serves as the basis for the second tier of review and provides valuable feedback to the applicant.

Tier 2: Programmatic Review (Leidos, Inc.)
Programmatic review, the second tier of review, is a comparison-based process in which applications of high scientific and technical merit from the entire array of disciplines and specialty areas compete in a common pool.

  • This level of review is conducted by members of a Programmatic Panel who are selected for their renowned expertise in specific research, policy, or specialty areas that are relevant to the program. Names and affiliations of Programmatic Panel members for each program are posted publicly each year prior to funding opportunity announcement release.
  • All Programmatic Panel members must adhere to the COI policy criteria for CDMRP programmatic reviewers.
  • Programmatic reviewers do not automatically recommend funding applications that were highly rated in the technical merit review process; rather, they carefully scrutinize applications to allocate the funds available to support the award mechanism(s) as wisely as possible. Applications that have the highest potential to help achieve the vision and goals of the respective program (programmatic relevance, relative innovation and impact respective to the award mechanism, portfolio balance, adherence to the intent of the mechanism) are recommended for funding.
  • Although the ratings and evaluations of the peer reviewers are a key factor, the additional consideration of programmatic intent and portfolio balances means that applications are not funded using an established "pay line."
  • The list of applications recommended for funding is reviewed and approved by the Commanding General, USAMRMC and the Director of the Defense Health Agency J9, Research & Development Directorate.
  • Approved funding recommendation lists and information papers describing specific details of the review process for each program cycle are posted to the CDMRP website as soon as the applicants have been notified.

To maintain the integrity of its review process, the CDMRP utilizes an Inquiry Review Panel (IRP) to address questions and concerns by applicants regarding either the peer review or programmatic review of their applications. The IRP reviews each inquiry in detail, determines whether factual or procedural errors occurred, and may recommend that an application be re-reviewed by either a peer review or programmatic review panel. The number of applications for which inquiries are received each year is only a very small fraction (average of less than 0.5% per year) of the applications reviewed.

The CDMRP strives for transparency in its review and management processes, providing a wide array of information including programmatic panel members, peer review panelists, searchable data on funded applications with abstracts and funding amounts, and research accomplishments to the public on the CDMRP Website (https://cdmrp.army.mil) and in each year's Annual Report.

Last updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018