New Release: Research Funding Opportunity from the 2019 PRMRP

Published on Tue, 01/22/2019

Funding Opportunity

Myotonic dystrophy was added to the list of diseases eligible for Department of Defense medical research funding in FY 2018 after a 2-year, concerted advocacy effort from MDF. MDF worked with congressional leadership to gain listing for FY2019 as well, and was successful. The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program/Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program provides a funding opportunity for research across a range of diseases and conditions. Congress appropriated $350 million for the FY2019 PRMRP to solicit proposals in 49 topic areas. Eligible applicant organizations include U.S. and international universities, biotechnology companies, foundations, government organizations, and research institutes.

Starting in FY2018, myotonic dystrophy was included for the first time as eligible for PRMRP funding. The PRMRP has thus far announced their intent to make a $377,600 Discovery Grant Award from the FY2018 competition; information for potential DM awards in the other grant mechanisms has not yet been announced.

Renewal of the PRMRP for 2019, with inclusion of eligibility for myotonic dystrophy researchers, represents an important opportunity. Full descriptions of grant mechanisms and the application process can be found on the PRMRP website. MDF has excerpted some key information on the PRMRP here—potential applicants should, however, read the full announcements from the PRMRP.

The application process requires submission of a pre-application through the Electronic Biomedical Research Application Portal (eBRAP) prior to being given permission to submit a full submission (see details of awards below). Full applications are submitted through (the grant submission site for all U.S. agencies, including the NIH). Applicants must be registered with eBRAP in advance of submission, while registration is required for applicant organizations and individuals must have an eRA Commons ID.

Funding Mechanisms

Eligibility, specific instructions for pre-applications and applications, and funding level are dependent upon the grant mechanism. For FY2019, the PRMRP is using the following grant mechanisms:

  • Discovery Award

    • Eligibility: postdoctoral or clinical fellow or above
    • Supports innovative, high risk/high reward hypothesis-driven research, excluding established lines of research; intended outcome is generation of preliminary data for future research projects; innovation is identified as the “most important review criterion,” while availability of substantial preliminary data is viewed as inappropriate for this mechanism
    • Support level: $200,000 maximum direct costs per award over 18 months; 60 total awards anticipated in FY2019
    • MDF comment: similar to an NIH R21, but with postdocs eligible
    • Pre-Applications are due March 28, 2019; Applications due April 11, 2019
  • Investigator-Initiated Research Award

    • Eligibility: Assistant Professor or above
    • Supports original line of research, from basic lab research through translational and human subjects research (clinical trials not eligible), expectation that work is likely to have an important impact; option for inclusion of a partnering PI
    • Support level: $1.2 million ($1.5 million with partnering PI option) maximum direct costs per award, over 3 years maximum; 42 total awards anticipated in FY 2019
    • MDF comment: similar to an NIH R01
    • Preapplications are due March 14, 2019; applications due July 11, 2019
  • Focused Program Award

    • Eligibility: Full Professor or above
    • Supports synergistic and multidisciplinary research including at least four distinct projects focused on an overarching challenge that is a critical problem or question in the field; should be “a clear intent to progress toward translational/clinical work over the course of the effort”
    • Support level: $7.2 million maximum total direct costs per award over 4 years; 4 total awards anticipated in FY2019
    • MDF comment: similar to an NIH Program Project (P01) or Center Grant (P50), requiring laser-like focus and tightly synergistic, individual projects each led by strong researchers in order to be competitive
    • Preapplications are due March 14, 2019; applications due July 2, 2019
  • Technology/Therapeutic Development Award

    • Eligibility: Assistant Professor or above
    • Supports translation of preclinical findings (on a drug, device, or clinical guidelines) to the point of clinical development (clinical trials not included); must be “product-driven”—producing a drug or biologic, a device, or a knowledge-based product; proof of concept on the utility of the produce must already be demonstrated and strength of the scientific rationale for the project is a key review criterion
    • Support level: $3 million maximum direct costs over 3 year; 16 total awards are anticipated in FY2019
    • In addition to academics and research institutes, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have successfully competed for these awards in prior years
    • MDF comment: for drugs or biologics, this resembles NINDS/NIH translational cooperative agreement mechanisms focused on pre-IND activities; but the mechanism also includes activities such as developing and validating clinical guidance/guidelines for standard of care
    • Preapplications are due March 14, 2019; applications due July 11, 2019
  • Clinical Trial Award

    • Eligibility: Assistant Professor or above
    • Supports rapid implementation of clinical trials (trial launch within 12 months of award), from pilot/proof of concept through large scale definitive trials of novel interventions; requires an active IND or IDE; strength of scientific rationale for the project is a key review criterion
    • Support level: no funding limit is defined for this mechanism; maximum project period is 4 years; 9 total awards are anticipated in FY2019
    • MDF comment: eligibility includes industry, so clinical testing of novel candidate therapeutics in corporate-academic partnerships looks to be a competitive strategy
    • Preapplications are due March 14, 2019; applications due July 2, 2019

MDF strongly urges investigators in the myotonic dystrophy community to apply for the pool of funds allocated to the FY2019 PRMRP.

Full information on the PRMRP program can be found at: Note that while there are similarities to familiar NIH grant mechanisms, it is essential to read the Overview of the Funding Opportunity document carefully for the grant mechanism(s) you intend to apply. There are some unique requirements of each grant mechanism and your application may not be competitive unless those are addressed.