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Department of Defense (DOD) & Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Funding Sources

This page provides a list of DOD and VA progams, procurement and sourcing vehicles, and funding mechanisms that support research and innovation in the field of hearing and auditory health. These programs are designed to enable investigators and organizations to secure funding for research and technology endeavors that advance the capabilities of, or fulfill a mission-critical need for, groups across the DOD or VA.

Defense Health Program (DHP)

The DHP Research and Development (RDT&E) capability area of Force Health Protection and Readiness (FHP&R) within the Military Health Service (MHS) oversees and provides direction for the planning, programming, budgeting and execution of DHP RDT&E activities. RDT&E activity funding includes DHP elements from 6.1 (basic research) through 6.7 (product/capability enhancement). The RDT&E capability area:

  • Assures that RDT&E planning and programming align to the requirements of the MHS strategic plan and mitigate Joint Force Health Protection/Joint Capability Document(s) capability gaps related to medical materiel solutions.
  • Applies a sense of urgency to the acquisition and insertion of medical/health technologies and other medical materiel solutions into JFHP/MHS capabilities and systems.
  • Makes broad investments in basic and applied medical research and development that increase fundamental knowledge, foster opportunities for breakthroughs and provide technology options and solutions for the future.
  • Ensures optimal research investment for the health, safety and care of DOD warfighters and other beneficiaries.
  • Promotes DOD-wide awareness of, and access to, private sector cutting-edge biomedical expertise and technology.
  • Assures expedited technology and product transition from bench and field research to DOD beneficiaries including warfighters.
  • Works to ensure that U.S. food and agriculture facilities and processes are secure.
  • Informs service members, their families and interested others about DOD, and other federally-funded, research on deployment-related health issues.
  • Encourages the ethical conduct of research with humans and animals.
  • Works to coordinate research activities to enhance a service member’s ability to carry out the mission in question.
  • Provides information and guidance on issues or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) surrounding DOD biomedical research.

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

The office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is funded through the DOD via annual congressional legislation known as the Defense Appropriations Act. For most programs, the DOD sends a multi-year budget request to Congress in the form of the President's budget. However, dollars for the CDMRP are not considered part of the DOD's core mission, and are therefore not included in the DOD's requested budget. Rather, the dollars to fund CDMRP are added every year during the budget approval cycle by members of the House or Senate in response to requests by consumer advocates and disease survivors.

CDMRP appropriations have funded almost $7 billion dollars worth of research since 1992, awarding funding to over 10 thousand grants/contracts in 29 research areas. Those most relevant to the HCE’s mission include:

  • Defense Medical R&D (FY 2012 appropriations of $153.2 million)
  • Deployment Related Medical (FY 2012 appropriations of $101.9 million)
  • DOD/VA (FY 2012 appropriations of $6.8 million)
  • Institutionally Based Programs (FY 2012 appropriations of $486.31 million)
  • Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (FY 2012 appropriations of $594.5 million)
  • Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury (FY 2012 appropriations of $476.9 million)

These programs are often applicable, directly or indirectly, to hearing-related research areas. However, the HCE is working to create a hearing and/or sensory-specific research area within the CDMRP portfolio.

Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP)

The Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP) is directed by the Defense Health Program Enhancement initiative in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The DMRDP is funded via non-congressional special interest appropriated dollars. Program execution is managed by the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), with program priorities identified by the Joint Program Committees (JPCs) and focused on combat casualty care, military clinical and rehabilitative medicine, military infectious diseases, and military operational medicine. Intramural and extramural research projects are funded via the DMRDP to promote program objectives, including the:

  • Discovery and exploration of innovative approaches to protect, support and advance the health and welfare of military personnel, families and communities.
  • Acceleration of the transition of medical technologies into deployed products.
  • Acceleration of the translation of advances in knowledge into new standards of care for injury prevention, treatment of casualties, rehabilitation and training systems that can be applied in theater or in the clinical facilities of the MHS.

The USAMRMC offices of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) and the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) are involved in program management at various execution milestones.

Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)

The TATRC performs medical reconnaissance and special operations to address critical gaps that are underrepresented in DOD medical research programs. TATRC is an office of the headquarters of the USAMRMC. TATRC fosters research on health informatics, telemedicine/m-Health, medical training systems, and computational biology. It also promotes and manages science and engineering in other key portfolios.

Through an extensive network of partners, TATRC is focused at both ends of the research spectrum, exploring models of high risk and innovative research and putting research findings into the hands of warfighters while looking toward wider civilian utility. TATRC augments core medical research programs through special funding and partnership opportunities.Acoustic trauma was added as a portfolio component under TATRC in 2009 in response to the marked increase in hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders among military service members returning from current conflicts. The focus of the portfolio component is to establish a collaborative multidisciplinary effort with scientists, engineers and industry to provide short and long-term solutions for the military. Current areas of focus include hearing/ear blast protection, medical treatment of acoustic trauma, objective measurement of tinnitus, tinnitus treatment, and hearing and vestibular rehabilitation. The portfolio’s key emphasis is on practical solutions to directly benefit the war fighter, but all areas of acoustic trauma that yield benefits to the military, its veterans and beneficiaries are of interest.

DOD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/ Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

SBIR: The SBIR program was established by Congress in 1982 with a statutory purpose to strengthen the role of innovative small business concerns (SBCs) in federally-funded research or research and development. Specific programs issues small business grants with the purpose to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation.
  • Use small business to meet federal research and development needs.
  • Foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged SBCs working in technological innovation endeavors.
  • Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development, thereby increasing competition, productivity and economic growth.

STTR: The STTR program is a sister program to the SBIR program, established by Congress in 1992 to fullfil a similar statutory purpose as SBIR. A major difference in the two programs is that the STTR requires the small business to have a research partner consisting of a university, federally-funded research and development center, or a qualified nonprofit research institution. In STTR, the small business must be the prime contractor and perform at least 40 percent of the work, with the research partner performing at least 30 percent of the work. The remaining balance can be completed by either party and/or a third party.

Air Force SBIR/STTR Program

The Air Force SBIR/STTR program is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Its mission is to serve the technology needs of the Air Force warfighter through technology simulation research by small businesses while providing the government with cost-effective technical and scientific solutions to challenging problems. AFRL’s mission is to lead the discovery, development, and integration of warfighting technologies for air, space and cyberspace forces to maintain the Air Force’s standing as the best in the world.

On a schedule coordinated by the DOD, the Air Force issues SBIR solicitations, usually one per year, that contain a series of "technical topics" that describe the areas of interest and needs of the Air Force. Small businesses are invited to submit proposals targeted at one or more of the technical topics listed in the solicitation. The STTR program works in the same manner, with only one solicitation per year.

Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)

JIEDDO leads DOD actions to rapidly provide counter-Improvised Expolosive Device (IED) capabilities in support of combatant commanders and to enable the defeat of the IED as a weapon of strategic influence.

Joint Incentive Fund (JIF)

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2003, Section 721, authorizes a DOD/ VA “Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund.” The purpose of the fund is to provide seed money for creative sharing initiatives at facility, regional and national levels to facilitate the mutually-beneficial coordination, use or exchange of health care resources. The ultimate goal is to improve access to, and enhance the quality and cost effectiveness of, health care provided to beneficiaries of both departments. The minimum VA and DOD contributions to the fund for FY 2004 to 2010 were $15 million, totaling $30 million per year. During that time, over 80 initiatives were funded. NDAA 2010 extended the JIF program until September 30, 2015.

Office of Naval Research (ONR)

As an executive branch agency within the DOD, ONR supports the President's budget. ONR provides technical advice to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy. ONR has six departments (or “codes”). Code 342 is the Warfighter Protection & Applications Division. Its mission is to conduct research and technology demonstration programs directed at maintaining the survival, health and performance of Navy and Marine Corps personnel during training, routine operations, special operations and war times.

Within this Division, the Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Program develops science and technology solutions aimed at optimizing warfighter performance and enhancing the flexibility, efficiency and safety of all warfighter missions. An important goal of this program is to decrease the incidence of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus and to improve situational awareness/communications in noisy operational environments. Solutions should extend the reach of the warfighter and allow freedom of action in sea, air and land operations. Solutions from diverse areas such as biological, computer, engineering, and behavioral sciences are encouraged, with the objective of developing improved methods, models, treatments and devices for understanding, preventing or mitigating adverse health effects associated with noisy operational environments that negatively impact Navy/Marine Corps operations. 

Program interests currently include, but are not limited to, understanding the pathology and etiology of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, pharmaceutical strategies to protect and/or recover from noise-induced hearing loss, cell regeneration, personal hearing protection equipment, dosimetry, talk-though circuitry and custom molded hearing protection technologies to improve warfighter effectiveness in combat and high-noise operational environments.

Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)

AFOSR manages the basic research investment for the U.S. Air Force. As a part of the AFRL, AFOSR's technical experts foster and fund research within AFRL, universities, and industry laboratories to ensure the transition of research results to support USAF needs. 

To accomplish this task, AFOSR solicits proposals for research through various Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs). One or more proposals may be submitted on any topic(s) listed in a BAA. All AFOSR funding opportunities are required to be posted on Grants.gov. 

Application forms and instructions are available at Grants.gov. To access these materials, go to www.grants.gov. There, you can search for and apply to opportunities posted by all grant-issuing federal agencies. The opportunity title acts as a clickable link to information on the BAA in question. You can also search Grants.gov by CFDA number. To find AFOSR opportunities, search CDFA numbers 12.800, 12.630 and 12.910.

Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF)
The DOD’s RIF, formerly known as the Rapid Innovation Program (RIP), is usually released in the form of a BAA.

The RIF is designed to transition innovative technologies, primarily from small businesses, that resolve DOD operational challenges including joint urgent operation needs.

Technology Transition Initiative (TTI)

Once a decision is made to move a technology from the science and technology (S&T) program into acquision, it often takes two to three years to obtain procurement funding to buy the product. During that time, many technology projects either become obsolete or are cancelled due to a lack of funding. To help address this need, Congress established TTI in 2002 to bridge the gap between demonstration and production S&T to funded technology.

TTI is intended to accelerate the introduction of new technologies into operational capabilities for the armed forces and can successfully demonstrate new technologies in relevant environments.  The S&T and acquisition executives of each military department and each appropriate Defense agency, as well as the commanders of the unified and specified combatant commands, nominate projects to be funded. The TTI program manager identifies promising projects that meet DOD technology goals and requirements in consultation with the Technology Transition Council. Then, the TTI program manager and the appropriate acquisition executive can share the transition cost. Although it is not required, service/agency contributions can be up to 50 percent of the total project cost. A project cannot be funded for more than four years.

To be considered for TTI funding, a project must meet the following criteria:

  • Technology developed with S&T funding.
  • Product has buyer with funds available to purchase it in later years.
  • Preferably, initiatve involves a joint or multi-service project (two or more services/agencies participating).
  • Preferably, initiative is structured to include cost sharing between TTI and the service/agency in order to maximize funding.
  • Project duration of the TTI project is less than four years.

VA Office of Research and Development (ORD)

The VA ORD seeks to discover knowledge, develop VA researchers and health care leaders, and create innovations that advance health care for our veterans and the nation.

ORD consists of four research services that together form a cohesive whole to explore all phases of veterans' health care needs. Each service oversees a number of renowned research centers nationwide. Examples include:

Each of these four services is headed by a director who is supervised by the Chief Research and Development Officer who, in turn, reports to the Office of the Under Secretary for Health.

In order to spur more collaboration between agencies focus on clinical health research, VA and DOD researchers have produced a new 56-page guidebook. To view the resource online, visit the VA/DoD Collaboration Guidebook for Healthcare Research page.

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