Way back in December, just as the holiday madness got under way, I commenced my second assignment as an online peer reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. What’s this mouthful, you might ask?
From the CDMRP press release given to those of us who participated:
“As a lung cancer advocate, I recently had the opportunity to serve as a consumer reviewer evaluating research applications submitted to the Lung Cancer Research Program (LCRP) sponsored by the Department of Defense. As a consumer reviewer, I was a full voting member, along with prominent scientists, as part of an online review process to help determine how the $12.8 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2011 will be spent on future lung cancer research.
Consumer reviewers represent the collective view of those living with lung cancer, their family members, and persons at risk for the disease as we evaluate the impact of each application.
You can get more information on the Lung Cancer Research Program, including how to serve as a consumer reviewer, on the (CDMRP) Web site.”
The CDMRP is devoted to medical research and the amount of money dedicated to specific conditions is determined annually by the House and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittees. From the CDMRP website:
“The Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is funded through the Department of Defense (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.”
On the CDMRP site, you can find a bar graph illustrating the history of their allocations. Breast cancer research has been heavily funded since the inception, and there is a reason for this. From a CDMRP publication in 2001:
“The origin of the CDMRP can be traced back to1992 when a congressional appropriation of $25M was made for “army breast cancer research.” At the same time, the breast cancer consumer community, led by the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), was raising public and legislator awareness of gaps in breast cancer research and lobbied to increase the Nation’s investment in breast cancer research. In 1992, the NBCC presented President Clinton with a 2.6 million- signature petition for a comprehensive plan to put an end to breast cancer. This grassroots movement led to a fiscal year 1993 (FY93) congressional appropriation to the DOD for $210M targeted toward breast cancer research. The USAMRMC1was assigned responsibility for administering these dollars. Within the USAMRMC, a new research area directorate, the CDMRP, was established to administer the FY93 Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP), as well as to manage awards that were supported by the FY92 DOD breast cancer research appropriation.”
In the ensuing years, a staggering 6.978 billion has been appropriated for medical research (FY1992-2012). The Lung Cancer Alliance made it their mission to see that some of that money went to lung cancer. Their lobbying efforts paid off, and in 2008 twenty million dollars was earmarked for lung cancer research for the 2009 fiscal year. Since then, an additional thirty eight million has been secured. Not bad, and a real victory for lung cancer. However, just for comparison, Breast cancer research received 2.66 billion dollars in appropriations between the fiscal years of 1992 and 2011 and an additional 120 million in 2012. It is definitely a case of the squeaky wheel getting the oil. Time to make some noise of our own. And while you’re at it, consider applying to be a peer reviewer. You might find yourself with a nice note in your inbox:
Dear Ms. Duff:
On behalf of the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), I would like to express our sincere gratitude for your exemplary efforts as a consumer reviewer for applications submitted for the fiscal year 2011 Lung Cancer Research Program (LCRP). The continued success of this highly visible and competitive program is dependent on maintaining the highest standards of excellence in scientific peer review. We recognize that you have responded generously with your time and valuable perspective to fulfill the demanding requirements of this peer review process. Feedback from reviewers and program staff alike indicates that this peer review process was a success, and it would not have been possible without your hard work and dedication. Because of your efforts, the LCRP draws that much closer to fulfilling its mission.