Ovarian Cancer Research Program at the Department of Defense:
The Department of Defense’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program∗ (OCRP), a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) established in 1997, conducts innovative, multidisciplinary research on early detection, screening and treatment of ovarian cancer. The OCRP also works to attract new investigators to the field of ovarian cancer research. Modeled after the successful Breast Cancer Research Program created in 1992, the OCRP has helped advance understanding and treatment of ovarian cancer by supporting:
- A new treatment using nanoparticles to deliver diphtheria toxin-encoding DNA to ovarian cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected;
- The discovery of a compound that potentially inhibits a form of ovarian cancer that makes up 40% of ovarian cancer tumors; and
- Finding that ovarian cancer cells are sensitive to glucose deprivation and resveratrol treatment.
Cancer research performed by the DoD has been responsible for fundamentally changing the way cancer research is conducted. Many innovative practices and methods created by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDRMPs) have been adopted by the NCI, such as the use of cancer patients as consumer reviewers in the proposal review process. Furthermore, the CDRMP has also created funding mechanisms to incentivize research, such as the Idea Award, that would fill voids in our understanding of cancer that have been closely duplicated by NCI. Other awards originated by CDRMPs that have been duplicated by NCI are the Era of Hope Scholar and Concept Award mechanisms.
In a time that necessitates fiscal constraint, the OCRP has been designed to fund ovarian cancer research with extremely low overhead: only four to eight percent of the federal funding is used for administration costs.
Additionally, biomedical research, such as that conducted through the DoD OCRP, is a major provider of jobs in the United States economy. A 2008 Families USA study found that for every NIH dollar invested in states two dollars of economic output were created. Additionally, the report estimated that approximately 350,000 jobs were supported by medical research in 2007.
The OCRP remains a modest program compared to the other cancer programs in the CDMRP yet has made vast strides in the fight against ovarian cancer with relatively few resources. With flat funding for FY12, the program can maintain current levels of research regarding ovarian cancer screening, early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. In light of this, we request that Congress appropriate $20 million for FY 2012 to the OCRP.
Innovation Without Duplication
The CDMRPs take great care to avoid duplicating research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The CDMRPs have processes in place during the submission and peer review process to ensure that funds are directed toward non-duplicative research:
- When a proposal is submitted to a CDMRP for consideration for funding, the CDRMP requires the principal investigator of a proposal to write a section on current and pending funding as part of the proposals.
- During the peer review process of proposals, peer reviewers with extensive knowledge of the subject under review determine if the research has been done or is the subject of another grant.
- After a proposal has been recommended for funding, CDMRP grants managers check all available sources of information to determine if there is overlap of the research with another grant that is funded or has been submitted for funding by the Department of Defense or another federal agency.
- Grant managers routinely contact their counterparts at NIH/NCI to determine if duplicative research has been funded.
- CDMRP peer reviewers review the lists and identify any potential duplication or overlap.
- CDMRP Science Officers manage the grants and also review these lists for any potential duplication or overlap.
- If there is potential overlap or duplication, the CDMRP request copies of the funded proposals and review them to determine if duplication or overlap occurs.
- If duplication is found, the research is not funded.