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Graphic available from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The amount of budgetary resources devoted to research has steadily increased over the last two years, and is projected to rise again in 2017. Roughly $630,735,000 plus reimbursements is available through September 30, 2017, and $663,366,000 plus reimbursements remains available for research until September 30, 2018.

The VA is requesting $663 million in research dollars for 2017, an increase of $33 million or 5% over 2016. View all active VA-funded studies on NIH RePORTER.

Please see the VA Submission Calendar for funding opportunity deadline information. 

Merit Review Awards

Merit Review Awards are for investigator-initiated VA research. It is an intramural funding program for research conducted by eligible investigators at VAMCs or VA-approved sites. There are four core divisions:

  • Clinical Science Research and Development (CSR&D) Merit Review Awards fund clinical, behavioral, and epidemiological research on disorders and diseases of importance to the health of veterans, including experimental and observational studies involving human subjects for research purposes.
  • Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development (BLR&D) Merit Review Awards fund preclinical, biomedical, and behavioral studies of disorders and diseases of importance to veterans, including in vitro and in vivo studies using tissue cultures, animal models, or human biomedical samples, or from tissues acquired without direct contact with subjects. 
  • Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Merit Review Awards fund research examining organization, delivery, and financing of healthcare from the perspective of patients, caregivers, providers, and managers to improve the quality of healthcare. 
  • Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) Merit Review Awards fund basic, translational, and clinical studies of disorders and diseases of importance to the rehabilitation of veterans. The goal of RR&D is to maximize functional recovery and areas of emphasis are broad, including preclinical, clinical, or applied rehabilitation research with strong implications for translation into clinical practice to advance rehabilitative healthcare for veterans. 

Research opportunities are available at the VA in the following focus areas. Please see the VA Submission Calendar for deadline information. 

Information available from the Department of Veteran Affairs

Precision Medicine: President’s Precision Medicine Initiative

In 2017 and 2018, VA’s research priorities focus on ensuring world-class care for Veterans throughout their lives, emphasizing personalized precision medicine approaches to improve clinical outcomes, and developing a Learning Health Care System. The Million Veteran Program (MVP) to advance the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) is a major goal for VA research in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, additional spending may be available to support the PMI. The number of projects funded for Gulf War Veterans research has steadily increased over the last few years. 2014 - $9.7 mil 2015 - $10.5 mil 2016 - $12.5 mil 2017 - $15 mil (estimate).

Women Veteran's Health 

VA is expanding research efforts to improve women Veterans’ health, by studying how VA provides for women Veterans’ general and gender-specific health care needs, and understanding military experiences of women Veterans as well as later health risk factors.

Mental Health 

Research supporting PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance use disorders and other conditions associated with military service and combat exposure. The VA plans to invest $15 million to support its new initiative to investigate the impact of pharmacogenomics strategies for drug selection in up to 21,500 Veterans with PTSD, depression, pain and/or substance abuse over the next five years. In addition, the VA plans to use $50 million for “next generation sequencing” to research genes for susceptibility to PTSD, substance abuse and other conditions in up to 100,000 Veterans to shed light on the molecular changes in the brain that cause or increase the risk for these illnesses.


The VA cancer research portfolio has one of the largest investments in resources, with close to 250 active projects and $59.5 million allocated in 2017, and is targeted towards understanding and preventing cancers prevalent in the Veteran population. Research includes: research on cancers common in the Veteran population including prostate, lung, colorectal, bladder, kidney, pancreatic, skin, esophageal, and female-specific cancers; lab experiments aimed at discovering the molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in cancer, the causes of disease; clinical trials to evaluate new or existing treatments and studies focused on improving end-of-life care. 

Biomedical Engineering and Prosthetics for Wounded Veterans 

VA will advance engineering research and development to improve the lives of disabled Veterans by personalizing prosthetic systems that replace lost limbs or activate remaining nerves and muscles.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (“CVD”), which includes heart disease, stroke, and other vascular disease, is the leading cause of death for men and women. VA research is focused on optimizing CVD and treatment. Military experiences can contribute to stress and subsequent hypertension. VA research is exploring the relationship between PTSD and CVD, and evaluating treatments that reduce stress in those with PTSD. 


Researchers at the VA are investigating innovative strategies and technologies to enhance access to diabetes care and to improve outcomes for patients, as well as developing better ways to prevent or treat diabetes. VA researchers are also conducting genetic “linkage studies” to identify genes associated with various diseases, including diabetes. VA researchers are also involved in a major NIH-funded comparative effectiveness study of different diabetes drugs. 

Gulf War Illness 

Many 1990-1991 Gulf War Veterans are affected by a debilitating cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that may include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. VA researchers are studying Gulf War illness and related health problems, including two new drug treatments, the VA’s Gulf War Registry program, and studies aimed at improving the care Gulf War era Veterans receive, to name a few. 

Integrative Medicine 

Many VA Medical Centers are now offering complimentary and alternative (CAM) therapies to their patients, including yoga, acupuncture, and meditation training. The VA is interested in research opportunities to determine the effectiveness of CAM therapies and for what populations CAM therapies work best. 

Aging: Care for the "Golden Veteran" 

The VA's Research on Aging focuses on: Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and other diseases prevalent in the elderly.

  1. Go to the VA's Office of Research and Development website for a global introduction to VA research as well as Resources for Researchers
  2. Email Dr. Hurley at robin.hurley@va.gov and meet with her to see if your interests match with VA.
  3. Complete the process to become a "without-compensation employee (WOC employee)" of the local VAMC. This allows an investigator to get behind the computer "firewall" to search for grant opportunities, which is each investigator's responsibility. This WOC process can, at times, be somewhat cumbersome. The process can take up to 90 days to complete. However, the benefits do outweigh the process challenges. If an investigator finds that the process gets stalled, the investigator needs to contact Dr. Hurley and she will assist. The VA is always working on ways to improve this process and make it smoother. However, if challenges occur, it is the investigator's responsibility to email or call Dr. Hurley for assistance.
  4. Once an investigator has a WOC appointment, then he/she can request "off-site" access to the VHA computer system, so that presence on VA property is not required to search for grant opportunities.
  5. Once a grant opportunity/call for proposals is identified, the investigator writes a full grant application. It is then submitted via grants.gov with assistance of the Salisbury VAMC research office.