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AEVR Supports VA Research Week

Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa) speaks about his VA-funded research
Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa) speaks about his VA-funded research
On April 25, AEVR served as a co-sponsor of a Congressional Briefing entitled Veterans Health Research: Improving the Lives of America’s Heroes which was held by the Friends of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA). AEVR provided one of the featured speakers, Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as the Director of the Iowa City VA Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss, as well as the Pomerantz Family Chair in Ophthalmology, Professor of Ophthalmology, and Director of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service at the University Iowa. Dr. Kardon had previously spoken for AEVR at its February 2011 Congressional Briefing on his Department of Defense (DOD)-funded research into the diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders resulting from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Dr. Kardon, a clinician-scientist who receives funding from the VA, the DOD, and the National Eye Institute (NEI), reported that there are more than one million veterans with poor vision and legal blindness. With respect to recent veteran stakeholders, he noted that 44 percent of patient encounters associated with veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn relate to diseases of the nervous system and sense organs.

Dr. Kardon described the focus of his research, which include: TBI-related visual disorders; neuroprotection and treatment of vision loss; and the detection, monitoring and treatment of eye and Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases. In describing his research to save and restore vision, Dr. Kardon described the emotional aspects of vision loss. “For my patients, restoring vision is like being reborn and having a whole new life,” adding that it also gives hope to other patients for their own recovery and rehabilitation.

Dr. Kardon also spoke passionately about the importance of the VA Career Development Award, which provides funding for young clinician-scientists who treat VA patients and conduct medical research applicable to the VA’s needs. He noted that he was the first ophthalmologist to receive this award, and that 70 percent of VA investigators are clinician-scientists.

Dr. Kardon was joined in speaking by Paula Schnurr, Ph.D, the Deputy Executive Director of the VA National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Schnurr focused on her research into the impact of PTSD on women.

Joel Kupersmith, M.D., the VA’s Chief Research and Development Officer, concluded the session emphasizing the value and benefits of VA research and stressing the importance of educating the public about this important resource. “The VA has 3,000 researchers, including three Nobel Prize winners. The VA also collaborates with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is in discussions to better coordinate with research needs with the VA. We are here to help the veterans who so bravely served our nation.”

Left to right: Paula Schnurr, Ph.D. (Dartmouth Medical School), who described her research into the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in women, joined Dr. Kardon as a featured speaker
Left to right: Paula Schnurr, Ph.D. (Dartmouth Medical School), who described her research into the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in women, joined Dr. Kardon as a featured speaker
Cong. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), who serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, provided a welcome to attendees. Cong. Buerkle initially worked as a nurse prior to receiving her law degree
Cong. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), who serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, provided a welcome to attendees. Cong. Buerkle initially worked as a nurse prior to receiving her law degree.