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Emerging Vision Scientists Energize NAEVR Central at ARVO 2016

James Jorkasky and David Epstein in front of the NAEVR Central Booth
James Jorkasky and David Epstein in front of the NAEVR Central Booth
The NAEVR Central Booth at the ARVO Annual Meeting 2016 in Seattle, Washington, was a bright spot at the meeting literally, due to its location on the sun-filled Skybridge, and figuratively, due to information provided about various vision research funding opportunities. As in past years, attendees contacted Congress regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) increases—requesting NIH funding to $34.5 billion and NEI to $770 million—which builds on the $2 billion NIH Congress passed in FY2016 appropriations (NIH funding at $32 billion, NEI funding increased by $31 million to $708 million).

Booth traffic included many early-stage investigators who were interested in participating in AEVR’s second annual Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) Day on Capitol Hill, scheduled for September 14-15, 2016. They were responding to a solicitation AEVR had just sent to Ophthalmology Department Chairs/Research Directors and the Deans of Schools/Colleges of Optometry seeking nominations. EVSs who participated in the first-ever October 7-8, 2015, event, as well as in the EVS track during the February 6, 2016, ARVO Annual Meeting Program Committee Advocacy Day, also stopped by to relate how their participation gave them a broader perspective on the legislative and policy process behind biomedical research funding.

Daniel Pelaez, Ph.D. (Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/University of Miami Miller School of Medicine) and his colleagues—many of whom are early-stage investigators. Dr. Pelaez participated in AEVR’s first-ever Emerging Vision Scientists Day, held in October 2015.
Daniel Pelaez, Ph.D. (Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/University of Miami Miller School of Medicine) and his colleagues—many of whom are early-stage investigators. Dr. Pelaez participated in AEVR’s first-ever Emerging Vision Scientists Day, held in October 2015.
NAEVR also assisted attendees in scheduling one-on-one meetings with representatives of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which manages the dedicated $10 million Vision Research Program (VRP). NAEVR also engaged CDMRP Vision Program Manager Robert Read in speaking at the Monday, May 2, NAEVR Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities session, at which he announced that the CDMRP would shortly award $18 million to researchers from the combined FY2015/2016 funding cycle.

NAEVR wishes to thank the hundreds of ARVO members who visited the booth to support its advocacy efforts.


Cheryl Craft, Ph.D. (University of Southern California/USC Eye Institute) contacts Congress

Early-stage investigators Eva Devience, M.D. and Mona Kaleem, M.D., both from the University of Maryland

From left: Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., President, Global Medical Innovation and former Director of the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence, Tim Hornik (U.S. Army, Ret), and Jeff Radel, Ph.D. (University of Kansas Medical Center). Mr. Hornik lost his vision while serving in Iraq and is now participating in a Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas, with Dr. Radel serving as his mentor.

From left: Brian Hofland, Ph.D., President of Research to Prevent Blindness, Jason Comander, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye & Ear//Harvard School of Medicine), and Greg Skuta, M.D. (University of Oklahoma/Dean McGee Eye Institute). Dr. Comander participated in AEVR’s 2015 EVS Day, while Dr. Skuta had just been elected to the NAEVR and AEVR Boards of Directors.