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NAEVRís Defense Funding Session Complements the Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury Session at the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting

NAEVRís May 2 Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities session focused on how researchers can be responsive to Department of Defense (DOD)-identified vision research gaps. Vision Program Manager Robert Read from the DODís Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which manages the dedicated $10 million Vision Research Program (VRP) in Defense appropriations, spoke about funding opportunities from the VRP and other DOD programs.

Mr. Read stated that, since the VRP was created by Congress in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 appropriations, the CDMRP has issued 67 awards totaling $50 million, and that shortly it would award another $18 million to researchers from the combined FY2015/2016 funding cycle. Since a new VRP funding announcement will not issue until FY2017 appropriations are finalized, he spoke about other DOD funding opportunities, including the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. In discussion after Mr. Readís comments, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky reminded attendees that the DOD funding opportunities were available to domestic and international researchers, and that those who navigate the VRP are more likely to apply for funding from other DOD programs with key words such as sensory and rehabilitation and diseases with a visual component.

Past VRP awardees—whom AEVR has featured in Congressional Briefings—spoke about their experiences in successfully navigating the VRP grant process in previous funding cycles. This included Andrew Hartwick, O.D., Ph.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry), who is studying Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related photophobia (light-sensitivity) and Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School), who is developing a drug-delivering contact lens.

Mr. Read and colleague Marc Mitchell met one-on-one with researchers at a dedicated CDMRP booth from Sunday through Wednesday. NAEVR wishes to thank them for their participation and their commitment to the soldiers who have experienced battlefield eye injuries.

In its advocacy for FY2017 Defense appropriations, NAEVR has requested VRP funding at $15 million.

Robert Read, Vision Program Manager at the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), speaks to the crowd
Robert Read, Vision Program Manager at the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), speaks to the crowd
Andrew Hartwick, O.D., Ph.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry)
Andrew Hartwick, O.D., Ph.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry)
Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Mass Eye & Ear/Harvard Medical School)
Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Mass Eye & Ear/Harvard Medical School)

Prior to the May 2 defense funding session, on April 29 ARVO hosted a session on Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury, which focused on the outlook for therapeutics. Open to the public, the session featured the latest research into concussive and TBI-related injuries, emphasizing the parallels between visual dysfunction resulting from sports injuries and military deployment-related TBI. Dr. Hartwick spoke, relating his research into therapeutics for TBI-related photophobia.


Cong. James McDermott (D-WA)

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

Cong. Jim McDermott, M.D. (D-WA), who provided a welcome, related his experience as a Chief Psychiatrist at the Long Beach Naval Station during the Vietnam War treating patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—although at the time it was not yet identified as such. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), an appropriator and a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, also provided a pre-recorded welcome.

To watch the session, click here.