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Researchers Thank Congress for FY2017 Funding Increases, Express Concern About FY2018

James Jorkasky and David Epstein in front of the NAEVR Central Booth in the Baltimore Convention Center
James Jorkasky and David Epstein in front of the NAEVR Central Booth in the Baltimore Convention Center
Since Congress passed and the President signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Omnibus spending bill by the April 28 expiration date of the Continuing Resolution (CR), researchers visited the NAEVR Central Booth to thank members of Congress—a mere 40 miles away from Baltimore in Washington, D.C.—for the $2 billion, or 6.2 percent increase, in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to $34.1 billion, which includes National Eye Institute (NEI) funding at $732.6 million, or a 2.3 percent increase. The FY2017 increase builds upon the FY2016 $2 billion NIH increase.

Booth traffic included several early-stage investigators who participated in AEVR’s September 2016 Second Annual Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) Day on Capitol Hill who expressed a sense of accomplishment in their successful advocacy efforts. AEVR used the ARVO Annual Meeting as an opportunity to begin recruitment for the Third Annual EVS Day, set for September 13-14, 2017.

As appreciative as the advocates were for the past two years of NIH/NEI funding increases, they expressed concern in their email letters about FY2018 funding, specifically requesting that Congress continue the pattern of sustained and predictable NIH funding with a $2 billion increase to a funding level of $36.1 billion. In its March 16 Budget Blueprint, the Trump Administration has proposed to cut NIH by $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, and reorganize NIH/re-prioritize research.

Since the FY2017 Omnibus spending bill also included $15 million in Vision Research Program (VRP) funding within the Department of Defense (DOD)—a $5 million increase over the $10 million appropriated in each of fiscal years 2013-2016—NAEVR also educated researchers about the expected Program Announcement for VRP grant submissions, to be posted on the DOD’s Congressional-directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Web site. NAEVR assisted attendees in scheduling one-on-one meetings with DOD/CDMRP representatives to discuss DOD-identified vision research gaps and how they can be responsive in grant submissions. NAEVR also engaged CDMRP Vision Program Manager Robert Read in speaking at the Monday, May 8, NAEVR Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities session.

NAEVR wishes to thank the hundreds of ARVO members who visited the booth to support the vision community’s advocacy efforts.

NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky assists Allen Taylor, Ph.D. (Tufts University) with contacting Congress
NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky assists Allen Taylor, Ph.D. (Tufts University) with contacting Congress
Felix Barker, O.D., Associate Director of Rehabilitation and Reintegration at the Joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (DOD/VA) Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) discusses military eye trauma issues with James Jorkasky
Felix Barker, O.D., Associate Director of Rehabilitation and Reintegration at the Joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (DOD/VA) Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) discusses military eye trauma issues with James Jorkasky
Mary Sunderland, Ph.D. from The Foundation Fighting Blindness/Canada with James Jorkasky
Mary Sunderland, Ph.D. from The Foundation Fighting Blindness/Canada with James Jorkasky