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Researchers Urge Congress to Raise Budget Caps to Facilitate FY2020 NIH/NEI Funding Increases


James Jorkasky and David Epstein in front of the NAEVR Central Booth in the Vancouver Convention Centre

Once again, the NAEVR Central Booth served as the Town Hall for vision research funding advocacy and education. NAEVR wishes to thank the hundreds of ARVO members who visited, including those who contacted Congress to express appreciation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 increases in National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding and requested continued robust increases in FY2020.

Prior to making this request, NAEVR's Contact Congress email letter first acknowledged that ARVO has joined with more than 20 other leading scientific societies in urging Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to raise FY2020 and FY2021 Budget Control Act caps to facilitate increases in critical nondefense discretionary spending, such as biomedical research.

On April 30, during the ARVO meeting, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY2020 spending bill which includes $2 billion, or a 5.1 percent increase over FY2019, in NIH funding to a level of $41.08 billion, and $39 million, or a 5 percent increase over FY2019, in NEI funding to a level of $835.5 million, The full House Appropriations Committee was expected to consider the bill at its May 9 markup.

NAEVR also answered questions from researchers about the Department of Defense's (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) funding, which was addressed at NAEVR's April 29 Defense Related Vision Research Opportunities session by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Vision Program Manager Q. Tian Wang, PhD. She spoke about the CDMRP's April 5 Preliminary Program Announcement for FY2019 VRP funding, detailing the three types of planned award mechanisms. The full Program Announcement is expected in late May.

Sandra Blackwood of NAEVR member organization International Retinal Research Foundation contacts Congress. In the past, NAEVR has hosted Ms. Blackwood in visits with the Alabama Congressional delegation.
Sandra Blackwood of NAEVR member organization International Retinal Research Foundation contacts Congress. In the past, NAEVR has hosted Ms. Blackwood in visits with the Alabama Congressional delegation.
NAEVR’s David Epstein speaks with two researchers who participated in AEVR’s Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) Day on Capitol Hill – Heather Livengood, PhD (New York University), center, from the Class of 2017, and Iris Kassem, MD, PhD (Medical College of Wisconsin), right, from the Class of 2016. At ARVO, AEVR began recruiting participants for the Fifth Annual EVS Day, to be held September 18-19 and is supported by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness.
NAEVR’s David Epstein speaks with two researchers who participated in AEVR’s Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) Day on Capitol Hill  Heather Livengood, PhD (New York University), center, from the Class of 2017, and Iris Kassem, MD, PhD (Medical College of Wisconsin), right, from the Class of 2016. At ARVO, AEVR began recruiting participants for the Fifth Annual EVS Day, to be held September 18-19 and is supported by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness.

ARVO Honors NAEVR/AEVR Director

On April 30 at ARVO's Annual Business Meeting, then-ARVO President Steven Fliesler, PhD (SUNY-Buffalo/VA Medical Center-Buffalo), left, who also serves as a NAEVR/AEVR Director, presented ARVO's 2019 Joanne G. Angle Award to NAEVR/AEVR Director Thomas Yorio, PhD, FARVO (University of North Texas Health Science Center), who recently stepped down as Alliances Treasurer. The award, which is named for long-time ARVO Executive Director Joanne Angle, recognizes a member's contributions.