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Private Vision Research Funding Foundations Advocate with Their Congressional Delegations for FY2020 NIH/NEI Funding Increases

On March 28, NAEVR hosted a Private Vision Research Funding Foundation Advocacy Day with attendees from the previous day's Sixth Annual Vision Research Funding Partnership convening, which is hosted by Research to Prevent Blindness, RPB (see box below). In addition to requesting Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI), the advocates also described their organizations important role in the local economy and how they support researchers at academic institutions throughout the United States--including investigators in the early stage of their careers, as well as established researchers awaiting grant renewal who may need bridge funding to continue their work.

The eight participants representing seven organizations from across the nation met with 14 Congressional offices in both the House and Senate including a number where the Member serves on a Committee with appropriations or oversight authority over the NIH.

Commenting on the day's activities, RPB President Brian Hofland, PhD said,

"The National Eye Institute is by far the largest funder of vision research in the U.S. Thus, one of the most important things private foundations can do to support vision research is to engage in advocacy in support of the NEI."”
Brian Hofland, PhD (Research to Prevent Blindness) with Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
Brian Hofland, PhD (Research to Prevent Blindness) with Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
Torrey DeKeyser (Eyesight Foundation of Alabama) with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, which has oversight over the NIH
Torrey DeKeyser (Eyesight Foundation of Alabama) with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, which has oversight over the NIH
Torrey DeKeyser, left and Sara Brown (Prevent Blindness), with Cong. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) who serves on the House Appropriations Committee
Torrey DeKeyser, left and Sara Brown (Prevent Blindness), with Cong. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) who serves on the House Appropriations Committee
Michael Buckley (BrightFocus Foundation), left and Ben Shaberman (Foundation Fighting Blindness) with Melissa Guerrero, office of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a Senate Appropriations Committee member
Michael Buckley (BrightFocus Foundation), left and Ben Shaberman (Foundation Fighting Blindness) with Melissa Guerrero, office of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a Senate Appropriations Committee member

From left: Kathleen Rydar (That Man May See), Serena Gobbi, office of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a Senate Appropriations Committee member, and Tom Brunner (Glaucoma Research Foundation)
Brian Hofland, left, and Diana Friedman (Research to Prevent Blindness) with Juan Negrete, office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Dr. Hofland, left, and Diana Friedman (Research to Prevent Blindness) with Juan Negrete, office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

 

For the sixth year, RPB organized a convening of Private Vision Research Funding Foundations with federal agencies which support vision research (NEI) and vision loss prevention research and vision surveillance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC), as well as approve new ophthalmic drugs and devices (Food and Drug Administration). With a theme this year of The Eye as a Window to Overall Health, the event featured keynote presentations on the use of visual imaging to diagnose and monitor the progression of various diseases and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in ophthalmology, as well as reports on collaborations between the participating foundations. NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky participated and provided an update on federal funding for vision research and NAEVR's advocacy efforts.