NAEVR and ARVO Participate in the Sixth Annual Rally for Medical Research Advocacy Day As Congress Works to Finalize FY2019 NIH/NEI Appropriations
NAEVR co-hosted the New York delegation, which met with Matthew Fuentes in the office of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer
On September 13, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky and ARVO’s Senior Manager, Science Communications, Matt Windsor, PhD served as state delegation hosts for the sixth annual Rally for Medical Research Advocacy Day (see box below for Rally history). The event, for which NAEVR served as a Bronze Sponsor, engaged more than 200 researchers and advocates in nearly 500 Capitol Hill meetings.
Timing of the event was propitious, as Congressional leaders were finalizing the Conference Report for H.R. 6157, the “minibus” appropriations bill that combines Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) spending bills (the Report was released later that day). In their messaging, the advocates thanked Members of Congress for the $7 billion in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding increases from fiscal years 2016 to 2018 and urged offices to support the $2 billion FY2019 NIH increase to a funding level of $39.08 billion that was included in the Senate’s LHHS bill (and which was the funding level in the Conference Report).
In a September 12 reception, key leaders such as Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chair of the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Subcommittee Ranking Member, spoke, expressing their support for robust NIH funding and thanking advocates for their commitment. Since NAEVR was a sponsor, Rally organizers displayed on a poster a quote from NAEVR President Peter McDonnell, MD (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) which read:
“In 2018, the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the NIH is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its creation by Congress to lead our nation’s vision research mission. What were previously “untreatable” blinding eye diseases —such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy—are now managed through therapies emerging from NEI research to save sight. Taking advantage of major NIH-wide advances in gene discovery, regenerative medicine, and imaging, the NEI is that much closer to the translation of these discoveries into effective treatments in the clinic to restore vision. Given the enormous impact of vision loss on both quality of life and societal cost, the potential gains from NEI’s sight-saving research are immeasurable,”
At the September 13 Preparatory Breakfast, Cong. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)—in whose district the NIH campus is located—commented that, “Support for the NIH is not a bipartisan issue, it is a non-partisan issue.”
Cong. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) addresses the Preparatory Breakfast
Advocates posed for an image prior to boarding buses to Capitol Hill
NAEVR At Past Rally for Medical Research Activities
The Rally was held in Mount Vernon Square in front of the Washington D.C. Convention Center in the heart of the city. Several surrounding streets were closed to accommodate the crowd.