ARVO, NAEVR Witness Testifies Regarding NIH/NEI Funding

House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), center, and Robert Anderson, Ph.D., left, and Daniel Carr, Ph.D., right, both from the Dean McGee Eye Institute/University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

On May 29, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) member and ocular immunology researcher Daniel Carr, Ph.D. from the Dean McGee Eye Institute at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center testified on behalf of ARVO and NAEVR in a Public Witness hearing held by the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee. This hearing, chaired by Cong. Tom Cole (R-OK) and attended by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and bipartisan members of the Subcommittee, followed a March 3 hearing with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

In front of a packed hearing room, Dr. Carr testified about the impact that federal funding for the NIH and the National Eye Institute (NEI) has had on “people and products, patient outcomes, and private industries.” He was nominated to testify by ARVO and endorsed by NAEVR after he participated in the February 6 ARVO Advocacy Day. Commenting on his first experience in testifying before Congress, Dr. Carr made the following observation:

“Little did I know that, when I participated in the ARVO Advocacy Day in February, ARVO would nominate me to testify in April before the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. I was honored to be one of the 23 public witnesses chosen out of 157 nominations. I was pleased to emphasize the importance of adequately funding the NIH and the NEI, and was humbled to be among so many dedicated advocates for the important programs funded by the LHHS bill. I encourage my fellow researchers to be responsive when ARVO and NAEVR ask the vision community to contact Congress to support vision research funding.”

Another ARVO member, Robert Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., also from Dean McGee/University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, testified about the impact of the NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program in building and sustaining the vision research program at Dean McGee.

The members present were largely supportive of the NIH and acknowledged the huge return on investment from every dollar the agency receives. But they said the existing Budget Control Act caps will make a meaningful increase to NIH funding difficult unless Congress can develop a bipartisan budget agreement.

Dr. Carr speaking with Joseph Haywood, Ph.D., President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)

NAEVR James Jorkasky (left) and ARVO’s Matt Windsor, Ph.D. (right), held a debriefing session with Dr. Carr in the Longworth House office building cafeteria