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Army’s Dr. Don Gagliano Named as Director of the
Vision Center of Excellence

Legislative Update
November 12, 2008

Colonel Donald Gagliano. M.D. (center) with NAEVR Board member David Pyott (left), Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Allergan, Inc., and NAEVR  President Stephen Ryan, M.D. (right), Doheny Eye Institute
Colonel Donald Gagliano. M.D. (center) with NAEVR Board member David Pyott (left), Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Allergan, Inc., and NAEVR President Stephen Ryan, M.D. (right), Doheny Eye Institute
On November 6, S. Ward Casscells, M.D., the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, named Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. as the Director of the Vision Center of Excellence. Most recently, Dr. Gagliano served as Director of the Clinical Investigations Regulatory Office in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Claude Cowan, Jr., M.D., a former NAEVR Board member, will serve as the Center’s Deputy Director.

The Vision Center of Excellence and an accompanying Military Eye Injury Registry were provisions of the Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act (METTA) that were included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, passed in late January 2008, but not funded at that time. Subsequently, Congress included $6.9 million in funding in the FY2009 Military Construction/Veteran Affairs appropriations bill passed in late September 2008, with an additional $2 million for development of the Injury Registry.

Dr. Gagliano with Tom Zampieri, Blinded Veterans Association, who advocated strenuously for the creation and funding of the Vision Center and Injury Registry
Dr. Gagliano with Tom Zampieri, Blinded Veterans Association, who advocated strenuously for the creation and funding of the Vision Center and Injury Registry
The Vision Center of Excellence will address the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of military eye injuries, as well as coordinate work on the Injury Registry. The Center will also facilitate vision research, including research on prevention, visual dysfunction related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and military eye injuries. Although the Vision Center of Excellence is a Department of Defense (DOD) program, it will coordinate with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It will be headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and will coordinate with Clinical Centers of Excellence around the country at existing medical centers.

NAEVR joined the vision community in strongly supporting the Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act, which was sponsored by Congressman John Boozman (R-AR). NAEVR was fortunate to have met with Dr. Gagliano on November 5, along with representatives of several Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), and to host him a few days later at a meeting of the NAEVR Board of Directors held at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) annual meeting.

At the AAO meeting, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky participated in a session entitled Combat-Related Research Opportunities at which he spoke about the first-ever dedicated line item for Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision, funded at $4 million, which is included in FY2009 Defense appropriations. Recently, NAEVR has worked with the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) to request that both the Center of Excellence/Injury Registry and the Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision line item be adequately funded in the FY2010 appropriations process, per The Independent Budget, which is an annual set of recommendations to Congress regarding DOD/VA funding developed by the VSOs.

Vision community advocacy for the Vision Center of Excellence/Injury Registry included:

Left to right: Colonel Robert Mazzoli, M.D., F.A.C.S., Assistant Secretary of Defense S. Ward Casscells, M.D., then-AAO President-Elect Michael Brennan, M.D., and VA Secretary James Peake, M.D
In April 2008, at its Mid-Year Forum, the American Academy of Ophthalmology hosted key DOD/VA officials to urge implementation of the Center/Registry. Left to right: Colonel Robert Mazzoli, M.D., F.A.C.S., Assistant Secretary of Defense S. Ward Casscells, M.D., then-AAO President-Elect Michael Brennan, M.D., and VA Secretary James Peake, M.D.

In May 2008, Cong. John Boozman (R-AR, center seated), leaders of the optometry community, BVA’s Tom Zampieri, and NAEVR’s James Jorkasky met with DOD health officials and patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.