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DOD Announces $10 Million in Vision Research Portfolio Grants Funded Primarily by the Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision Line Item in Defense Appropriations

Legislative Update
May 7, 2010

TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read announces defense vision awards
TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read announces defense vision awards
At a Monday, May 3, standing room-only session held by NAEVR at the ARVO Annual Meeting, representatives from the Department of Defense's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) announced $10 million in grant awards to vision researchers from its Vision Research Program (VRP). The net total of these awards reflects Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and FY 2010 Congressional appropriations of $4 million and $3.75 million from the Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision (PRMR-Vision) program line item in defense funding plus $3.2 million provided by TATRCís "sister" agency within the U.S Armyís Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC), the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program (CRMRP), minus administrative costs.

[Note: A TATRC-generated poster distributed at the session about the grant awards, noting recipients, amounts, and applicability of the awards to the five critical areas identified in the June 2009 Program Announcement, has been updated to reflect additional CRMRP funding and subsequent awards. Mr. Read's Powerpoint presentation contains the updated information.]

In announcing the awards, TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read commented that it was the quality of the proposals and their emphasis on research that fills "knowledge gaps" in understanding the impact of traumatic eye injury that have made Research Area Directors in other DOD programs, such as the CRMRP, interested in funding such projects. Mr. Read stated that, "there were initially more excellent proposals than there were dollars to spend-12 submissions scored between 1.1 and 1.8 on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0" [with one being highest score] in the peer review process conducted by the American Institute of Biological Science (AIBS)." Vision Center of Excellence Director Donald Gagliano, M.D., who serves as the co-chair of the TATRC Programmatic Panel, echoed Mr. Readís remarks, noting that "vision researchers have certainly raised awareness among DOD agencies for both the quality and responsiveness of their grant submissions to the current needs of our military." Dr. Gagliano also gave a Powerpoint presentation about how the VCE, which is a joint DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program, is coordinating military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation, including development of a Congressionally-mandated Defense and Veterans Eye Injury Vision Registry (DVEIVR). The latter may identify the most significant future research needs.

From Monday through Wednesday within NAEVR Central, the TATRC and VCE representatives met with ARVO researchers interested in defense vision issues.

Since TATRC has combined its FY2009 and 2010 funding, there will be no program announcement issued in calendar year 2010. NAEVR is actively advocating with Congress for FY2011 PRMR-Vision funding of $10 million. In the interim, other DOD agencies are issuing Program Announcements that request grant submissions into visual and sensory research needs. Earlier this year, the Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP) requested grants for FY 2010 under three mechanisms—Applied Research and Advanced Technology, Clinical Trials, and Basic Research—that solicited research into "Treatment of Sensory System Traumatic Injury (Vision, Hearing and Balance)" and "Diagnosis and Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury." NAEVR understands that, shortly, a Program Announcement will issue for the FY2010 Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program.

Joint DOD/VA VCE Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., informs attendees about the Centerís activities to coordinate military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation
Joint DOD/VA VCE Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., informs attendees about the Centerís activities to coordinate military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation
Left to right: Colonel Robert Mazzoli, M.D., (retired), former U.S. Army ophthalmology consultant, joins TATRC representatives Robert Read, Marc Mitchell, Lt. Colonel Michael Mines, M.D., D.V.M., and Fran McVeigh, O.D.
Left to right: Colonel Robert Mazzoli, M.D., (retired), former U.S. Army ophthalmology consultant, joins TATRC representatives Robert Read, Marc Mitchell, Lt. Colonel Michael Mines, M.D., D.V.M., and Fran McVeigh, O.D.
Left to right: Vision Research Program award winners attending NAEVRís session included Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. University of Iowa), Stacy Choi, O.D., Ph.D. (New England College of Optometry), James Weiland, Ph.D., (Doheny Eye Institute/University of Southern California), and Gregory Schultz, Ph.D. (University of Florida)
Left to right: Vision Research Program award winners attending NAEVRís session included Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. University of Iowa), Stacy Choi, O.D., Ph.D. (New England College of Optometry), James Weiland, Ph.D., (Doheny Eye Institute/University of Southern California), and Gregory Schultz, Ph.D. (University of Florida)
From Monday through Wednesday, TATRC representatives met with interested researchers in NAEVR Central. Left to right: Robert Read, Dr. Fran McVeigh, and Marc Mitchell with Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham).
From Monday through Wednesday, TATRC representatives met with interested researchers in NAEVR Central. Left to right: Robert Read, Dr. Fran McVeigh, and Marc Mitchell with Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham).
NAEVRís David Epstein with VRP awardee Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee)
NAEVRís David Epstein with VRP awardee Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee)
Mr. Read with Michael Steinmetz, Ph.D. from the National Eye Institute (NEI), who served on the TATRC Programmatic Panel
Mr. Read with Michael Steinmetz, Ph.D. from the National Eye Institute (NEI), who served on the TATRC Programmatic Panel