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DOD Funds Vision Research at $8.7 M in FY2011

Legislative Update
August 8, 2011

With pre-proposal submissions due by September 15, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) released on August 5 links to Grants.gov for $8.7 M in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 funding through its Vision Research Program (VRP), which is available to all researchers, including international investigators. TATRC is funding two programs:

  • Investigator-Initiated Research Awards, with estimated total program funding of $7 M and awards capped at $1 M each.
  • Hypothesis Development Awards, with estimated total program funding of $1.7 M and awards capped at $250,000 each.
The awards must address DOD-identified gaps in defense-related vision research such as:
  • Inadequate vision rehabilitation strategies and quality of life measures.
  • Inadequate vision restoration.
  • Inadequate mitigation and treatment of traumatic injuries, war-related injuries, and diseases to the ocular structures and the visual system.
  • Inadequate mitigation and treatment of visual dysfunction associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Inadequate ocular and visual systems diagnostic capabilities and assessment strategies.
  • Inadequate war fighter vision readiness and enhancement related to refractive surgery.
In the combined FY2009/2010 cycle, TATRC funded twelve researchers for a total of $11 million. The VRP is not included in the Pentagon budget and must be requested each year. NAEVR has worked with bipartisan Members in the House and Senate to include this line item in defense appropriations, and is currently doing so regarding FY2012 spending bills. NAEVR will continue to stress the military relevance of this research in the tight budget environment. In that regard, when issuing the recent announcement, TATRC Director Colonel Karl Friedl, Ph.D. commented that, “In this time of closely examining the federal budget, this is a relatively small investment that could produce immense future savings, not only in healthcare costs but through maintaining military personnel as active, productive members of our nation’s fighting force and workforce.”

NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky has noted that the $8.7 million in defense vision research funding balances the $6.2 million, or one percent cut, in the FY2011 NEI budget.