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NAEVR Hosts Key DOD Representatives in Standing Room-Only Session on Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities at the ARVO Annual Meeting

Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) Senior Project Officer Robert Read and Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D.
Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) Senior Project Officer Robert Read and Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D.
On May 4 at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, NAEVR hosted key Department of Defense (DOD) representatives who will be engaged in the management of defense-related vision research grants associated with the first-ever dedicated line item for Peer Reviewed Research-Vision, which was contained in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Defense appropriations and funded at $4 million. The speakers addressed a standing room-only audience.

Robert Read, Senior Project Officer at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), the agency within DOD that is managing research funded by the FY2009 appropriation, spoke about TATRC’s plans to release a Program Announcement by mid-May seeking research proposals. He offered up multiple examples of previous defense-related vision research which have been managed by TATRC (which includes direct Congressional earmarks to academic Institutions) and by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), a "sister" DOD agency that previously managed vision research when it was one of 21 areas of research eligible for funding within the $50 million pool of peer reviewed funds within CDMRP’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). These examples are contained in the joint TATRC/CDMRP publication entitled Vision Research Portfolio.

Mr. Read noted that, although the impending Program Announcement would provide specific details about research requests for FY2009 funding, TATRC’s priorities for defense-related vision research have typically been in the following areas:

  • Improved treatments for traumatic and war related injuries and diseases to ocular structures and the vision system.
  • Strategies for diagnosis, treatment, and mitigation of visual dysfunction associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and war related injuries.
  • Advanced technologies to restore vision.
  • Epidemiological studies to understand mechanisms of injury and evaluate functional outcomes of strategies used to treat ocular and visual system injury.
  • Improved ocular diagnostic capabilities, including imaging, electrodiagnostics, and biomarkers.
  • Enhanced vision rehabilitation strategies.
Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., Director of the Vision Center of Excellence (VCE), also spoke noting that, although the VCE will not be funding research, the Military Eye Trauma Injury Registry it is charged with developing will assist in identifying the DOD’s vision-related research needs in the future. Dr. Gagliano serves on the TATRC Program Review Panel that has developed the impending Program Announcement and will be engaged through the proposal review process. NAEVR’s James Jorkasky and David Epstein, as well as ARVO’s Joanne Angle, also serve as “stakeholder” representatives on the TATRC Program Review Panel.

NAEVR wishes to thank both Mr. Read and Dr. Gagliano, who made themselves available throughout the remainder of the day to speak generally with researchers about DOD needs in the vision space.

Note that NAEVR is working with defense-related vision research champions in the House and Senate to maintain the Peer Reviewed Research-Vision dedicated line item in FY2010 Defense appropriations and increase its funding to $10 million. NAEVR is also supporting full funding of the VCE in FY2010 at $6.8 million.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Mines, M.D., D.V.M., who serves on the TATRC Program Review Panel, with Robert Read
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Mines, M.D., D.V.M., who serves on the TATRC Program Review Panel, with Robert Read
Incoming ARVO President Nicholas Delamere and Dr. Gagliano
ARVO President Nicholas Delamere
and Dr. Gagliano
Dr. Gagliano with Neal Peachey, Ph.D. (Cole Eye Institute/Cleveland Clinic Foundation). Dr. Peachey also serves as Assistant Chief of Staff-Research at the Cleveland Wade Park Veterans Administration Hospital.
Dr. Gagliano with Neal Peachey, Ph.D. (Cole Eye Institute/Cleveland Clinic Foundation). Dr. Peachey also serves as Assistant Chief of Staff-Research at the Cleveland Wade Park Veterans Administration Hospital.
Left to right: Mark Kupersmith, M.D. (Roosevelt Hospital and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary), Lori Grover, O.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins) and Dr. Gagliano. Dr. Kupersmith is the Principal Investigator for the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) new Neuro-ophthalmology Research Disease Investigator Consortium (NORDIC), which will study visual dysfunction associated with increased intracranial pressure and could potentially coordinate with DOD-funded Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research.
Left to right: Mark Kupersmith, M.D. (Roosevelt Hospital and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary), Lori Grover, O.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins) and Dr. Gagliano. Dr. Kupersmith is the Principal Investigator for the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) new Neuro-Ophthalmology Research Disease Investigator Consortium (NORDIC), which will study visual dysfunction associated with increased intracranial pressure and could potentially coordinate with DOD-funded Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research.