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NAEVR Acknowledges VRPís Robert Read, Who Identifies FY2017 Funding Opportunities

CDMRP Vision Program Manager Robert Read receives a plaque of recognition from NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
CDMRP Vision Program Manager Robert Read receives a plaque of recognition from NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
NAEVRís May 8 Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities session had an immediacy unlike past years, since the vision community was awaiting posting of the program Announcement for the $15 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Vision Research Program (VRP) funding on the Department of Defenseís (DOD) Congressionally-directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Web site. The $15 million reflects a $5 million increase over the $10 million appropriated in each of fiscal years 2013-2016.

Prior to CDMRP Vision Program Manager Robert Read speaking about FY2017 plans, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky presented him with a plaque recognizing his dedication to defense-related vision trauma research. Mr. Read has managed the VRP since it was created by Congress in FY2009 as a result of NAEVR advocacy.

Mr. Read announced to participants that, through the FY2015/2016 funding cycle, the VRP has issued 79 awards totaling $68 million. In March, the CDMRP issued a preliminary Announcement for FY2017, noting two types of funding mechanisms planned: Clinical Trial Awards (CTA), with funding up to $5.25 million total of direct and indirect costs, and Technology/Therapeutic Development Awards (TTDA), with funding up to $2.1 million total of direct and indirect costs. Preproposals are due by July 12, 2017, and full applications are due by October 25, 2017. This information was confirmed in the final program Announcement, which was released on May 15.

Mr. Read also spoke about other DOD funding opportunities, including the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and the Joint Warfighter program. In discussion afterward, Mr. Jorkasky reminded attendees that DOD funding opportunities are available to domestic and international researchers, and that those who navigate the VRP are more likely to apply for funding from other DOD programs with key words such as sensory and rehabilitation and diseases with a visual component.

Past VRP awardees spoke about their experiences in successfully navigating the VRP grant process in previous funding cycles. This included Michael Iuvone, Ph.D. (Emory University), who is studying traumatic vision loss and Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School), who is developing a drug-delivering contact lens. In March 2016, Dr. Ciolino spoke at an AEVR Congressional Briefing about his work.

Mr. Read and colleague Marc Mitchell met one-on-one with researchers at a dedicated CDMRP booth from Monday through Wednesday. NAEVR wishes to thank them for their participation and their commitment to the soldiers who have experienced battlefield eye injuries.

From left:  Michael Iuvone, Ph.D. (Emory University), Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School) and James Jorkasky. Drs. Iuvone and Ciolino have received funding from the VRP.
From left: Michael Iuvone, Ph.D. (Emory University), Joseph Ciolino, M.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School) and James Jorkasky. Drs. Iuvone and Ciolino have received funding
from the VRP.
Robert Read speaks with VRP grantee Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa)
Robert Read speaks with VRP grantee Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa), who spoke in 2011 about his DOD-funded research at an AEVR Congressional Briefing
Jack Whalen, Ph.D. (USC Roski Eye Institute) with NAEVR’s Director of Government Relations David Epstein. Dr. Whalen works on a research team that has received VRP funding for their work on an ocular patch.
Jack Whalen, Ph.D. (USC Roski Eye Institute) with NAEVRís Director of Government Relations David Epstein. Dr. Whalen works on a research team that has received VRP funding for their work on an ocular patch which was featured at a 2014 AEVR Congressional Briefing.
The impending release of the FY2017 Program Announcement drew a large crowd
The impending release of the FY2017 Program Announcement drew a large crowd

Prior to the May 8 defense funding session, on May 7 ARVO held a special Eye and Vision Trauma Session which discussed the latest developments in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries resulting from battlefield trauma. Hosted by former Joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence Director Donald Gagliano, M.D., the session featured a panel of researchers, a number of whom have received research funding from the DOD. ARVO has held special sessions on Vison and Traumatic Brain Injury at previous ARVO Annual Meetings.