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DOD Announces Plan to Issue a Program Announcement in the May/June Timeframe per FY2011 Funding for its Vision Research Program

TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read describes the anticipated FY2011 Program Announcement
TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read describes the anticipated FY2011 Program Announcement
At a Monday, May 2, session held by NAEVR at the 2011 ARVO Annual Meeting, the Department of Defense’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) announced that it would shortly issue a Program Announcement seeking grant proposals for its Vision Research Program (VRP). The VRP is funded by the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision (PRMR-Vision) line item in defense appropriations. In the final Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded the government through the end of FY2011, PRMR-Vision was funded at $4 million.

In making this announcement, TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read noted that the amount of funding available for researchers could be greater than the FY2011 $4 million line item, as it was in the FY2009/2010 cycle. Although Congress appropriated $4 million and $3.75 million in FY2009 and FY2010, respectively, for PRMR-Vision, it was increased by another $4.1 million transferred over from TATRC’s “sister” agency within the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC), the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medical Research Program (CRMRP). As a result, a total of $11 million was awarded to twelve researchers—many of whom were in the audience—in the FY2009/2010 cycle.

Mr. Read identified current DOD-identified vision research gaps, some or all of which may appear in the Program Announcment. These include:

  • diagnosis, treatment, and mitigation of TBI-related visual dysfunction
  • treatments for traumatic injuries (e.g., blasts, burns)
  • vision restoration
  • epidemiological studies on sight-injured patients
  • ocular diagnostics
  • vision rehabilitation strategies
  • inadequate computational models of battlefield injuries
  • vision care education/training

The joint DOD/Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) Director Donald Gagliano, M.D., who serves as the co-chair of the TATRC Programmatic Panel, emphasized how the quality of the past submissions from vision researchers has caught the attention of various funding entities within the DOD. “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.” The VCE, which does not have extramural research funding, is coordinating military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation, including development of a Congressionally-mandated Defense and Veterans Eye Injury Registry (DVEIR). The latter may identify the most significant future research needs.

From Monday through Wednesday within NAEVR Central, Mr. Read and Colonel Gagliano met with ARVO researchers interested in defense vision issues.

Contact NAEVR’s David Epstein at depstein@eyeresearch.org to be added to the “DOD Interest Email List” and notified when the TATRC/VRP Program Announcement issues.

Joint DOD/VA VCE Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., informs attendees about the Center’s activities to coordinate military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation
Joint DOD/VA VCE Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D., informs attendees about the Center’s activities to coordinate military vision care from diagnosis through rehabilitation
Center:  Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center), a VRP awardee who is researching the impact of blast injuries
Center: Tonia Rex, Ph.D. (University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center), a VRP awardee who is researching the impact of blast injuries
Thomas Yorio, Ph.D., FARVO (University of North Texas Health Science Center), a VRP awardee researching traumatic injury to the retina, optic nerve, and visual centers of the brain
Right: Thomas Yorio, Ph.D., FARVO (University of North Texas Health Science Center), a CSI recipient researching traumatic injury to the retina, optic nerve, and visual centers of the brain
Felix Barker, II, O.D., FAAO, the VCE’s Acting Assistant Director for Research
Center: Felix Barker, II, O.D., FAAO, the VCE’s Acting Assistant Director for Research
Left to right: Robert Read, Joan Stelmack, O.D. (Hines VA Hospital) and Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D., FARVO (University of Iowa), a VRP awardee who is researching the diagnosis of visual dysfunction associated with TBI
Left to right: Robert Read, Joan Stelmack, O.D. (Hines VA Hospital) and Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D., FARVO (University of Iowa), a VRP awardee who is researching the diagnosis of visual dysfunction associated with TBI