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ARVO Members Among First to Educate Congress about ARRA-Funded Research

Cong. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, center) with Shigeru Kinoshita M.D., Ph.D. (Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine/Japan, left) and ARVO President Nicholas Delamere, Ph.D.  (University of Arizona, right)
Cong. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, center) with Shigeru Kinoshita M.D., Ph.D. (Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine/Japan, left) and ARVO President Nicholas Delamere, Ph.D. (University of Arizona, right)
In an October 30 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill organized by NAEVR, the ARVO Board of Trustees was joined by local ARVO members as one of the first communities to educate Members of Congress and their staffs about the impact of research funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The timing was propitious, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had just released its initial report on how the $10.4 billion in stimulus funding has been spent, which had piqued Hill interest. As a result, ARVO members provided a useful context to the top line NIH numbers by describing the vision research awards that they and their institutions received from the $175 million in National Eye Institute (NEI) stimulus funding. Three of the participating researchers—incoming ARVO President J. Mark Petrash, Ph.D., Shukti Chakravarti, Ph.D., and Justine Smith, Ph.D.— were direct recipients of ARRA-related NEI awards.

In addition to describing their work and sharing a one-page fact sheet of examples of ARRA-supported NEI research that addresses basic, translational, epidemiologic, and comparative effectiveness research, participants also stressed economic impact, in terms of employees retained or hired. Since healthcare reform legislation is also a current Congressional priority, participants commented on the potential for research that prevents blindness and restores vision to reduce costs, especially to the Medicare system, while increasing productivity and improving quality of life.


Participants on their way to the Senate included: Front Row: Dr. Kinoshita; Major General (Ret) Gale Pollock, C.R.N.A. (University of Pittsburgh Eye Center); Immediate-Past ARVO President Todd Margolis, M.D., Ph.D. (F.I. Proctor Foundation/University of California-San Francisco); and Dr. Delamere Back Row: David Williams, Ph.D. (University of Rochester); David Hunter, M.D., Ph.D. (Children's Hospital Boston); and ARVO Advocacy Committee member Peng Khaw, M.D., Ph.D. (Moorfields Eye Hospital/United Kingdom)

Participants on their way to the House included: Front Row: Robert Miller, M.D. (University of Minnesota); ARVO Executive Vice President Sally Atherton, Ph.D. (Medical College of Georgia); and Jeffrey Boatright, Ph.D. (Emory University); Back Row: Justine Smith, Ph.D. (Casey Eye Institute/University of Oregon); and Lori Grover, O.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University)

 

The ARRA discussion was a prelude to two important requests: that Congress finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 NIH funding at the higher House bill level of 3.1 percent (3.6 percent for NEI), and that Congress fund NIH at a robust, predictable, and sustained level in FY2011, especially since stimulus funding will expire in FY2010. In that regard, the ARVO advocates emphasized that in both FY2009 and FY2010, NIH is supporting research at a level of $37 billion (base appropriations, plus half of the stimulus).

ARVO was pleased to engage several international Trustees as participants. In addition to describing research being conducted in other countries, they emphasized the unique nature and important global leadership role of the NIH biomedical enterprise.

Jacob Pe’er, M.D. (Hadassah-Hebrew University/Israel), Incoming ARVO President/ARVO Advocacy Committee Chair J. Mark Petrash, Ph.D. (Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute/University of Colorado) with Sally Mayes, office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Jacob Pe’er, M.D. (Hadassah-Hebrew University/Israel), Incoming ARVO President/ARVO Advocacy Committee Chair J. Mark Petrash, Ph.D. (Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute/University of Colorado) with Sally Mayes, office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), who serves on the Senate Aging Committee. Dr. Petrash noted that his ARRA-funded Challenge Grant will bring in at least $1 million in funding to UC
Dr. Margolis and Dr. Khaw with Deborah Trautman, Ph.D, R.N, office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Dr. Margolis and Dr. Khaw with Deborah Trautman, Ph.D, R.N, office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Since the Speaker introduced the leadership’s healthcare reform bill the previous day, Dr. Trautman was interested in how vision research can help to cut healthcare costs.
Dr. Hunter with Heather Gasper from the office of Cong. Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Dr. Hunter with Heather Gasper from the office of Cong. Michael Capuano (D-MA), a strong supporter of defense-related vision research
Andras Komaromy, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania) with Liz King, office of Cong. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Andras Komaromy, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania) with Liz King, office of Cong. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who serves on the Appropriations Committee
John Penn, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt Eye Institute, right), with Cara Dalmolin, Legislative Director for Cong. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
John Penn, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt Eye Institute, right), with Cara Dalmolin, Legislative Director for Cong. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee with oversight jurisdiction over the NIH
ARVO Advocacy Committee member Dr. Grover discusses the Congressional requests with  NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
ARVO Advocacy Committee member Dr. Grover discusses the Congressional requests with NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky