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Emerging Vision Scientists Educate, Advocate on Capitol Hill About Their Research to Reduce the Burden of Eye Disease

A video about the Emerging Vision Scientists Capitol Hill Reception is available here.

The first-ever class of 21 Emerging Vision Scientists to participate in the AEVR and NAEVR events (see names in box below) reflecting the breadth of vision research
The first-ever class of 21 Emerging Vision Scientists to participate in the AEVR and NAEVR events (see names in box below) reflecting the breadth of vision research
Built around recognition of World Sight Day 2015, on October 7 AEVR’s Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative hosted its first-ever Emerging Vision Scientists Day on Capitol Hill, which was funded by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). These 21 young investigators from across the United States (see box below) who have not yet received their first investigator-initiated (R01) grant, attended a Congressional briefing—Burden of Uncorrected Refractive Errors in Vision, which was managed by AEVR for VISION 2020 USA—observed a rally to “Raise the (Budget) Caps,” hosted by the Nondefense Discretionary United coalition, and displayed posters of their research in an evening reception. On October 8 and under the auspices of NAEVR, they visited their Congressional delegation offices to request robust, sustained, and predictable NIH funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and beyond—adding their unique perspective from vision research.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addresses the crowd at the “Raise the Caps” rally hosted by the Nondefense Discretionary United coalition
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addresses the crowd at the “Raise the Caps” rally hosted by the Nondefense Discretionary United coalition
Held just one week after Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government with the start of FY2016, the Emerging Vision Scientists were on Capitol Hill at a busy time. On October 7, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing with NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. regarding how NIH could advance research with the Senate’s proposed $2 billion increase in funding, as well as address the challenges that young investigators currently face. Dr. Collins has stated in past appropriations hearings that it is the “worst time ever in the history of NIH for young investigators” On October 8, as the EVSs were engaged in Congressional delegation visits, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew his name as a candidate to replace retiring Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Both the educational and advocacy activities were built around one question: “How will the breakthrough research being conducted by these Emerging Vision Scientists prevent, delay, and treat vision disorders, which will grow to an annual U.S. cost burden of $717 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars by year 2050, as projected by Prevent Blindness in its 2014 study entitled The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems. In making their case, they also cited the results from the 2014 AEVR Survey entitled The Public’s Attitudes about the Health and Economic Impact of Vision Loss and Eye Disease—commissioned by Research!America and conducted by Zogby Analytics and sponsored by a grant from RPB—which found that a majority of Americans across racial and ethnic lines describe losing vision as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life.

AEVR EVS Reception
In addition to the poster display, AEVR Board President Peter McDonnell, M.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) hosted a short program at which National Eye Institute Deputy Director Belinda Seto, Ph.D. spoke, along with RPB President Brian Hofland, Ph.D. to the audience, which consisted of Members of Congress, their staff, and representatives from vision community organizations.

Left to right: Cong. Dave Loebsack, Ph.D. (D-IA) with NEI Deputy Director Belinda Seto, Ph.D. and AEVR Board President Peter McDonnell, M.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Left to right: Cong. Dave Loebsack, Ph.D. (D-IA) with NEI Deputy Director Belinda Seto, Ph.D. and AEVR Board President Peter McDonnell, M.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Left to right: AEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky with Cong. Don Young (R-AK)
Left to right: AEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky with Cong. Don Young (R-AK)
Dr. McDonnell (left) and Perre Smalls from the office of Cong. William Clay (D-MO) at the poster of Pinakin Davey, Ph.D., O.D. (Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry) which details his work on age-related macular degeneration(AMD)
Dr. McDonnell (left) and Perre Smalls from the office of Cong. William Clay (D-MO) at the poster of Pinakin Davey, Ph.D., O.D. (Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry) which details his work on age-related macular degeneration(AMD)
Staff from the office of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) at the poster of Rajesh Rao, M.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan) detailing his work on AMD and eye cancers
Staff from the office of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) at the poster of Rajesh Rao, M.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan) detailing his work on AMD and eye cancers
Jack Whalen III, Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California) with Dr. Seto and Dr. Hofland in front of his poster featuring research on novel biomaterials for ophthalmic applications
Jack Whalen, III, Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California) with Dr. Seto and Dr. Hofland in front of his poster featuring research on novel biomaterials for ophthalmic applications
Heather Chandler, Ph.D. (Ohio State University School of Optometry) discusses her featured research on cataracts
Heather Chandler, Ph.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry) discusses her featured research on cataracts

NAEVR Advocacy Day
Due to bipartisan concern in Congress about the future of young investigators, several Members arranged their schedules to meet with the Emerging Vision Scientists.

Shandiz Tehrani, M.D., Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University/Casey Eye Institute) with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who the previous day discussed the plight of young investigators at a Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
Shandiz Tehrani, M.D., Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University/Casey Eye Institute) with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who the previous day discussed the plight of young investigators at a Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
Daniel Peleaz, Ph.D. (University of Miami/Bascom Palmer Eye Institute) with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a co-Chair of the Congressional Vision Caucus
Daniel Peleaz, Ph.D. (University of Miami/Bascom Palmer Eye Institute) with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a co-Chair of the Congressional Vision Caucus
Cong. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) with Jason Comander, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary/Harvard School of Medicine). Cong. Kennedy played lacrosse in college with another EVS participant, Marc Levin, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Francisco).
Cong. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) with Jason Comander, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary/Harvard School of Medicine). Cong. Kennedy played lacrosse in college with another EVS participant, Marc Levin, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Francisco).
Kevin Chan, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh) with Cong. Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Kevin Chan, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh) with Cong. Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Left to right: Heather Chandler, O.D.  (Ohio State University College of Optometry) and Sumit Bhattacharya, Ph.D. (University of Toledo Medical Center) with LaTasha Lee, Ph.D., M.P.H. in the office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who also attended the AEVR reception
Left to right: Heather Chandler, O.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry) and Sumit Bhattacharya, Ph.D. (University of Toledo Medical Center) with LaTasha Lee, Ph.D., M.P.H. in the office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who also attended the AEVR reception
Reyna Martinez-De Luna (SUNY Upstate Medical University), left, and RPB President Brian Hofland, Ph.D. (right) with Morgan Brand in the office of Senator Charles Schumer
Reyna Martinez-De Luna, Ph.D. (SUNY Upstate Medical University), left, and RPB President Brian Hofland, Ph.D. (right) with Morgan Brand in the office of Senator
Charles Schumer
California was represented by seven Emerging Vision Scientists, who visited the offices of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as a delegation. From left: Marc  Levin, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Francisco), Eric Nudleman, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Diego), Stacy Pineles, M.D. (Jules Stein Eye Institute/UCLA), Rick Patrick in the  office of Senator Feinstein, Pinakin Davey, O.D., Ph.D. (Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry), Jack Whalen, III, Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California), William Tuten, O.D., Ph.D. (University of California/Berkeley) and Amir Kashani, M.D., Ph.D. (D (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California).
California was represented by seven Emerging Vision Scientists, who visited the offices of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as a delegation. From left: Marc Levin, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Francisco), Eric Nudleman, M.D., Ph.D. (Shiley Eye Institute/University of California/San Diego), Stacy Pineles, M.D. (Jules Stein Eye Institute/UCLA), Rick Patrick in the office of Senator Feinstein, Pinakin Davey, O.D., Ph.D. (Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry), Jack Whalen, III, Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California), William Tuten, O.D., Ph.D. (University of California/Berkeley) and Amir Kashani, M.D., Ph.D. (D (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California).
Martin-Paul Agbaga, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma)
Sumit Bhattacharya, Ph.D. (University of Toledo Medical Center)
Kevin Chan, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)
Heather Chandler, Ph.D. (Ohio State University College of Optometry)
Jason Comander, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary/Harvard School of Medicine)
Pinakin Davey, O.D., Ph.D. (Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry)
Amir Kashani, M.D., Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California)
Leo Kim, M.D., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary/Harvard School of Medicine)
Marc Levin, M.D., Ph.D.(University of California/San Francisco)
Reyna Martínez-De Luna, Ph.D.(SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Jason Miller, M.D., Ph.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan)
Eric Nudleman, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California/San Diego)
Daniel Pelaez, Ph.D. (University of Miami/ Bascom Palmer Eye Institute)
Stacy Pineles, M.D. (Jules Stein Eye Institute/UCLA)
Nicholas Port, Ph.D. (Indiana University School of Optometry)
Rajesh Rao, M.D. (Kellogg Eye Center/University of Michigan)
Shandiz Tehrani, M.D., Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University)
William Tuten, O.D., Ph.D. (University of California/Berkeley)
Kia Washington, M.D. (University of Pittsburgh)
Jack Whalen, III, Ph.D. (USC Eye Institute/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California)
Robert Wojciechowski, O.D., Ph.D. (Wilmer Eye Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)