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Private Funding Foundations Advocate for Increased NEI Funding

RPB’s Brian Hofland, Ph.D. with Dana Miller, from the office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee
RPB’s Brian Hofland, Ph.D. with Dana Miller, from the office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee
On March 25, NAEVR hosted an Advocacy Day for private foundations which had met the previous day under the auspices of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to discuss vision research funding challenges, especially due to lack of growth in the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) budget. In addition to describing their important role in the local economy, the participants also noted their support of researchers at academic institutions throughout the country-often researchers in the early stage of their careers. They echoed NAEVR’s request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of at least $32 billion and NEI funding of $730 million.

After the Congressional office visits, RPB’s President Brian F. Hofland, Ph.D. and Director of Communications Matthew Levine each reflected on the engagement of private foundations in vision research funding advocacy:
“The U.S. vision research community has sustained an effort, for decades, to prevent vision loss and restore sight and we are seeing some incredible breakthroughs with stem cell research, gene therapy, and regeneration approaches. Federal funding of vision research far exceeds all private foundation support combined. A recent convening of vision research funders-hosted and organized by RPB-established increasing federal funding of vision research through advocacy as a top priority for collective action on the part of the private foundations. For the sake of everyone confronting vision loss, we literally cannot afford to shortchange funding for eye research.” -Brian F. Hofland, Ph.D., RPB President

“I have had Type 1 diabetes for 50 years. I have worked hard to maintain a good balance in my health, and so far I am okay. But those words ‘so far’ loom large. As a diabetic I am at higher risk for diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, glaucoma, corneal complications and dry eye. Insulin is not a cure, just as eye drops to treat glaucoma are not a cure. There are no guarantees. The closest we can come to a guarantee of good health is to ensure that the extraordinary scientists who will create cures and better treatments for our conditions are adequately funded.” --Matthew Levine, Director of Communications, RPB
From left: RPB’s Matt Levine, Lauren Jee, from the office of Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Michael Crair, Ph.D. from the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation and the Yale University School of Medicine
From left: RPB’s Matt Levine, Lauren Jee, from the office of Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Michael Crair, Ph.D. from the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation and the Yale University School of Medicine
From left: Kelsey Manweiler, office of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who serves on the Senate LHHS appropriations subcommittee, with Torrey DeKeyser, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama
From left: Kelsey Manweiler, office of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who serves on the Senate LHHS appropriations subcommittee, with Torrey DeKeyser, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama
Tom Brunner, Glaucoma Research Foundation, with Erin Katzelnick-Wise, from the office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee with NIH oversight
Tom Brunner, Glaucoma Research Foundation, with Erin Katzelnick-Wise, from the office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee with NIH oversight
From left: Cong. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, with Michael Buckley, BrightFocus Foundation. Cong. Van Hollen recently announced his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Barbara Mikulski’s retirement
From left: Cong. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, with Michael Buckley, BrightFocus Foundation. Cong. Van Hollen recently announced his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Barbara Mikulski’s retirement.

This event follows a February 6 Advocacy Day in which NAEVR collaborated with the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) to include eight young researchers in advocacy with its 13 Annual Meeting Program Committee participants.