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NAEVR and DOD Describe Defense-related Vision Research Funding Opportunities at the Schepens Fourth Military Vision Symposium

Left to right: Colonel Ray Santullo, O.D., Optometry Consultant to the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, and NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
Left to right: Colonel Ray Santullo, O.D., Optometry Consultant to the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, and NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky and Advocacy Manager David Epstein participated in the Schepens Eye Research Institute’s (SERI) Fourth Military Vision Symposium on Ocular and Brain Injury, held in Boston. Jorkasky, who detailed NAEVR’s past and current efforts to maintain the dedicated Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision (PRMR-Vision) line item in Defense appropriations bills, was joined by representatives of the Department of Defense’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), which manages the line item. TATRC Vision Portfolio Manager Robert Read identified the twelve researchers who had received a total of $11 million in awards and described how this final funding total reflects a combination of Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and 2010 Congressional appropriations of $4 million and $3.75 million, respectively, from the PRMR-Vision line item in defense funding, plus $4.1 million from the larger Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program, minus administrative costs. Several of the twelve awardees attended the meeting, and they reflect both domestic and international ophthalmic and optometric researchers.

Jorkasky noted that, although the House and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittees have marked up bills, House report language was not yet available to determine the level of FY2011 PRMR-Vision funding, as the House is the lead chamber for this funding. NAEVR will continue to report on the status of funding and educate about research opportunities through NAEVR and ARVO communications portals.

"David and I were honored to attend this meeting, at which we interacted with the ophthalmic and optometric consultants to the various branches of the military with whom we serve on the TATRC Programmatic Committee. We also had an opportunity to speak with many of the investigators and hear their formal scientific presentations about research which is addressing immediate military needs."

Vision research champion Cong. Michael Capuano (D-MA), in whose district SERI is located, spoke and offered his gratitude to the investigators who are on the front lines of research that addresses immediate battlefield needs.

Since devices to diagnose and treat visual injuries require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, the meeting featured Malvina Eydelman, M.D. of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Dr. Eydelman, who directs CDRH’s Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices, discussed the contents of a draft FDA guidance document for Investigational Device Exemptions (IDEs) for artificial vision devices. She also described ongoing FDA-sponsored research at its White Oak, Maryland-based campus into visual function and device performance testing. “One of FDA’s goals is to facilitate the adoption of innovations to address unmet needs, and artificial vision devices are such an innovation,” said Dr. Eydelman.

Second left: Colonel Robert Mazzoli, M.D., (retired), former Ophthalmology Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General, with TATRC representatives (from left) Robert Read, Marc Mitchell, Colonel Michael Mines, M.D., D.V.M., and Francis McVeigh, O.D.

Left to right: Joint DOD/Veterans Affairs (VA) Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) Director Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. with Colonel Janet Harris, R.N., Director, US Army Clinical and Rehabilitation Research. Col. Harris was instrumental in the transfer of an additional $4.1 million in Army/TBI funding into TATRC’s Vision Research Program for awardees.

Left to right: Cong. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Kenneth Fischer, SERI’s President and Chief Operating Officer

Malvina Eydelman, M.D., Director of the FDA’s Division of Ophthalmology, Neurology and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices, speaks about the regulation of artificial vision devices

Left to right: Vision Research Program award winner Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa) with Vittorio Porciatti, DSc. (Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/University of Miami)

Left to right: Vision Research Program award winners Nathan Doble, Ph.D. and Stacey Choi, O.D., Ph.D. (New England College of Optometry) with NAEVR Advocacy Manager David Epstein