The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Schepens Eye Research Institute, both Harvard Medical School affiliates, have decided to merge, creating the largest private eye-research organization in the world. After years of on-again, off-again discussions about joining forces, the two institutions concluded that a merger would put them both in a better position to win research funding from the government and industry. "Everyone is nervous about funding around the country," said Joan Miller, MD, chief of ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and chair of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "This will make us a much more powerful research group." Schepens will become a subsidiary of Mass. Eye and Ear on June 30 but will retain its name and location on Staniford Street, several blocks from Mass. Eye and Ear on Charles Street in Boston. The boards of both institutions unanimously approved the deal this week.