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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2005
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR President Dr. Stephen Ryan Testifies Before Congress During Week of Uprecedented Congressional Exposure to Eye and Vision Research

(Washington, DC) Today, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) President Dr. Stephen Ryan testified at the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee's "Public Witness" hearing in support of increased funding in the federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On behalf of the vision research community, Dr. Ryan requested FY2006 NEI funding at $711 million and NIH funding at $30 billion, a six percent increase over FY2005 for each. The President's FY2006 budget proposes NEI and NIH funding increases at less than one percent over FY2005.

Ryan stated that, "Although NAEVR recognizes that Congress faces tremendous challenges at home and abroad, we join the community of support for medical research in requesting NIH funding at $30 billion to maintain the momentum of discovery. We commend NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni for his leadership in establishing priorities and eliminating roadblocks to collaborative research."

NAEVR also requested that Congress make this nation's vision health a top priority by funding the NEI at $711 million, an amount necessary to advance the breakthroughs from NEI's basic and clinical research that result in treatments to prevent eye disease and restore vision. For example, Ryan identified how NEI-funded research into age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has ultimately resulted in the approval of a drug therapy to treat AMD, as well as the recent discovery of a gene associated with a person's risk for developing the condition. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

Ryan's testimony capped off a week of unprecedented Congressional exposure to eye and vision research issues, which included:

  • NAEVR visits to the offices of key House and Senate Appropriators and the leaders of the Biomedical Research Caucus

  • An April 20 briefing on Glaucoma Detection and Treatment

  • April 14 testimony by Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) President Dr. Gary Abrams supporting NIH/NEI funding increases

Stephen Ryan, M.D., is President of the Doheny Eye Institute and the Grace and Emery Beardsley Professor of Ophthalmology. Ryan served as the Chair of the University of Southern California (USC) Department of Ophthalmology from 1974 to 1995. He served as Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC from 1991 to 2004 and as Senior Vice President of USC from 1993 to 2004.

NAEVR is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of nearly 50 professional, consumer and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR's goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI) and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org .