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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2009
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR URGES PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA TO INCLUDE $10 BILLION IN ECONOMIC STIMULUS TO RESTORE NIH PURCHASING POWER AND LEAD TO NIH BUDGET DOUBLING

(Washington, D.C.) Today, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) President Stephen J. Ryan, M.D. (Doheny Eye Institute) urged President-Elect Barack Obama to include $10 billion in an economic stimulus to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) purchasing power and to serve as a down-payment for the doubling of the NIH budget over the next ten years. NAEVR cited immediate uses of these funds to support existing research programs, especially "bridge funding" for researchers to continue their work; to support high-risk, high-reward “transformative” research that tackles the most significant disease challenges; and to fund new investigators and innovators.

NAEVR cited a December 12 letter from Research!America to President-Elect Obama in which it estimated that at least $8.6 billion is needed to restore the NIH purchasing power lost over the past six funding cycles (reflecting loss due to biomedical inflation and assuming a modest 3 percent annual increase in the past six cycles). That amount, coupled with proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 NIH funding not yet finalized, would result in a level of $10 billion.

Dr. Ryan expressed his appreciation for Mr. Obama’s recognition pre- and post-election about the role that science, research, and technology can serve in rebuilding the American economy and ensuring its global competitiveness. Since NAEVR serves as the "Friends of the National Eye Institute (NEI)," Dr. Ryan also lauded the work of the NEI, which directs NIH vision research, especially in the area of ocular genetics, since one-quarter of all genes discovered to date are associated with eye disease.

Dr. Ryan acknowledged that, in 2009, the NEI will celebrate its 40th anniversary and that NAEVR would seek a Congressional Resolution to designate 2010-2020 as the Decade of Vision. In closing, he stated that, "We hope that economic stimulus, coupled with a pathway to NIH budget doubling, can enable the NIH/NEI to minimize, if not eradicate, blinding eye disease in the next decade."

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.