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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR URGES CONGRESS TO INCREASE FY2008 NIH AND NEI FUNDING BY 6.7 PERCENT IN WRITTEN COMMENTS FILED WITH THE HOUSE AND SENATE

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) announced that it had submitted written testimony to the hearing files of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittees of both the House and Senate, which held hearings on March 6 and March 19, respectively. NAEVRís testimony urged Congress to fund the NIH and NEI at $31 billion and $711 million, respectively, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 appropriations, reflecting a 6.7 percent increase over FY2007. This is a significantly higher level than that in the Presidentís proposed FY2008 budget, which would fund NIH at $28.7 billion and NEI at $668 million.

"NEIís research responds to the NIHís major health challenges, as set forth by NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, including an aging population, health disparities, the shift from acute to chronic disease, and the co-morbid conditions associated with chronic diseases, such as diabetes," wrote NAEVR. The testimony also noted that, in describing the new healthcare research and clinical practice paradigm for the 21st century-specifically one that is preemptive, predictive, preventive, and personalized, Dr. Zerhouni frequently cites NEI research as tangible examples, such as:

  • The collaborative Human Genome Project/NEI discovery of gene variants associated with an individualís risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the nationís leading cause of blindness.


  • NEIís Age-Related Eye Disease Study, now in its second phase, which is following up on initial findings that high levels of dietary zinc and antioxidant vitamins are effective in reducing vision loss in people at high risk for developing advanced AMD.


  • NEIís trans-Institute research that has resulted in the first generation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved ophthalmic drugs to inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth in the ďwetĒ form of AMD, thereby stabilizing vision loss. The NEI is currently evaluating these drugs for treatment of macular edema associated with diabetic retinopathy through its Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network.

NAEVR cautioned, however, that without adequate funding, the NEI will not be able to follow up on these breakthroughs, resulting in "missed opportunities" to capitalize on the prior investment in research.

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