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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2013
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR TO SENATE: IMPROVE UPON THE PRESIDENT’S FY2014 BUDGET REQUEST FOR THE NEI, WHICH HAS NO GROWTH AND JEOPARDIZES VISION RESEARCH

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written testimony to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding. In requesting NIH funding at $32 billion and NEI funding at $730 million, NAEVR urged the Senate to improve upon President Obama’s budget proposal to fund NIH at $31 billion, or a $471 million (1.5 percent) increase over the FY2012 funding level of $30.6 billion (net of transfers) and NEI at $699 million, or a $2.1 million (0.3 percent) cut from the FY2012 funding level of $701.3 million (net of transfers). The NEI cut is primarily driven by an $8.9 million reduction due to conclusion of the NEI-sponsored Ocular Complications of AIDS (SOCA) studies, funded by NIH’s Office of AIDS Research.

In calling on the Senate to ensure NEI budget growth so that it can pursue its goal of saving and restoring vision, NAEVR emphasized that the President’s cut results in a reduction of 35 competing grants,following the sequester’s $36 million cut in FY2013 which translates into an estimated 90 fewer grants-any one of which may hold the promise to save or restore vision. NAEVR stressed that the proposed FY2014 NEI funding of $699 million falls $8 million below the NEI’s base FY2010 level of $707 million, its highest ever. Additionally, NAEVR:

  • Cited the need for growth in NEI’s budget so that it can pursue “audacious goals” in vision research, referring to the Institute’s novel planning initiative to identify long-term, ten-year goals in vision research, such as restoring light-sensitivity to the blind through gene-based therapies and visual prosthetics, pinpoint correction of defective genes, and growing healthy tissue from stem cells for ocular tissue transplants.

  • Acknowledged that the Senate passed S. Res. 209 in 2009 which designated 2010-2020 as The Decade of Vision, and called upon appropriators to ensure NEI is adequately funded to meet the decade’s vision challenges, including an aging population at greatest risk for eye disease, a disproportionate incidence of eye disease in African American and Hispanic populations, and vision loss from chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
NAEVR had previously requested FY2014 NIH funding at $32 billion and NEI funding at $730 million in verbal testimony presented at a March 13 Public Witness hearing held by the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which was held before the President’s budget issued on April 10.

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.