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February 8, 2010
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director


(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written testimony to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittees of the Senate and House supporting Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding at $35 billion. This level, which reflects net NIH funding in FY2009 and FY2010 due to increased "regular" and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) appropriations, is $3 billion more than proposed by President Obama and $4 billion more than baseline FY2010 NIH funding, absent ARRA.

NAEVR noted that $35 billion in FY2011 NIH funding would translate into a National Eye Institute (NEI) funding level of $794.5 million. NAEVR urged that, if Congress cannot fund NIH/NEI at those levels, it at least improve upon the Presidentís proposed 2.5 percent increase in NEI funding such that it matches the 3.2 percent inflation rate, thereby avoiding further erosion in purchasing power which had already declined by 18 percent in the FY2003-2008 timeframe. NAEVR commented that:

"In 2009, Congress spoke volumes in passing S. Res 209 and H. Res, 366, which acknowledged NEIís 40th anniversary and designated 2010-2020 as The Decade of Vision, in which the majority of 78 million Baby Boomers will turn 65 years of age and face greatest risk of aging eye disease. This is not the time for a less-than-inflationary increase that nets a loss in the NEIís purchasing power, especially since its research is resulting in treatments and therapies that save vision and restore sight, which can reduce healthcare costs, maintain productivity, ensure independence, and enhance quality of life."

The testimony identified specific examples of research funded by both increased "regular" and ARRA appropriations and highlighted the potential impact of each in terms of addressing the nationís major vision challenges—an aging population, the disproportionate incidence of eye disease in fast-growing minority populations, and the visual impact of chronic disease, such as diabetes. NAEVR also emphasized that NEIís portfolio of basic, translational, epidemiological, and comparative effectiveness research addresses NIHís top five priorities, as identified by Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: genomics; translational research; comparative effectiveness; global health; and empowering the biomedical enterprise. 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