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July 1, 2013
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director


(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) announced that its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative is hosting a Congressional Briefing entitled Determining the Genetic Basis of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by Using “Big Data,” to be held Thursday, September 19, 2013, from 12 Noon – 1:15 pm in House Rayburn B-369. RSVP to Dina Beaumont at 202-530-4672 or

The briefing, being held during International AMD Awareness Week 2013, features speaker Goncalo Abecasis, D. Phil., the Felix E. Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Dr. Abecasis, whose research focuses on the development of statistical tools for the identification and study of genetic variants in human disease, was recognized in 2012 by Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch for having 12 of the most cited publications of the year, putting him in the company of “the thought leaders of today…individuals whose research is blazing new frontiers and shaping tomorrow’s world.”

Dr. Abecasis will speak about the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) International AMD Gene Consortium and how it is using “Big Data” derived from multiple Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) to elucidate the genetic basis of AMD. As a young researcher, he will also share his experiences with scientific training and research funding.

The briefing is co-sponsored by the AMD Alliance International (AMDAI), Alliance for Aging Research, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), European Vision Institute (EVI), and Lighthouse International. In 2010, AMDAI estimated that 33 million people worldwide experience vision impairment from AMD at a direct healthcare cost of $343 billion. AMD is the leading cause of blindness and low vision in the United States and the developed world. Since AMD affects central vision, specifically the macula in the light-sensitive back of the eye called the retina, it severely alters a person’s ability to read and drive, impacting productivity, independence, and quality of life and adding greatly to cost burden. NEI estimates that 200,000 Americans each year go on to develop advanced AMD, with this number expected to double by 2020.

The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, is proud to announce this program associated with its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative, a sustained educational effort acknowledged by Congress that recognizes the benefits of federally funded vision research. Visit its Web site at