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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR RECOGNIZES HOUSE EFFORTS TO INCREASE NIH/NEI FUNDING BUT URGES FURTHER IMPROVEMENT IN THE FY2008 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) recognized the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee for marking up a Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 funding bill that would increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding. However, since the net 1.9 percent NIH/1.5 percent NEI increase for programs is still below the biomedical inflation rate of 3.7 percent, NAEVR urges Congress to improve FY2008 NIH/NEI funding prospects as the appropriations process proceeds in both chambers.

"Although the House demonstrated great leadership in improving upon the Presidentís FY2008 budget request, especially in light of competing funding priorities, the proposed level represents the fourth year that NIH/NEI funding fails to keep pace with inflation," said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky, who added that this has resulted in a 14 percent decrease in NIH purchasing power, which jeopardizes the momentum of discovery and the ability to build upon past breakthroughs. ďFederal investment in vision research is more critical than ever, as eye disease and vision impairment is a growing public health problem due to an aging population, the disproportionate incidence of eye disease in minority populations, and sight-threatening conditions associated with chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes).

The House LHHS bill would increase NIH funding to $29.65 billion, an increase of $750 million or 2.6 percent above the current yearís funding level and $1.029 billion or 3.6 percent above the Presidentís request. However, due to an increase in the NIH transfer to the Global HIV/AIDS fund, the net increase in the NIH budget is $549 million or 1.9 percent. The bill would increase NEI funding by $9.9 million or 1.49 percent, which is $9.2 million over the Presidentís budget request. NAEVR had joined with the medical research advocacy community in requesting FY2008 NIH funding at $31 billion and NEI funding at $711 million—a 6.7 percent increase to make up for flat-to-negative funding that eroded NIHís purchasing power.

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.