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September 22, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director


(Washington, D.C.) Today, in a letter to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) endorsed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reform Act of 2006, which was reported out on September 20 and is scheduled for House floor action prior to the impending election recess.

"NAEVR commends you for your commitment to a strong and vibrant national biomedical research enterprise, as well as your leadership in working on a bipartisan basis," wrote NAEVR Board President Stephen Ryan, M.D. "We applaud your commitment to working with Congress to ensure NIH funding increases, and our community will fully support your efforts in that regard," added Ryan, who also expressed appreciation to Committee staff for their responsiveness to the vision communityís concerns about previous versions of the bill.

NAEVR expressed its anticipation of opportunities for the National Eye Institute (NEI) presented by the legislationís newly established "common fund" for trans-Institute research. "NEIís trans-Institute research efforts have resulted in numerous breakthroughs cited by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., including the recent discovery of gene variants associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the United States," stated Ryan. He concluded by noting that this research brings hope to all Americans, especially the 38 million citizens age 40 and older who experience blindness, low vision or age-related eye disease such as AMD, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or cataracts.

The NIH Reform Act of 2006 reauthorizes the NIH for three years and authorizes funding increases of five percent for each of the fiscal years 2007 to 2009. In alignment with recommendations from a 2003 report entitled Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the bill: creates, funds and specifies the management of a "common fund" for trans-Institute NIH research; creates a Scientific Management Review Board to conduct periodic evaluations of NIH management and structure; and increases NIH transparency through more comprehensive reports to Congress.

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