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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR COMMENDS THE HOUSE FOR ITS STRONG BIPARTISAN VOTE FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH REFORM ACT OF 2006

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) commended the House of Representatives for its September 26 passage of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reform Act of 2006 with a strong bipartisan vote of 414-2. NAEVR had endorsed the bill-one of 51 national organizations to do so-as stated by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Cong. Joe Barton (R-TX) in his introduction of the bill on the House floor. Chairman Barton expressed his hope that the Senate would take up this measure in this session and have a bill on the President’s desk for signing prior to year’s end.

In its September 22 endorsement letter, NAEVR commended Chairman Barton for his commitment to a strong and vibrant national biomedical research enterprise, as well as his leadership in working on a bipartisan basis. "We applaud your commitment to working with Congress to ensure NIH funding increases, and our community will fully support your efforts in that regard," wrote NAEVR Board President Dr. Stephen Ryan, M.D.

NAEVR has expressed its anticipation of the new opportunities for the National Eye Institute (NEI) presented by the legislation’s newly established “common fund” for trans-Institute research. “NEI’s 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. NAEVR’s 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 NAEVR’s Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.