Clinician/Researcher to Educate Capitol Hill About Latest Diabetic Retinopathy Research

August 22, 2006
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
[email protected]


(Washington, DC) Today, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) announced that Thomas W. Gardner, M.D., M.S., (Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center) will speak about the latest National Eye Institute (NEI)-sponsored research into Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) at a Capitol Hill luncheon briefing on Tuesday, September 19, 2006, from 12 Noon – 1:15 pm in room B-339 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The briefing is being held in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF).

Dr. Gardner, whose most recent work appears in the September 2006 edition of the journal Diabetes, will describe the newest approaches to detect, treat and prevent diabetic retinopathy. These are being studied within a Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research (DRCR) Network, which is funded by the NEI and JDRF and includes 155 sites in 43 states, including the Hershey Medical Center. In recent report language for the Fiscal Year 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill, the House Appropriations Committee applauded the NEI for the collaborative efforts of the DRCR Network to test innovative treatments for diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, affects the retina, the light-sensitive back of the eye. It can cause blood vessels within the retina to swell and leak. It can also cause the formation of new blood vessels on the retina which can hemorrhage and result in severe vision loss and blindness. All individuals with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, are at risk of developing DR, and 45 percent of individuals diagnosed with diabetes already have some form of it. DR is the leading cause of blindness in the industrialized world among individuals age 25-74.

Thomas W. Gardner, M.D., M.S., is the Jack and Nancy Turner Professor of Ophthalmology and Cellular & Molecular Physiology and Vice Chair of Ophthalmology Research at the Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. An NEI-funded investigator, he is the author of more than 90 journal articles and abstracts on diabetic eye disease and cellular biology.

Further information on the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network can be found at

The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Congress and the public about the importance of federal funding for eye and vision research. AEVR unites the community of support for eye and vision research, including the ophthalmic and optometric professionals, consumer advocates and industry to speak with a unified voice about the economic and societal value of research. Visit AEVR’s Web site at

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. The Association’s advocacy efforts include helping to combat discrimination against people with diabetes; advocating for the increase of federal diabetes research and programs; and improved access to, and quality of, healthcare for people with diabetes. The Association’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Founded in 1940, the Association provides services to hundreds of communities across the country. Visit

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes research worldwide. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through support of research. Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump. Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke and amputation. Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $900 million to diabetes research, including more than $98 million in FY2005. In FY2005, the Foundation funded 500 centers, grants and fellowships in 19 countries. Visit