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Congressional briefing boosts collaborative effort



A congressional briefing at the National Eye Institute has highlighted the need for research partnerships to fight diabetic retinopathy effectively.

The briefing featured Thomas W. Gardner, MD, MS, a diabetes researcher, clinician and professor of ophthalmology and cellular and molecular physiology from the Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, part of the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research (DRCR) Network.

During the one-day event, Dr. Gardner met with Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), a co-chairman of the Congressional Vision Caucus with NIH oversight, as well as senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum (both R-PA).

The network, funded by NEI and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, is a collaboration of clinicians and researchers from different specialties who are combining their skills to discover preventions, treatments, and cures for diabetic retinopathy.

The network includes 545 experts at 163 clinical sites in 43 states and is one of several collaborative efforts funded by the NEI over the past 30 years to study diabetic retinopathy. These networks have led to effective diabetic retinopathy treatments that have reduced blindness by 90% and save $1.6 billion annually in health-care costs, the NEI said.

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