Representative Gus Bilirakis, himself visually impaired, has joined Republican representative Pete Sessions and Democratic representative Sanford Bishop have joined a bipartisan effort that pushes for funding to cure blindness.
The “Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act” creates “Eye-Bonds,” which would “finance packages of loans to projects at small labs, universities, and other centers that can’t secure needed funding to help progress their research on treatments and cures for a wide range conditions and causes of severe vision impairment.”
Representative Bilirakis’ office provided some more information on what the proposal offers:
The office explained that “Eye-Bonds will help to overcome what’s known as ‘The Valley of death.’ This refers to research that is never translated into treatments to help humans because of funding issues. This legislation would speed treatments across the valley and to the people who need them. The success of the Eye-Bonds will also provide a way to mobilize federal resources that can then be deployed for many other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Many other countries already directly support translational research; the Eye-Bond approach can advance American competitiveness in this critical sector with very limited taxpayer risk.”
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In addition, “The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, would be in charge of approving applications for Eye-Bond funding, a provision that ensures selected projects are top quality science and free of conflicts of interests. Taxpayers would be paid off before investors, a unique way to ensure that Eye-Bonds have virtually no cost to the federal deficit.”