NIH launches National Commission on Digestive Diseases

Bethesda, Maryland (Sept. 14, 2005) This week, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, announced the establishment of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases. This is a major victory for patients with digestive diseases and for the AGA, which has worked tirelessly for the creation of the Commission.

Consistent with AGA legislative language included in an appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush last year, NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will develop a Long-Range Plan for Digestive Diseases to focus on the needs of gastroenterologists and their patients.

"The creation of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases is a landmark event in the advancement of the science and practice of gastroenterology," said David A. Peura, MD, AGA president. "Our goal in proposing the Commission was to obtain the funds and focus needed to increase the rate of discovery and to translate advances into clinical practice."

The Commission will assess the state-of-the-science in digestive diseases and the related NIH research portfolio, with a view toward identifying areas of research challenge and opportunity. The Commission's Research Plan will then guide the NIHalong with the investigative and lay communitiesin pursuing important research avenues to combating digestive diseases.

In 1976, Congress created the Commission on Digestive Diseases Research, which proposed a long-term plan and made recommendations that laid the groundwork for significant progress in the area of digestive health. The newly mandated National Commission on Digestive Diseases will update the findings of the original Commission and will be composed of scientists, physicians, patient advocates and representatives of federal agencies.

According to "The Burden of Gastrointestinal Diseases," a study conducted by the AGA in 2001, disorders of the digestive tract comprise a spectrum of gastroin

Contact: Kimberly Wise
American Gastroenterological Association

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