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William T. Schmidt

William T. Schmidt was named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. (FFB) in May, 2005. As CEO, Schmidt is responsible for the overall management of the Foundation, which is the largest non-governmental source of funding for retinal degenerative disease research in the world. He also serves as CEO of the FFB Clinical Research Institute, the clinical research arm of FFB. Schmidt has had extensive experience as a senior executive for a number of high-profile and respected health research advocacy organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF). As Vice President of Public Affairs at JDRF, he directed the government relations, communications, media relations and foundation relations departments. During that time, Mr. Schmidt spearheaded a successful effort to increase Type 1 diabetes federal research programs by $240 million in new and dedicated funding over a three-year period. An honors graduate of Amherst College, Mr. Schmidt also received his J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law and completed the Kellogg Graduate School of Management’s Executive Development Program. The urgent mission of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. (FFB) is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, Usher Syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.

The following articles were authored by William T. Schmidt

2015 Top 10 Retinal-Research Advances

Researcher in a labThe Foundation Fighting Blindness’ scientists, donors and volunteers made 2015 an outstanding year in our fight against blindness. As I tabulated the year’s top 10 research advances—all made possible through FFB funding—I realized that eight are for clinical trials of emerging therapies that are launching or underway.
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Valerie Navy-Daniels Joins FFB to Lead All Research Fundraising Programs

Valerie Navy-DanielsI am delighted to welcome Valerie Navy-Daniels to the Foundation Fighting Blindness family. As our new chief development officer, she is overseeing all of our fundraising programs — including events, major gifts and membership — as well as communications and marketing. As many of you know, most of our research is funded by these fundraising programs, so her role is critical to the success of our mission of saving and restoring vision.
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ARVO 2015 Highlight: The National Eye Institute Invests $4 Million in Audacious-Goals Research

future of retinal researchThe National Eye Institute’s (NEI) establishment of its Audacious Goals in 2013 was a watershed moment in the drive to cure blinding retinal diseases. The mission of the program—to regenerate the neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system—is synonymous with the Foundation’s mission to eradicate retinal diseases. Most important, it means that the NEI is making significant investments in research that will benefit people with retinal conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, Stargardt disease, and age-related macular degeneration.
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For Rare Disease Day, Help Us Fight Retinal Diseases

logo - Rare Disease DaySince its inception in 1971, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has focused its efforts on helping people with rare diseases. In the United States, a rare disease is defined as that which affects fewer than 200,000 people. And, in fact, most vision-robbing retinal diseases—retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease and Usher syndrome included—fall into that category.
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The Top Research Advancements of 2014: How Fast Can We Go?

lab photoAs we approach 2015, it’s inspiring to look back on 2014 and recount the numerous advancements we’ve made in developing vision-saving treatments and cures. When I joined the Foundation nearly a decade ago, virtually nothing was in a human study. We were curing lots of blind mice, and clinical trials seemed elusive. But, today, more than a dozen promising therapies are being evaluated in people, and at least a dozen more clinical trials are expected to begin in the next few years.
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Let’s Get Behind This Senate Bill

The Capitol Building, Washington, DCKudos to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who, yesterday, introduced the Accelerate Biomedical Research Act in Congress. It’s a bill that seeks to restore absolutely necessary funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has been cut to the bone because of Congress’ years-long impasse on federal-budget spending. But as Sen. Harkin, chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, notes in his website post, “biomedical research should not be a partisan issue.”
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FFB Goes Live to Help Save Vision

Save Your Vision Live!It’s no mystery that the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ core mission is funding research for treatments and cures of retinal diseases, and that we’re making significant progress. A recent influx of clinical, or human, trials of drug, gene and stem-cell therapies is proof. But another key FFB focus is informing the masses about retinal diseases through our public health-education program.
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Show Us the Money: Updated Currency for the Visually Impaired

Beginning in 2019, the U.S. will introduce new currency that accommodates the visually impaired.Sometimes, the challenges of being blind can be summed up as simply and literally as making change for a buck.

For millions with print disabilities, American paper currency is inaccessible—unlike most foreign currency, which distinguishes denominations by size and color, even texture and smell, to ensure that error and confusion do not occur.

In 2008, a U.S. District Court held that American paper currency discriminates against people with print disabilities. Since that time, federal agencies have been working together to develop and produce viable solutions.
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Social Media Alert: Top 13 Retinal Research Advancements of 2013

Top 13 Retinal Research Advancement of 2013I admittedly am not a heavy social-media user — I am not much for “tweeting” — but as I put together this list of the top retinal research advancements of 2013, I realized it would make great content for social media. Of course, my FFB colleagues will be sure to get the list out via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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FFB Chairman, Gordon Gund, Interviewed on Forbes.com

FFB chairman and co-founder Gordon Gund.Over on Forbes.com, contributor Devin Thorpe is compiling a series of interviews with people representing organizations dedicated, as he writes, to solving “the world’s biggest challenges within the next thirty years.” Blindness is obviously among them, so we’re very appreciative that, this past Monday, Devin interviewed FFB’s chairman, Gordon Gund.
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