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Dr. Steve Rose

As the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ chief research officer, Dr. Stephen Rose – who prefers to be called Steve – is highly respected for his expertise, intelligence and tireless commitment to finding treatments and cures for vision-robbing retinal diseases. But it’s his accessibility and down-to-earth nature that stand out for many of his peers and Foundation members. “With Steve, the door is always open. You can walk into his office at almost any time with a problem or an issue, and he is ready and willing to help,” says Dr. Brian Mansfield, the Foundation’s deputy chief research officer. “He also has a phenomenal memory and knowledge base to draw from. And in the event he doesn’t have an immediate answer for you, he’ll pick up the phone and reach out to his many friends and collaborators throughout the science community. The man is incredibly well-connected.” Steve, who has a Ph.D. in microbiology and joined the Foundation in 2004, supervises its research efforts, which include awarding grants and facilitating clinical trials. He also manages the Science department and works closely with the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, Board of Directors and Science Liaison Committee. Before joining the Foundation, he served more than 14 years with the National Institutes of Health, where he led several divisions, including genetics, clinical research and transplantation studies. He’s also a member of many prominent scientific and research organizations, including: the Health Research Alliance, the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the American Association of Immunologists. Despite his background, Steve has a knack for explaining scientific concepts and retinal research in terms that everyone understands, making him a popular speaker at Foundation and retinal-field events. Bill Schmidt, the Foundation’s chief executive officer, appreciates Steve for, among other things, his enthusiasm. “There’s no one more passionate about retinal research,” Bill says, “and he does all he can to ensure that the Foundation supports only the best projects — those with strong sight-saving potential. There’s no better advocate for those who’ve lost or are losing their sight, and our recent success in driving research into the clinic is great evidence of that.”

The following articles were authored by Dr. Steve Rose

How Evolution is Leading to Gene Therapies for More Retinal Diseases

Dr. John FlanneryAt first blush, gene therapy for retinal diseases seems so simple: Inject a tiny drop of liquid containing good copies of a gene to replace the bad, and you’re home free. Vision is saved, and, in some cases, it’s even restored.

But the reality is: Developing gene therapies that are safe, effective and long-lasting is very challenging in our world of genetically diverse retinal degenerations. Scientists have to design a delivery system that gets the genes to the right types of cells across the entire retina, but without affecting other cells.
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A Must-Attend Event for People and Families Affected by Usher Syndrome

Usher Syndrome Family ConferenceFor those affected by Usher syndrome, the world’s leading cause of combined vision and hearing loss, there’s an upcoming event in Boston that should not be missed. Actually, it’s two events, back-to-back: the International Symposium on Usher Syndrome July 10 and 11; and the 6th Annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference July 12.
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ARVO 2014: European Collaboration Developing Cross-Cutting, Vision-Saving Therapies

The DRUGSFORD collaborativeOne of the most intriguing reports on therapy development at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology came from a European collaborative project called DRUGSFORD, which is derived from the phrase “drugs for retinal degeneration.” With funding from the European Union, the project brings together three research groups and two companies to develop a therapy that can treat a disease pathway common to many retinal degenerations. Simply put, they’re creating therapies that can save vision in as many people as possible, independent of the genetic cause of disease.
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ARVO 2014: Breaking the 50-Percent Barrier in Successful Genetic Screenings

While it makes perfect sense to get excited about the progress being made in developing sight-saving treatments and cures, we shouldn’t lose sight (no pun intended) of the importance of successfully diagnosing patients. Though some therapies under development will work independent of patients’ defective genes, knowing their mutation(s) opens the door to a precise diagnosis, a more accurate prognosis and a much better understanding of which emerging therapies might save or restore vision down the road. Participation in clinical, or human, trials often requires a genetic diagnosis as well.
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ARVO 2014: The Latest Retinal Research News from the Magic Kingdom

The Foundation’s science team is in Orlando over the next week for the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision in Ophthalmology, which convenes more than 10,000 of the world’s top eye researchers to report on their latest achievements.
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Fighting Blindness Goes Prime Time with Charlie Rose

It’s not every day that a national television talk show devotes an entire hour to retinal degenerative diseases and the research to overcome them, but that’s exactly what Charlie Rose did on his program last week.
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Making Accurate Diagnoses Possible

As most people affected by retinal diseases know, firsthand, there are relatively few eye doctors who understand and can accurately diagnose those diseases. It can take referrals to several doctors before finding one — often at a Foundation-funded research center — with the knowledge and diagnostic tools necessary to determine which retinal disease is causing a patient’s vision loss.
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The Power of Suggestion — Challenges of the Placebo Effect

A spoonful of placebo pillsIn the early 2000s, Harvard researcher Ted Kaptchuk collaborated with gastroenterologists on a placebo study of 262 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The participants were put into one of three groups.

The first cohort was told they were in a waiting line for an up-and-coming treatment and given little verbal support or additional information from the clinical practitioner.
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Choroideremia Gene Therapy Improves Vision in Human Study

Dr. Robert MacLaren, lead investigator in the gene therapy trial.The development of retinal-disease gene therapies took a monumental step forward on January 16 with a report in The Lancet that researchers were able to improve vision in five of six people with choroideremia participating in a clinical trial.
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Nouvelle Lumière: French Bionic Retina in a Human Study

A rendering of Pixium's IRIS device.There’s no doubt that 2013 was a milestone year for bionic retinas. Previously approved for sale in Europe, Second Sight’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System received marketing approval in February from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Also, in July, Retina Implant AG gained European marketing approval for its Alpha IMS retinal implant.
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