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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

New NIH Institute Accelerating Sight-Saving Research to the Clinic

NCATS at the NIH helps move retinal research projects toward clinical trials. When it comes to advancing potential sight-saving treatments into human studies, collaborations and partnerships are critical to accelerating the research process. That’s why fighting blindness has always been a team effort for us.
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Is Acupuncture a Beneficial Treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

acupuncture for eyesWe at the Foundation Fighting Blindness have been receiving questions about acupuncture for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), namely because of feasibility research conducted by Ava Bittner, O.D., Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University, in collaboration with Andy Rosenfarb, N.D., L.Ac, who specializes in acupuncture and ophthalmic Chinese medicine. Their project was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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Urine Test Helps Diagnose RP Caused by DHDDS Mutations

Microscope and lab equipmentResearchers from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami and Duke University are developing a urine test to help determine if the cause of autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP) in Ashkenazi Jews is mutations in the gene DHDDS. While it isn’t a substitute for a diagnosis through genetic testing, the urine test can verify that a given DHDDS mutation is, in fact, causing RP. (Some mutations might be benign.) It can also be used to identify people who are unaffected carriers of DHDDS-associated arRP. Results of the researchers’ related investigation were published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
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Government Shutdown: You Can’t Just Hit the Pause Button on Research

Hand turning off lightYou’ve certainly heard about the far-reaching and sometimes devastating effects of the government shutdown. Unfortunately, numerous retinal research projects, especially those taking place at the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the federally funded National Institutes of Health (NIH), are falling victim to the closure. In fact, NIH is reporting that 73 percent of its staff — including researchers — have been furloughed.
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The Foundation’s Center Grants Foster Essential Retinal Research Collaborations

Question: How many researchers does it take to develop a retinal-disease treatment? (No, this isn’t a politically incorrect joke.) The answer is near the end of this article, but no looking ahead!
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Researchers Move Closer to Getting a Complete Genetic Picture of the Retina

The human retina is only about the size of a quarter. Yet a majority of the human body’s 20,000-plus genes are “expressed” in it. When a gene is expressed, it is giving information to a cell to make something. Sometimes the expression leads to the production of proteins critical to retinal function and health. In other cases, the expression doesn’t lead to anything meaningful that we know of at the moment. Identifying the genes and proteins that play a major role in retinal health and vision is an important step in finding preventions and cures for degenerative diseases.
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Several New Stem Cell Clinical Trials Poised to Begin in Two to Three Years

Microscopic Stem CellsOne of the more exciting aspects of FFB’s recent annual conference, VISIONS 2013, was the news on the clinical development of several emerging stem cell therapies. The field has picked up a lot of steam, with many new human studies of stem-cell treatments anticipated to begin in 2014 and 2015.
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Update on Six Gene Therapy Clinical Trials Presented at VISIONS 2013

Dr Shannon BoyeWhether you’re a researcher or affected by a retinal disease, hearing the latest news from the clinical-trial front lines is a great perk of FFB’s annual conference. On the last day of VISIONS 2013, I had the privilege of moderating a compelling update on six gene-therapy clinical trials provided by Shannon Boye, Ph.D., a gene therapy developer at the University of Florida, and Michel Michaelides, M.D., a clinician-researcher at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the United Kingdom. All of these emerging treatments, given in recaps below, were made possible by Foundation funding.
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Scientists Convene at VISIONS 2013 to Evaluate Research Projects for Funding

FFB Scientific Advisory Board members Drs. David Birch, Retina Foundation of the Southwest; Jeremy Nathans, Johns Hopkins University; Ricard Weleber, Oregon Health & Science University.

Just before the official kick-off of the VISIONS 2013 conference in Baltimore, 20 members of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) gathered in an intensive daylong session to evaluate 28 individual research projects up for funding from the Foundation. The proposals were finalists from 117 initial submissions made last fall. Continue Reading…

The Argus II is Approved. What’s Next for Bionic Retinas?

A Retinal Implant developed by Retina Implant AGAs the Foundation reported back in February, the Argus II retinal prosthesis, developed by Second Sight Medical Products, received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For those of us on the front lines of fighting blindness — whether we’re raising funds, conducting  research or stand to personally benefit from the results — the device’s approval is one of the most exciting milestones in vision restoration ever achieved.
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