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Dr. Steve Rose

Image of Dr. Stephen RoseAs 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

Genes Not Helpful in Predicting Onset of Late AMD

“Checkers,” an entry in the 2011 Midwest Cream Cheese Competition.

With a population of about 17,000, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is a typical Midwestern community and, according to its website, “a thriving city and wonderful place to call home.” With attractions such as the beautiful 6,000-acre Beaver Dam Lake and the Midwest Cream Cheese Competition, who am I to argue? But most important, at least in the fight against blindness, Beaver Dam plays a big role in the search for knowledge about age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
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An Eye for an Eye?

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visual cortex technology device
Occasionally, a person losing his or her vision to a retinal degeneration or a family member will ask me about complete eye transplantation. “Why can’t someone just get a new eye?”

Well, we can transplant corneas, the eye’s outer, protective covering. And we can replace lenses clouded by cataracts. (Remarkably, there are about 40,000 corneal transplants and 3 million cataract surgeries in the U.S. every year.)
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Turning Stem Cells Into “Super” Models

detail image of a retina, with photoreceptors in green.It’s a mystery that has confounded scientists for many years: Why don’t mice with Usher syndrome type 1 — one of three types of combined blindness and deafness in humans — lose vision? It is an important question, because mouse models help us understand how vision is lost and how effective treatments might be. But if the mouse isn’t losing vision, how can we tell if a potential vision-saving therapy is working?
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Nobel Prize Winners Have Big Impact on Emerging Retinal Treatments

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Shinya Yamanaka, co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine.For science geeks like me, the announcement of Nobel Prize for Medicine winners is always exciting news. But this year’s two recipients are especially near and dear to my heart, because their groundbreaking work is having an enormous impact on sight-saving retinal research.

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Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial Begins With Initial Participant

Dr. Rand Spencer, left, and Dr. David Birch, surgeon and lead investigator, respectively, in the StemCells, Inc., clinical trial.I was very excited to learn that another clinical trial using stem cells for the potential treatment of a retinal disease — in this case, dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — is now underway. StemCells, Inc. (got to love the company’s name) announced last week that its first patient was treated at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas.
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Argus II “Bionic Retina” Receives Recommendation for FDA Approval

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Graphic of the Argus II Prosthesis device
You wouldn’t think that the ability to sort black, white and grey socks would be a big deal for a successful attorney, but when that lawyer is completely blind from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and used a “bionic retina” to accomplish the simple task, well, that is a big deal.
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As Requested: A List of Current Clinical Trials for Retinal Degenerations

Image of test tubes filled with different colored liquidsWithout a doubt, as chief research officer at FFB, I get more questions about clinical trials – also known as human studies – than any other topic. So, I thought it would be useful to provide a list of the major clinical trials underway right now for retinal disease treatments. Continue Reading…

First Usher Syndrome Gene Therapy Patient in the News

Image of Test TubeI was very heartened to hear about and then see a recent news story on the first patient to be treated in the Usher syndrome 1B gene therapy clinical trial at Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University. When I saw the big smile on the face of Michelle Kopf, the young woman featured in the article, it brought a smile to my face.
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Fighting Blindness in China Will Greatly Benefit the West

Huajin Li and Fei Xu, two of Dr. Sui’s students, standing in front of Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Photograph by Dr. Steve Rose.A couple weeks ago, I was in China, to visit with Dr. Ruifang Sui, a Foundation-funded clinician-researcher at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing. During my time there, I felt like I had never left the United States. Don’t get me wrong — there’s no mistaking Beijing for Baltimore (the location of our national office) or Mandarin for English. But when it comes to retinal degenerations, we and the Chinese have a lot in common.

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New Clues for Keeping Cones Alive

Retinal cells, with cones in blue.Woody Allen once said, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” However, for researchers fighting blindness, “being there” when cones die — at least the cones in a mouse model of retinal disease — was recently a good thing. It provided important clues about how to keep them alive in people.

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