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FFB Appoints Vargas-Cortes to Lead Advancement of Retinal Disease Treatments into Human Studies

Owings Mills, MD - August 14, 2008 - The Foundation Fighting Blindness has chosen Mauricio Vargas-Cortes, Ph.D., as Chief Drug Development Officer for their clinical support organization, the National Neurovision Research Institute. Dr. Vargas-Cortes brings nearly 20 years of wide-ranging drug development experience to the Foundation, where he will lead efforts to move emerging treatments for vision-robbing retinal degenerative diseases into clinical trials.

“The Foundation plays a critical role in developing and delivering sight-saving treatments that would otherwise be unavailable,” says Vargas-Cortes. “I am very excited to be with the Foundation to accelerate the process of getting these promising treatments into clinical trials and out to the people who need them.”

Most recently, Vargas-Cortes was the Vice President for Project Management at MedImmune, a biotechnology company with more than $1.1 billion in revenues. In that role, he was responsible for coordinating and optimizing research and development activities for MedImmune’s portfolio of emerging products for infectious diseases, cancer, and immunological applications. He was responsible for defining and managing virtually every milestone in the product development process.

Vargas-Cortes says, “My experience in pharmaceutical product development will enable the Foundation to anticipate and quickly clear regulatory and technical hurdles. I’ll make sure we keep treatments moving forward.”

Vargas-Cortes has also worked in key clinical product research, development, and management roles for Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson & Johnson. He received a doctorate degree in immunology from the University of Stockholm, and began his career as a clinical research scientist.

“Dr. Vargas-Cortes has very strong experience at virtually every step of the drug development process,” says William Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “He has the ideal skill set to move emerging treatments for retinal diseases into clinical trials and out to the people who need them. We are delighted to have him on board with so many promising therapies in the pipeline.”

“We are thrilled to have an executive of Dr. Vargas-Cortes’ caliber to move these treatments forward as quickly and effectively as possible,” says Stephen Rose, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “His strength and experience in both science and management will serve us very well.”

The urgent mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.


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