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Chief Executive Officer's Letter

When it comes to research, the Foundation is always looking forward

SINCE I JOINED the Foundation Fighting Blindness in 2005, we have been keenly focused on moving treatments and cures into clinical trials. You could say that the phrase "clinical trials" has been our mantra. And as we look back over 2010, as well as the last five years, it's evident that we are living up to our mantra. Each year, more and more treatments have moved into clinical and translational studies - from gene therapies to pharmaceuticals to cell-based treatments.

It's been exhilarating to watch the advancement of science into the clinic, and the sustained commitment of you, our donors and volunteers, who are making the progress possible. Together, we have empowered the world's top retinal researchers to move their groundbreaking science out to the people whose vision depends on it. As we look ahead, and as you will see throughout this annual report, human studies will continue to be a strong focus for the Foundation in 2011 and for many years to come.

While success in the clinic is our ultimate goal, the Foundation Fighting Blindness must also remain committed to keeping the retinal research pipeline full, funding projects along a continuum of developmental stages. It is imperative that we continue driving basic science - the investigations that are taking place in academic laboratories around the world - to develop new and potentially better approaches to saving and restoring vision. Whether it is screening new compounds, identifying new genes, finding better ways to manipulate stem cells, or developing more effective gene delivery mechanisms, the Foundation must continue to fund early and intermediate stage research to improve upon the clinical and translational efforts that are underway today. We must always be looking ahead.

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It is imperative that we continue driving basic science to develop new and potentially better approaches to saving and restoring vision The Foundation is also investing significantly in career development for young and up-and-coming scientific and clinical researchers. We need to engage more young scientists and clinicians in retinal research because these young minds will be the innovators and visionaries of tomorrow. With so much knowledge, information and technological tools now at their fingertips, they have the resources to make major impacts very quickly.

While I am sure you'll enjoy the clinically-oriented science and human interest stories featured in this annual report, I encourage you to review the grants section, which begins on page 13. It provides an overview of virtually every research dollar we spend. I am confident you'll be impressed with the remarkable breadth of projects we fund.

Thanks again for making 2010 a successful year. We appreciate all you do to help move treatments and cures into clinical trials, and at the same time, keep the research pipeline full. Thanks to your tireless commitment to the fight against blindness, the future for people with retinal degenerative diseases is steadily getting brighter.

William T. Schmidt

Signiture: William T. Schmidt
William T. Schmidt
Chief Executive Officer
Foundation Fighting Blindness

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