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Who We Are

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

2012 - 2016 Strategic Plan

We enter 2012 with a set of organizational priorities intended to take the Foundation to even higher ground, in terms of finances, research and support for those affected by retinal degenerative diseases.  These priorities, which affect all aspects of the organization, will focus our efforts and resources toward our goal of clinical success. Learn more about the Foundation's strategic plan.

  • More than 10 million Americans of every age and race suffer vision loss from these blinding diseases.
  • The Foundation has funded thousands of research studies at hundreds of prominent institutions worldwide. Currently, the Foundation funds 129 grants and 71 institutions.
  • The Foundation funds leading-edge research in promising areas such as genetics, gene therapy, retinal cell transplantation, and pharmaceutical and nutritional therapies.
  • Since its inception on September 16, 1971, the Foundation has raised nearly $550 million toward its mission to eradicate retinal diseases.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome are inherited diseases commonly diagnosed during childhood or young adulthood. RP causes severe vision loss leading to legal and/or complete blindness. Children with Usher syndrome are born with varying degrees of deafness and later develop RP.
  • Age-related macular degeneration has inherited risks and is characterized by a progressive loss of central vision. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 55 in the U.S. and other developed countries.
  • The Foundation has 50 volunteer-led groups across the U.S. These dedicated volunteers raise funds, increase public awareness, and provide support to their communities.
  • Leading retinal research scientists praise the advances enabled by the Foundation. (See below.)
  • The Foundation provides information and outreach programs for patients, families and professionals.

Leading retinal research scientists praise the advances enabled by The Foundation.

  • Morton F. Goldberg, M.D.
    Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Univ. Hospital; served as Director of Wilmer for 15 years.

    “FFB is an extraordinary organization. It has given hope to people who didn’t previously have hope, and it has supported the most important fundamental research in the retinal degenerations being carried out anywhere in the world today. Thanks to FFB I have confidence that we will understand and be able to successfully treat many of these (retinal degenerative) diseases in the relatively near future... we are on the verge of human clinical trials and that would not have happened without the support of the FFB.”
  • Stephen P. Daiger, Ph.D.
    Human Genetics Center, Univ. of Texas Health Science Center

    “This incredible flowering of knowledge…was nursed into existence by the Foundation Fighting Blindness…If you were to take the thousand most important papers published in the past 15 years in the field of inherited retinal diseases, you would find that over 900 have authors supported by this Foundation.”
  • Raymond D. Lund, Ph.D.
    FRS, Univ. of Utah Health Science Center, Moran Eye Center

    “The Foundation has given a sense of hope to the families that are affected. They’ve pulled in scientists like me and others to be interested in the problems and apply our knowledge…it’s a proactive thing. The Foundation says we need this problem solved, how do we do it. There is no other foundation as focused as this one on these problems.”
  • Donald J. Zack, M.D., Ph.D.
    Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medical School

    “The Foundation, existing as an independent private entity, is able to very quickly fund young investigators and fund new and exciting projects. The Foundation has really played a major role in getting a number of important projects off the ground which would not have happened without FFB support. FFB has stimulated interaction and collaboration between different scientific groups and centers, and it has funded a variety of research meetings that have helped scientists learn about areas outside of their own, so they can do more productive and more powerful research.”
  • Edwin Stone, M.D., Ph.D.
    Univ. of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Dept. of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

    “FFB has played a tremendous role in my development as an ophthalmologist and scientist and in the growing of our program. The FFB has gathered together scientists from all over the world who are interested in a similar thing: to try to cure these diseases…People have to say, “yes I’m interested in helping this year and I’m interested in helping next year because it just isn’t Ok for a child to be born missing one gene product in their retina. The Foundation has been a kind of “antenna” conveying the resources from society to the scientist and they have done a very successful job of it.”

Leadership Staff

Chief Staff Management Staff
William T. Schmidt
Chief Executive Officer
Susan Brumley
Sr. National Director, Development
James W. Minow
Chief Development Officer
Lorraine Hirsch, CPA 
Deputy Chief Financial Officer
Stephen M. Rose, Ph.D.
Chief Research Officer
Brian Mansfield, Ph.D.
Deputy Chief Research Officer
Annette Hinkle, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Michele Mercer
Senior Director, Database Operations
Patricia A. Dudley
Chief Human
Resources Officer
Anastasia Staten
Senior Director, Membership
Patricia Zilliox, Ph.D.
Chief Drug Development
Officer
Angela Vasquez
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications

Winter 2014

For more information, please contact the Foundation at:

7168 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 100
Columbia, MD 21046
800-683-5555 • 800-683-5551 TDD

 

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