Foundation Fighting Blindness Role in Advancing Inherited Retinal Disease Research Evident at ARVO National Conference

(Columbia, MD) – The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)’s annual conference – Baltimore, May 7-11 – gathers the field’s leading researchers to report on advancements in vision science including the search for cures for retinal degenerative diseases. Among the conference’s expert sessions will be 98 presentations or posters reporting on research funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB).

 “It is a testament to the critical role that the Foundation Fighting Blindness has played in the progress toward treatments for retinal degenerations that so many Foundation-funded researchers are presenting at the ARVO meeting. The Foundation’s strategy is one of fostering innovation and collaboration in an effort to enable and de-risk research on the development of potential treatments for inherited retinal diseases. This strategy is paying off in many exciting ways across the spectrum of potential treatments: drugs, small molecules, as well as gene and cell therapies,” said Stephen Rose, PhD, FFB’s Chief Research Officer.

Conference presenters whose research is currently supported by the Foundation include:

Gustavo D. Aguirre, VMD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Aguirre is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Proctor Award and will present on how his unique canine models of retinal degenerations laid the groundwork for much of the progress in clinical trials for gene therapy-based retinal disease treatments.

Donald Zak, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Zak will moderate the closing Keynote session on how his and other’s research is helping to increase understanding of the role of genetics in age-related macular degeneration.

Jacque Duncan, MD, University of California at San Francisco Medical Center

Dr. Duncan, an ophthalmologist and clinical researcher and chair of FFB’s Scientific Advisory Board, will present on imaging the retina to understand how changes in retinal structure affect its light sensing ability when inherited retinal degenerations occur.

In addition, a number of leading members of the vision science community serve on FFB’s Scientific Advisory Board.  Among FFB Scientific Advisory Board members presenting at the conference are:

Johanna Seddon, MD, MS, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center, will give the Mildred Weisenfeld Award and Lecture on the role genetic risk, lifestyle and environmental factors play in macular degeneration epidemiology.

Jeremy Nathans, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will give the Beckman-Argyros Award in Visions Research Lecture. Dr. Nathans’ research focuses on using molecular genetic approaches to study the development of mammalian retina and embryo.

Finally, ProgStar, a natural history project for Stargardt disease conducted by FFB’s Clinical Research Institute will be featured in a conference session.  The $6 million study enrolled more than 365 unique participants at 12 sites worldwide.

During its 46-year history FFB has invested nearly $400 million into early, pre-clinical and clinical retinal disease research. This year FFB and FFB’s Clinical Research Institute are supporting over 150 researchers through 84 grants at 61 institutions.

# # #

The Foundation Fighting Blindness was established in 1971. It has since raised more than $700 million for research aimed at preventing, treating and curing blindness caused by retinal degenerative diseases. In excess of 10 million Americans, and millions more worldwide, experience vision loss due to retinal degeneration. Through its support of focused and innovative science, the Foundation drives the research that has and will continue to provide treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and other inherited retinal diseases. 




Original Date: 
Monday, May 1, 2017