Newswise — May 1, 2017, San Francisco, CA – Glaucoma Research Foundation announced the most ambitious fundraising effort in its history with the public launch of The Cure is in Sight Campaign at its Annual Meeting and Dinner on April 25th in San Francisco.
The $15 million campaign will fund advancements in glaucoma research and support educational programs for patients and eye doctors. With more than $10 million raised to date during the campaign’s initial quiet phase, the goal is to complete The Cure is in Sight Campaign by June 2018 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
“Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world and everyone is at risk,” said Thomas M. Brunner, President and CEO of Glaucoma Research Foundation. “We are closer than ever to realizing a future without glaucoma, but additional philanthropic support is needed to continue funding innovative and promising research.”
The Cure is in Sight Campaign funding priorities include:
1. Catalyst for a Cure Consortium
The Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) Biomarker Initiative brings together four laboratories, each with a specific skill set, to work together in the pursuit of new, sensitive and specific biomarkers for glaucoma. The CFC principal investigators are Alfredo Dubra, PhD, Andrew G. Huberman, PhD, Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD, and Vivek Srinivasan, PhD.
Since their establishment in 2012, the CFC team has made exceptional progress, moving their studies from the laboratory to the clinic for further testing of three potential new glaucoma biomarkers. A new biomarker may also provide a new treatment target for glaucoma, potentially helping millions to preserve vision.
A key element to the team’s success is the development of advanced imaging systems with the goal of identifying changes in the retinal ganglion cells that are first affected in glaucoma — so that patients can be treated before vision is irreversibly lost.
2. Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research
This research initiative provides grants to investigators with novel ideas that hold promise and explore new territory. They function as incubator grants and enable scientists to go forward with potentially groundbreaking studies. As a result, more researchers are focusing on solving glaucoma vision loss and more critical investigations are initiated, leading us closer to new therapies and a cure.
Many important breakthroughs have resulted from these studies including the first genetic discovery in glaucoma and the isolation of the TIGR gene — found to be responsible for the onset of some forms of juvenile and adult glaucoma.
To date, Glaucoma Research Foundation has funded more than 200 individual pilot projects. Each award, on average, has led to follow-on funding from the National Eye Institute and other organizations totaling four times the original grant. This return on investment is unique in medical research.
3. Glaucoma Education and Awareness
Glaucoma Research Foundation has a comprehensive patient education program that includes free publications and newsletters, an extensive website, engaging social media, and helpful videos. They host an annual innovation and educational meeting that features the latest developments in glaucoma and highlights best practices and new clinical advances for eye doctors. More than 1,000 experts, doctors, and patients from the glaucoma community attend the yearly “Glaucoma 360” which brings together national and international thought leaders in the field to collaborate, share their latest findings, and discuss research priorities.
At the Campaign launch event, the Catalyst for a Cure investigators updated the event’s attendees on the team’s progress to identify new biological measures to diagnose and manage glaucoma more effectively. “The principle is team science,” explained Dr. Goldberg, “with the intent of discovering fundamental biology, implementing it in innovative engineering, and pushing it from the laboratory into the clinic.”
“This is an exciting and critical time in glaucoma,” said Andrew G. Iwach, MD, Board Chair of Glaucoma Research Foundation. “For nearly 40 years, Glaucoma Research Foundation has helped define the agenda for glaucoma research and The Cure is in Sight Campaign will lead the way to a cure. Ultimately this campaign will benefit patients and help them preserve, and perhaps even restore their vision.”
Mr. Brunner added: “The identification of new glaucoma biomarkers has allowed our investigators to commence two clinical trials for vision restoration. With the momentum of our research and the launch of The Cure is in Sight Campaign, we aspire to engage dedicated donors in our shared goal of a future without glaucoma.”
To increase awareness about glaucoma and help reach the $15 million goal, Glaucoma Research Foundation has launched a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign that will allow individuals or teams to raise money online. “We are very excited to offer an opportunity for patients and our donors to raise money and share their personal interest in glaucoma with their family and friends,” said Mr. Brunner. “The website is secure, easy to use, and all funds raised go directly to Glaucoma Research Foundation to benefit our programs.”
A History of Philanthropy
Glaucoma Research Foundation was founded in 1978 by three glaucoma specialists in San Francisco. Drs. John Hetherington, Jr., H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., and Robert Shaffer wanted better ways to care for their patients. They knew that dedicated basic science and clinical research were urgently needed. Generous philanthropic support from two of their grateful patients, Blanche Matthias and Berenice Hauch, allowed for the creation of Glaucoma Research Foundation. Their goal was to advance critical investigations to learn more about the disease, discover new treatments, and ultimately to find a cure. Over the past 39 years, Glaucoma Research Foundation has invested more than $50 million in research and education. Dr. Hoskins said recently: “I am proud to say we have accomplished much, but we have much more to do to eliminate this blinding disease. Glaucoma Research Foundation is positioned to get us there. I can’t think of a better place to invest in glaucoma research.”
A Pivotal Time
The Cure is in Sight Campaign comes at a pivotal time, with the Catalyst for a Cure research team’s identification of new structural and functional biomarkers, and the launch of clinical trials for vision restoration. Mr. Brunner added: “The work of these scientists is going to produce life-changing advancements. Through the Cure is in Sight Campaign and the generosity of the glaucoma community, we can stop patients from going blind.”
For more information about The Cure is in Sight Campaign, visit www.glaucoma.org/campaign
About Glaucoma Research Foundation
Founded in San Francisco in 1978, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is America’s oldest and most experienced institution dedicated solely to its mission: Preventing vision loss from glaucoma by investing in innovative research, education and support with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. GRF has a proven track record of innovative, results-oriented research and produces definitive educational materials used by eye care professionals across the country. The Glaucoma Research Foundation website, www.glaucoma.org, provides valuable information about glaucoma to more than 4 million visitors annually.