Glaucoma 360 celebrates with festive fund-raising gala

January 31, 2019

The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) kicked off its 8th annual Glaucoma 360 Thursday night. The three-day event highlights the latest innovation in glaucoma technology and therapies to bring a cure for glaucoma.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) kicked off its 8th annual Glaucoma 360 Thursday night. The three-day event highlights the latest innovation in glaucoma technology and therapies to bring a cure for glaucoma.

The Annual Gala, GRF’s fund-raising event, was attended by about 400 people at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. In addition to the reception, the evening included a silent auction, dinner, and a live auction, including a matching gift opportunity as part of the Fund-A-Scientist Initiative.

Glaucoma 360 runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. It is co-chaired and co-founded by Andrew Iwach, MD, chairman of the board of GRF, and executive director, Glaucoma Center of San Francisco, and Adrienne Graves, PhD, a GRF board member and an independent director on the boards of many ophthalmic companies.

Ophthalmology Times is the official partner and media sponsor for Glaucoma 360.

Thomas Brunner, GRF’s president and CEO, said this year’s gala was one of the largest crowds for the fundraising event to date. The theme for the gala was “The Cure Is In Sight.” To date, this annual event has raised more than $5 million.

Money raised at the black-tied event will help fund the next phase in GRF’s breakthrough research program, “Catalyst for a Cure.” This latest phase, which builds upon 16 years of research into the early biological indicators and measurement of glaucoma, will focus on the ambitious goal of actual vision restoration for glaucoma patients.

“We appreciate all of our supporters coming out and attending this fun event each year,” Brunner said. “We could not continue to advance our important mission without their dedication and passion.” 

The evening’s festivities concluded with a special musical performance from San Francisco native Fred Ross joined by two-time Grammy Award winning violinist Mads Tolling.

Honors

At the event, the Catalyst Award, GRF’s highest honor, was presented to Mona and Ed Zander of Carmel, CA, in recognition of their leadership and lifelong commitment to advancing medical research.

“GRF is indebted to Mona and Ed for their outstanding support and ongoing involvement in our mission to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research,” Brunner said prior to the event. “As a member of the (GRF) Board of Directors, Mona was instrumental in our board and fund-raising activities. We are honored to have an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Mona and Ed’s extraordinary dedication to a future free from glaucoma.”

Robert L. Stamper, MD, of Berkeley, CA, received the 2019 Visionary Award in honor of his more than 30 years of service on GRF’s Board of Directors. Dr. Stamper is a distinguished professor of clinical ophthalmology and director emeritus of the Glaucoma Service, University of California, San Francisco.

“We are delighted to have an opportunity to recognize Dr. Stamper for his numerous contributions to the field of glaucoma,” Brunner explained. “Helping patients and teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists are his greatest pleasures. As a member of (the GRF) Research Committee, Bob inspired the next phase of our Catalyst for a Cure consortium. He is a true visionary.”

The 2019 Shaffer Prize for Innovative Glaucoma Research was presented to Adriana di Polo, PhD, professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Montreal. The Shaffer Prize is presented annually at the gala to recognize an exceptional research project that best exemplifies the pursuit of innovative ideas in the mission to better understand glaucoma. Dr. Di Polo was honored for her research seeking treatments to restore vision in glaucoma patients.

GRF also announced the names of the principal researchers who will lead the vision restoration initiative for Catalyst for A Cure. They are Xin Duan, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Physiology, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco; Yang Hu, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA; Anna La Torre, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, University of California, Davis, and Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, San Diego Shiley Eye Institute, University of California, San Diego.

About Glaucoma 360

Glaucoma 360 is dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma. More than 1,000 attendees are expected to participate in at least one of the three events-The Annual Gala, the New Horizons Forum, and the Annual Glaucoma Symposium-this weekend. Last night’s gala was the first piece of Glaucoma 360’s annual goal to “celebrate, innovate, and educate.”

Today, the meeting moves into the “innovate” phase, with the 8th Annual New Horizons Forum, a full-day meeting dedicated to pushing the envelope on innovations in glaucoma therapies and diagnostics. The event is designed to help fast-track ideas from concept to reality by bringing together funders, clinical leaders, representatives of the FDA, and more. Many ideas presented at this event over the years are now products helping patients.

Saturday will highlight “educate” with the Annual Glaucoma Symposium. There will be two half-day continuing medical education symposia, one for ophthalmologists in the morning and another for optometrists in the afternoon.

“Glaucoma 360 has become our signature event and has truly been an important catalyst in advancing new therapies to help patients preserve their vision,” Brunner added. “We simply must do more to preserve sight and restore vision lost from glaucoma.”