Glaucoma 360? draws experts from every angle

October 15, 2011

Advocates of glaucoma research and education are banding together to present Glaucoma 360?, three days of activities all geared toward increasing awareness of research, treating patients, and finding a cure for the nation's second-leading cause of preventable blindness.

Glaucoma 360° will be co-chaired by Adrienne Graves, PhD, and Andrew Iwach, MD, and will be held at San Francisco's historic Palace Hotel.

Glaucoma 360° combines the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) annual gala with two meetings focused on glaucoma. The first, the "New Horizons Forum," brings together early-stage glaucoma companies, researchers, venture capitalists, industry executives, and FDA panelists to promote the kind of collaboration and understanding necessary for new product development.

By combining these three events, Glaucoma 360° will offer "a full-compass view" of "the cure, the catalysts, and the care" of glaucoma.

"I call it 'Glaucomapalooza,' " Dr. Graves said with a laugh.

All of the Glaucoma 360° events will benefit the GRF, which has spent $30 million since its 1978 inception to support researchers working to clarify the causes behind glaucoma and how the disease might best be treated or cured.

At the same time, organizers wanted to help small companies looking for assistance in navigating the murky waters of venture capital support, corporate buy-in, and regulatory approval. Drs. Graves and Iwach said they had admired the way Emmett Cunningham, MD, PhD, MPH, had brought together all of those segments for his popular "Ophthalmology Innovation Summit," and the GRF board wanted to build on that concept with a focus on glaucoma. Dr. Cunningham agreed to take part, and joined the event's advisory board.

"The idea is to get together and have a very interactive meeting, so that the early-stage companies get a showcase, and the industry and venture capital panels can discuss what they're looking for, where they see ophthalmology going, (and) how to contact them," Dr. Graves said.

Dr. Cunningham will moderate the venture capital panel, she added.