Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) honored a long-time global leader in ophthalmology with its Catalyst Award on Thursday night at the foundation’s Glaucoma 360 Annual Gala and presented two renowned stem-cell researchers with its Visionary Award.
Adrienne Graves, PhD, honored with 2015 Catalyst Award
(Video courtesy of the Glaucoma Research Foundation)
San Francisco-Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) honored a long-time global leader in ophthalmology with its Catalyst Award on Thursday night at the foundation’s Glaucoma 360 Annual Gala and presented two renowned stem-cell researchers with its Visionary Award.
Adrienne Graves, PhD
Honored for her outstanding leadership and many contributions to ophthalmology, as well as her dedicated service to GRF’s Board of Directors, Adrienne Graves, PhD, received the 2015 Catalyst Award. The Catalyst Award has acknowledged exemplary leadership that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit of scientific discovery since 2005.
“Dr. Graves is a visual scientist by training and has dedicated her career to research to preserve vision,” said Thomas M. Brunner, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of GRF. “In 2012, she co-founded Glaucoma 360, an innovative meeting to advance new therapies for glaucoma. We are thrilled to recognize Adrienne for her extraordinary achievements and dedication to the field of glaucoma.”
Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, and Masayo Takahashi, MD, PhD, the 2014 Stem Cell Person of the Year, were presented The Visionary Award, honoring their pioneer work to improve global healthcare and treat blinding eye disease.
“We are honored to recognize Drs. Yamanaka and Takahashi for their ground-breaking research with stem cells and provide our donors with an opportunity to meet these two extraordinary scientists,” Brunner added.
Dr. Graves has dedicated her career to advancing innovative concepts to help patients preserve their vision. She was president and CEO of Santen Inc., the U.S. division of Japan’s largest ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, for eight years. Prior to her service at Santen, she spent nine years at Alcon Laboratories Inc., beginning in 1986 as a senior scientist and progressing through various roles, including director of international ophthalmology.
Dr. Graves currently serves as an independent director on many corporate boards, including Aerpio Therapeutics, Akorn Inc., Encore Vision Inc., Envisia Therapeutics, Nicox S.A., and TearLab Corp. She joined the GRF Board in 2009, and in 2012, she co-founded Glaucoma 360, GRF’s signature event that provides a unique forum to highlight the unmet medical needs in the field of glaucoma.
In addition to her involvement with GRF, Dr. Graves serves on many non-profit boards, including the Himalayan Cataract Project, where she has travelled to Nepal to assist in their efforts to eradicating glaucoma. She also co-founded Ophthalmic Women Leaders (OWL), which is dedicated to developing diverse leadership to advance ophthalmic innovation and patient care.
Dr. Yamanaka, senior investigator and the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in stem cell biology at the Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2012 for his discovery that adult somatic cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells. By introducing the genes for four factors that turn genes on and off, Dr. Yamanaka induced the skin cells of adult mice to become like embryonic stem cells, which he labeled as induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells. This IPS cell technology represents an entirely new platform for fundamental studies of developmental biology.
At Gladstone, he conducts research at the Roddenberry Stem Cell Center. Dr. Yamanaka is also a professor of anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, as well as the director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) and a principal investigator at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, both at Kyoto University in Japan.
Dr. Takahashi is an ophthalmologist and scientist, faculty member, and project leader at the Laboratory of Retinal Regeneration at the Center for Developmental Biology RIKEN in Kobe, Japan. In 2014, Dr. Takahashi was awarded the Stem Cell Person of the Year for her exceptional achievements in stem cell research. Her team is conducting the first IPS cell clinical study in humans. The Takahashi team clinical study examines the safety of human retinal cell product made from each patient’s own IPS cells. Her team transplanted its first macular degeneration patient in September 2014-7 years after human IPSCs were first published.
Dr. Takahashi’s achievements also include an outstanding, long-term track record in vision research, including many highly cited publications, and she has been described as a transformative and courageous stem cell scientist.