Recently@Retina Newsletter April 2024

April 26, 2024

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April 2024

The mission of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest is to prevent vision loss and restore sight through innovative research and treatment for pediatric eye conditions, inherited eye diseases, and age-related macular degeneration.


April 2024 Recentlyretina Newsletter Img 01A Message


Dr. Karl Csaky



Reflecting on the past month, it’s clear that we’ve embarked on a journey marked by significant milestones and unforgettable experiences.

At the Launch Party hosted by Donna and Lou Grabowsky, we proudly unveiled our ambitious $1M Visionary Luncheon goal, setting the stage for a year of impactful initiatives and groundbreaking achievements. This announcement not only underscores our commitment to pushing boundaries but also signals our unwavering dedication to advancing the frontiers of vision research.

We began commemorating the first year of stem-cell research at the Foundation with “meet the scientist” experiences and Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory tours. Our efforts to expand clinical trials for inherited retinal diseases have also gained momentum, amplifying our capacity to translate scientific discoveries into treatments and interventions.

Against the backdrop of these achievements, we were privileged to witness the awe-inspiring totality of the solar eclipse. As we marveled at this celestial spectacle, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the journey of our patients grappling with progressive vision loss. Just as the eclipse captivated our attention and stirred our emotions, the onset of darkness during vision loss halts the plans and aspirations of those affected, underscoring the urgency of our mission.

As we gear up for our upcoming annual fundraiser, I implore each of you to reflect on the profound impact of our collective efforts. By supporting the research endeavors at the Retina Foundation, you’re not only investing in cutting-edge science but also in the lives of millions worldwide who are affected by visual impairments.

Together, let’s rally behind our cause, to make a lifetime of good vision a reality for everyone.

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Visionary Luncheon

Launch Party

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The Retina Foundation, international medical destination for innovative clinical research and treatment, held a Launch Party, where Tom Luce, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Texas 2036 and Chief Operating Officer of Biotech Initiatives of Lyda Hill Philanthropies was announced as the Honorary Chair of the 2024 Visionary Luncheon.

Co-Chairs Jennifer and Bill Voss announced the $1 million fundraising goal. They are also the presenting sponsors for the luncheon through their $100,000 gift. Donations enable the Retina Foundation to provide care at no charge for patients with lifealtering retinal diseases and disorders.

“Jennifer and I have accepted the challenge to raise $1 million for the 2024 Visionary Luncheon, and we are more than halfway there,” said Voss. “The more support we can give the Retina Foundation, the more quickly we can uncover tangible solutions to age-related macular degeneration, inherited retina diseases and pediatric disorders.”

Luce added, “We need to reach our goal to continue the wonderful work of the Retina Foundation. We need more organizations like the Retina Foundation that provide free care to make sure everybody gets the care they need when they need it, where they need it, and how they need it. The Retina Foundation is a wonderful example of that.”

In addition to Luce and Voss, speakers at the kickoff event included Dr. Karl Csaky, CEO/CMO for the Retina Foundation; Lou Grabowsky, Board Chair for the Retina Foundation; Brad Wolken, a Retina Foundation patient; Doug Hawthorne, Honorary Chair for the 2023 Visionary Luncheon; and Barbara and Steve Durham, Event Chairs for the 2023 Visionary Luncheon.

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Visionary Chairs, Jennifer and Bill Voss

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Honorary Chair, Tom Luce



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Early Supporters Tour Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory Around its One-Year Anniversary

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The Retina Foundation welcomed our partners in research, Michael Vanderslice, Vicki Vanderslice, and Pam King from The Theodore and Beulah Beasley Foundation. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have them tour our labs and for us to showcase the retinal stem cell work being accomplished. The Beasley Foundation’s support has been instrumental, marking the first foundation grant received to further the research in the Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory. With their continued support, we are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in ocular stem cell research, bringing us one step closer to transformative breakthroughs in vision science.

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The Henderson family also took a tour of the Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory. Reflecting on the advancements made during the lab’s inaugural year, it’s clear that none of it would have been possible without the incredible support of the Henderson family and their generous naming gift. Their gift has not only provided crucial resources but has also served as a beacon of inspiration, propelling us forward in our mission to transform the landscape of vision science. As we continue to explore new frontiers in ocular health, the Retina Foundation is grateful to the Henderson family’s unwavering support and dedication to our cause.

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1st Class Researcher Launches 1st POLARIS Trial

The first clinical trial begun under Dr. Mark Pennesi’s coordination at the Retina Foundation was successfully launched. Splice Bio sent a big thanks from their team, “for achieving our first subject for POLARIS study, and our first for the company! The collaboration and organization for site setup and first patient enrolled has been first class.

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Site of the Year

The Retina Foundation has been recognized as the 2023 Site of the Year by the JAEB Center’s Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Consortium. A total of 48 clinical centers, 29 in the US, participate in a combined effort to accelerate the development of treatments for inherited retinal diseases. According to the website, site selection is based on:

  • Training and experience of principal- or co-investigators
  • Availability and experience of a designated primary coordinator
  • Training and experience of key technicians/photographers
  • Availability of equipment
  • Access to patients with IRDs

These “centers of excellence” use standardized protocols to collect clinical information, increasing data robustness. Investigators collaborate on hypotheses, study designs, analysis plans and publications. Once trials are completed, the de-identified data is added to an open central repository to further hypothesis generation and innovation.


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The Retina Foundation is typically the first to be contacted for upcoming clinical trial enrollment. The comprehensive patient data archived in our Southwest Eye Registry can be accessed quickly facilitating ease of enrollment. We rely on donations from private foundations and individuals to maintain this repository and bio-bank.



Thanks to support from individuals like you, the Retina Foundation is a world leader in research for pediatric eye conditions, inherited retinal diseases, and age-related macular degeneration. The Retina Foundation’s research remains as critical as ever. We continue to work on developing potential treatments for patients with various eye diseases through laboratory science and clinical trials.


Please help the Retina Foundation continue leading research and saving sight.


Recently@Retina Newsletter April 2024

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