Recently@Retina Newsletter January 2024

January 26, 2024


January 2024 Recentlyretina Newsletter Img 01


January 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.


A New Year’s Message from Dr. Karl Csaky

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As the new year unfurls, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on 2023 and envision what 2024 brings. We embarked on a significant, transformational change this year with the opening of the Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory at the Retina Foundation with trials already underway investigating attributes of age-related macular degeneration unique to individual patients.

Our momentum increased with the recruitment of Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD, FARVO as Director of Ophthalmic Genetics. Dr. Pennesi will work alongside Dr. David Birch to expand our world-class center of excellence in inherited degenerative retinal diseases.

As Dallas becomes the prominent center for life sciences, the Retina Foundation has made North Texas a world-renowned destination for unparalleled patient-centric vision research. I am very grateful to our researchers, our patients and their families, and our supporters who have been integral to the achievement of many amazing milestones – our research is world-class because of you.

We are on an accelerated course to save vision. I look forward to advancing this year’s journey with you. Together, we will lead research and save sight.March 2024 Recentlyretina Newsletter (1) Img 01

Thank You Year End

Year End Photo

The past year was filled with significant achievements vital for the Retina Foundation to remain at the forefront of research to save sight. As 2023 began, our Chief Executive and Medical Officer, Dr. Karl Csaky was named as a finalist for Outstanding Healthcare Innovator for D CEO’s 2023 Excellencein Healthcare Awards. As a vitreoretinal specialist and expert in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Dr. Csaky leads the Retina Foundation’s mission to provide innovative and patient-focused solutions in less time than traditional research institutions to preserve and restore vision. Dr. Csaky is focused on cutting-edge research to make breakthroughs and discover personalized treatment solutions through gene therapy, state-ofthe-art stem cell research and clinical studies for numerous novel therapies.

Innovative and brilliant scientist, Srinivasa R. Sripathi, PhD, was appointed Director of the new Henderson Ocular Stem-Cell Laboratory. Dr. Sripathi is working to uncover why cells become sick and die of AMD and other diseases and, most importantly, how to slow down the degeneration process with a personalized treatment approach. The initial sibling pair was enrolled in a first-of-its-kind investigation of why one sibling has AMD and the other does not, even though both have the genetic factor for the disease.

Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD, FARVO joined the Retina Foundation as Director of Ophthalmic Genetics, coming from the Casey Eye Institute in Portland. One of the nation’s experts in inherited retinal diseases (IRD), Dr. Pennesi brings his groundbreaking research to Dallas, focusing on expanding clinical trials to include more patients nationwide. These trials targeting rare ocular diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease, spotlight gene editing and gene therapy to find new solutions and treatments.

We were thrilled to announce that Naomi Emmett, MBA has joined the Retina Foundation as the new Chief Financial Officer and Chief Business Officer (CFO/CBO). With 15 years of experience overseeing financial matters and business functions for some of North Texas’ most esteemed universities, Naomi brings a wealth of expertise to our team. Her extensive knowledge, financial prowess and leadership skills make her a perfect fit for the Retina Foundation. We are confident that her strategic vision and commitment to excellence will help guide our organization and elevate the Retina Foundation as the leading medical destination for research solutions that could save or restore vision for millions.

In the fall, we were honored to host the first Immersive Experience for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) Dallas’ new federal biotechnology hub. Karl Csaky, MD, PhD provided great insight on the agility and success that smaller medical research institutions like the Retina Foundation have in overcoming typical barriers to life-changing clinical trials. We look forward to supporting this important work, which is elevating Texas and Dallas as the center of excellence in life sciences. After completing its immersive information gathering, Advancing Clinical Trial Readiness will fund efforts to increase clinical trial access, opening the door to more patients for new treatments and solutions discovered during these trials.

The Retina Foundation is grateful for your generous contributions. You helped make 2023 a remarkable year for the Retina Foundation! We look forward to the many exciting things to come in 2024! Thank you.



January 2024 Recentlyretina Newsletter

Introductory Message from Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD, FARVO Director of Ophthalmic Genetics

I am delighted to return to my home state of Texas and the Retina Foundation where I was an intern as a college student. I have spent the past 20 years building one of the largest clinical trial centers for inherited retinal degenerations in Oregon. I now look forward to expanding the already excellent program at the Retina Foundation with the goal of providing the latest trials and therapies for these diseases at no cost to our patients. It is a very exciting time as novel technologies such as artificial intelligence, gene therapy, optogenetics and stem cells are converging to offer new strategies for treatment of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt dystrophy, and other genetic disorders.

Photout Southwestern Medical Center Group

Photo Ut Southwestern Medical Center Research

Provided Personalized Treatment Options


Dr. Srinivasa Sripathi Presents Retina Foundation Ocular Stem Cell Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center

As experts and world-class leaders in their field, our physicians and researchers are often asked to present their work to help educate others in the industry. Dr. Srinivasa Sripathi, Director of the Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory, shared his latest research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He was joined by Diane Boddy, who is participating in a groundbreaking study with Dr. Sripathi focused on genetics and AMD. What a great way to kick off the New Year!


Retina Foundation an Official Spoke for ARPA-H Customer Experience Hub


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We are honored that the Retina Foundation has been named as an official Spoke for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health(ARPA-H) Customer Experience Hub. This important designation enables our world-renowned team of retinal disease experts to work alongside others in the ARPA-H network to accelerate healthcare solutions for patients across the country. As the global medical destination for retinal disease research, we look forward to collaborating and sharing how the Retina Foundation’s unique environment allows for streamlined clinical trials to advance new solutions and treatments for those experiencing vision loss.



Visionary Lunch



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 the development of 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 January 2024

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