Recently@Retina Newsletter May 2023

May 25, 2023


May 2023

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.


Retina Foundation Receives $1 Million Donation to Advance Ocular Stem Cell Lab

The Retina Foundation of the Southwest has received a $1 million donation to advance its ocular stem cell laboratory. Researchers will use the funding to identify personalized stem-cell based therapies and potential cures for age related macular degeneration (AMD).

The donation was provided by Jill and Grant Henderson. Grant is president of Dallas-based Talon Oil & Gas. In honor of the generous donation, the new facility will be called the Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory. The stem cell lab is led by Dr. Srinivasa Sripathi, who has served as its director since August 2022.

“The family recognized the importance of stem cell research and Dr. Sripathi as an expert,” said Dr. Karl Csaky, CEO of the Retina Foundation. “Dr. Sripathi is hoping that by examining stem cells in much more detail in the eye, we can develop very personalized treatments for patients. It’s very exciting and cutting edge.”

AMD is an eye disease that blurs central vision and is one of the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in seniors. In 2019, over 19.8 million Americans aged 40 and older were living with AMD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The global cost of visual impairment due to AMD is $343 billion, including $255 billion in indirect healthcare costs, according to the Retina Foundation.

Established in 1975, the Retina Foundation of the Southwest operates five laboratories and participates in more than 60 clinical research studies each year.

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Jill Henderson, Dr. Srinivasa Sripathi and Grant Henderson


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2023 Hunt Family

Visionary Awardee

Still Water



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Dr. Karl Csaky, Libby Hunt Allred, Ellen Ray

At the Visionary Luncheon, the Retina Foundation presented the Hunt Family Visionary Award to the Still Water Foundation for its collaboration and insight and for backing endeavors that truly impact lives in Texas. The award was presented by Libby Hunt Allred, a dedicated advocate of the Retina Foundation and the 2022 Visionary Luncheon Chair.

Mrs. Allred stated, “To accomplish anything extraordinary, it takes collaboration and a drive for innovation. The Still Water Foundation carries on a long tradition of life-changing Texas philanthropy.” Jill Wilkinson, daughter of Judy Matthews and granddaughter of Ruth and Percy Jones, established the Still Water Foundation in 1982. The Austin-based foundation primarily funds Texas organizations focused on the arts, education, the environment, spirituality, and social services. The foundation’s signature portfolio of grants benefits communities in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos regions, supporting statewide initiatives to increase access to rural broadband. The foundation is an example of how high-impact philanthropy can foster positive change in one small community and throughout the entire state. The Still Water Foundation’s support of the Retina Foundation’s patented, innovative ocular drug delivery device will impact people with vision disorders in Texas and the world.

The ocular device is tiny. It provides an effective, low-risk treatment for age related macular degeneration (AMD). The device is placed on the surface of the eye, similar to a contact lens. Medicine is delivered in a slow-release manner for up to a year, cutting back on doctor visits and eliminating the need for frequent painful injections of medication with needles. This was an important point for the Still Water Foundation’s Executive Director, Ellen Ray, who has led the Foundation for more than two decades. Ms. Ray, who oversees all philanthropic endeavors and community partnerships, said the ocular device will assist Texans living in rural communities who sometimes have to drive long distances to receive regular vision care. Ms. Ray represents Still Water Foundation as a founding member and President of the Board at Texas Rural Funders, a coalition of philanthropic organizations working to bring attention and resources to rural Texas.May 2023 Recently At Retina Newsletter Img 4

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Barbara Durham, Margot Perot, Steve Durham

The Retina Foundation of the Southwest celebrated its success in accelerating treatment efforts during its annual Visionary Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on May 18. Visionary Luncheon Chairs Steve and Barbara Durham announced that a record-breaking $709,000 was raised at the event. Over $127,000 was raised during the live luncheon’s mission moment. Douglas D. Hawthorne served as the Honorary Chair for the event.

“At the Retina Foundation, we are dedicated to finding solutions for retinal diseases and conditions that rob people of their sight, their independence and their quality of life. Our research and clinical trials are changing lives for patients today and for generations to come,” said Chief Executive and Medical Officer Karl Csaky, MD, PhD.

After sharing the latest research accomplishments, Dr. Csaky introduced the latest additions to the renowned Retina Foundation staff, Srinivasa Sripathi, PhD, and Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD. Dr. Sripathi will lead the new Henderson Ocular Stem Cell Laboratory dedicated to finding solutions for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and inherited retinal diseases through personalized medicine. Dr. Csaky thanked Jill and Grant Henderson for their generous $1 million grant to help fund the lab.

Dr. Pennesi will join David Birch, PhD, in the Foundation’s mission to change the trajectory of inherited retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. Jenny Schisler, who currently receives treatment for the disease, and her family shared their story of the challenges of living with the condition and how working with researchers at the Retina Foundation has given them hope. “Jenny’s story and stories like hers reinforce our commitment to advancing research and providing hope backed by science,” said Dr. Csaky in his closing remarks. “Today has been a true testament to the power of collaboration that drives change in innovative vision research. Together we will reach our destination.”

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert gave the keynote address and praised the Retina Foundation’s unique patient-centric approach to finding solutions for retinal diseases. He also noted the incredible growth Dallas is experiencing in the life science industry and the importance of the Foundation’s vital role in the future of public health.

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Thomas C. Leppert

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Martha and Doug Hawthorne

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The Schisler Family and Scott Murray

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

Click here to donate

Recently@Retina Newsletter May 2023

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