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Medical and Scientific Advisory Board

Medical and Scientific Advisory Board content

We have a strong and dynamic Medical and Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB). The MSAB plays a valuable role in advising the Board of Directors and its Research Sub-Committee. The group assists in appraising new grant applications and identifying international peer reviewers.

It also monitors on-going programmes and where appropriate, offers recommendations regarding research policies and strategic plans, helping the executive to ensure that the excellent quality of our research is maintained.

The MSAB is chaired by Prof Robin Ali who serves as the Chief Scientific Officer for Fighting Blindness. Members of the MSAB:

  • Prof Robin Ali (Chair)
  • Prof Joseph Carroll
  • Prof John Flannery
  • Prof Alan Stitt
  • Prof Alberto Auricchio

 

Prof Robin Ali (Chair)

Professor of Human Molecular Genetics, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London

Prof Ali is Professor of Human Molecular Genetics at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. He is also the Theme Leader for Gene Therapy at NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital and a Visiting Professor at The Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan. Until recently he was also Director of the UCL GMP vector manufacturing facility and a Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of MeiraGTx Ltd, a gene therapy company with offices in New York and London. The main focus of Robin Ali’s research is the development of gene and cell therapy for the treatment of retinal disorders.

Robin Ali and members of his team have received numerous prizes and awards for their work on developing new treatments for retinal degeneration including the Pfizer /ARVO Karl Camras Translational Award in 2010, The Alcon Research Institute Award in 2009 and The Champlimaud Vision Prize in 2018

In 2007 he was elected to the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and in 2009 appointed Senior Investigator of The UK National Institute of Health Research. He is a Past President of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and has served on the advisory boards of a number of funding bodies including the UK Medical Research Council (Neurosciences and Mental Health Board and the Regenerative Medicine Research Committee), Research to Prevent Blindness USA and Fighting Blindness Ireland, as well as the advisory boards of a number of pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Robin Ali obtained his BSc (1988) and PhD in Genetics (1993) at University College London, continued by postdoctoral training at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and established his laboratory at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in 1999.

Prof Joseph Carroll

Richard O. Schultz, MD / Ruth Works Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Prof Carroll, PhD is the Richard O. Schultz, MD / Ruth Works Professor of Ophthalmology, and Professor of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). After receiving his PhD in Cell & Developmental Biology from MCW in 2002, Prof Carroll did his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester under the guidance of Dr. David Williams. Here he developed expertise in the area of adaptive optics retinal imaging. In 2006, he joined the MCW faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Prof Carroll directs the Advanced Ocular Imaging Program (AOIP), which utilizes a variety of retinal imaging devices to study the structure and function of the living human retina with cellular resolution. The group has worked to develop novel image analysis approaches to increase the scientific and clinical utility of these imaging devices and has pioneered the dissemination of this technology to research groups around the world. Prof Carroll and his team have been at the forefront of the clinical application of adaptive optics retinal imaging, with over 135 peer-reviewed publications.

Patients from around the world travel to the program to participate in his studies on inherited retinal degenerations. His research is funded by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as a number of public and private foundations. The AOIP has a particular interest in training the next-generation of scientists – hosting visiting students to provide specialty training in retinal imaging that they can take back with them to their home laboratory.

Prof Carroll serves as an Associate Editor of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science and Visual Neuroscience, an editorial board member for Translational Vision Science and Technology and a reviewing editor for Current Eye Research. He has received numerous awards, including a Vision Research Awards from the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation (2007) and the Karl Kirchgessner Foundation (2007), a Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award (2008), a Young Investigator Award from the ALCON Research Institute (2012), ARVO Gold Fellow (2015), a Senior Investigator award from the ALCON Research Institute (2017), and the ARVO Foundation/Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award (2018).

Prof John Flannery

Professor of Neurobiology, University of California, Berkeley, USA 

Professor Flannery is Professor of Vision Science and Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular Biology in University of California, Berkeley. The expertise of his laboratory group is directed toward developing viral vectors for gene therapy and gene transfer to retinal neurons, epithelia and glia. He and his team study both normal retinal functions as well as disease states to develop rational therapeutics for retinal dystrophies.

He serves on a number of advisory boards in the United States; he is vice chairman for Foundation Fighting Blindness and is on the board of directors for the National Neurovision Research Institute. He is also a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board for Fighting Blindness in Ireland.

Prof. Flannery obtained his BA (1975) and PhD in Neuroscience (1993) at University of California, Santa Barbara and he continued his postdoctoral training at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA. In 1991, Prof. Flannery joined the faculty of the University of Florida and in 1995, he accepted his position at UC Berkeley.

Prof Alan Stitt

Director, Centre for Vision and Vascular Research, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Professor Alan Stitt is the first McCauley Chair of Experimental Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast, having been appointed in March 2001. He is the Director of the newly formed Centre for Vision & Vascular Science (CVVS) at Queen’s University Belfast.

He has published over 120 scientific papers in the inter-related areas of the biology of advanced glycation, pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy and retinal angiogenesis. This research is supported by sustained funding from a range of organisations such as the MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

In partnership with a network of national and international clinical and basic science collaborative partners, his programme of research has focused on important cellular and molecular mechanisms of retinal blood vessel dysfunction in the context of diabetes and age-related retinal disease. He holds a Royal Society Wolfson Foundation.

Prof Alberto Auricchio

Professor of Medical Genetics, Frederico II University / TIGEM, Naples, Italy

Alberto Auricchio, MD is Professor of Medical Genetics at the Department of Advanced Biomedicine, “Federico II” University in Naples, and Coordinator of the Molecular Therapy Program at Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) in Pozzuoli (NA), Italy. His research is focused on gene therapy of retinal and metabolic diseases using adeno-associated viral vectors. His group has contributed to the phase I/II clinical trial of Luxturna, the first approved gene therapy drug for an ocular disease, and to the development of gene therapy for mucopolysaccharidosis VI up to an ongoing phase I/II trial.

Prof. Auricchio is co-author of more than 130 peer-reviewed publications on international scientific journals and inventor of several international patents on the use of viral vectors for gene therapy. He is a member of the editorial boards of Molecular Therapy, EMBO Molecular Medicine and Translational Vision Science and Technology.

In 2006 Prof. Auricchio has received the Outstanding New Investigator Award of the American Society of Gene Therapy and in 2007 has been nominated “Cavaliere of the Italian Republic” by the President of the Italian Republic. In 2011 and 2016 Prof. Auricchio received the Consolidator and Advanced Grants, respectively, from the European Research Council.

 

Research Subcommittee

The research subcommittee supports Fighting Blindness strategic priority to fund and enable world-leading research into treatments and cures for blindness. Their role is to:

  • Consider the recommendations from the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) to Fighting Blindness regarding the assessment and ongoing appraisal of Fighting Blindness funded research.
  • Comment on and assist in the development of scientific initiatives in an advisory capacity to the Fighting Blindness executive.
  • Ensure adherence to, abides by and upholds all Fighting Blindness policies and procedures (eg. conflict of interest).

 

The Fighting Blindness Research Subcommittee is made up of the following members:

  • Prof Brendan Buckley (Chairman)
  • Prof David Keegan (Board of Director)
  • Ronan Holahan (Board of Director and Patient Representative)
  • Mary Lavelle (Board of Director and Patient Representative)
  • John Acton (Board of Director and Patient Representative)
  • Michael Griffith (Patient Representative)
  • Dr Ena Prosser