COLUMBIA, Md., Aug. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Foundation Fighting Blindness, the world's largest private funder of early, translational and clinical-stage research for inherited, blinding retinal diseases – which affect more than 10 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide – today announced that its Gordon and Llura Gund Family Challenge has raised more than $109 million in new funding for retinal disease research, exceeding its goal by $9 million.
In support of their relentless pursuit to end blindness, Foundation Co-Founder Gordon Gund and his wife, Llura, launched the gift matching challenge in June of 2014 with a goal of raising $100 million to accelerate research for retinal degenerative diseases. Through the two-year challenge, the Gunds have provided unlimited, dollar-for-dollar matches for all new or increased gifts to the Foundation of at least $25,000. The success of the Challenge will allow the Foundation to dramatically increase funding for advanced pre-clinical research and clinical trials that will continue to advance sight-preserving and restoring treatments.
"It is with immense gratitude that my wife Lulie and I express our sincere thanks to the more than 200 donors who made our dream of raising well over $100 million a reality. Their generosity will make it possible for the incredible research advances made in recent years to continue on an accelerated basis to unlock the answers we need to cure retinal diseases," said Foundation Fighting Blindness Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus Gordon Gund.
The Foundation Fighting Blindness was established more than 45 years ago, when very little was known about retinal degenerative diseases and no clinical trials existed for potential treatments. Today, thanks in large part to Foundation Fighting Blindness funding, there are 20 clinical trials underway for emerging vision-saving therapies including gene, stem cell, medical and nutritional therapies.
"We will now embark on the careful work of determining the research projects the Challenge funding will support, using a peer review vetting process led by our Research Oversight Committee," said Dr. Stephen Rose, chief research officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. "The incredible success of the match program will allow us to increase the size and scope of our research portfolio, including in promising emerging therapies such as gene and stem cell treatments."
The generous donations behind the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Challenge will continue to bring promising treatments to the marketplace and someday provide a cure for rare retinal diseases. All donations will be directly allocated to broader, cross-cutting advanced research in areas such as gene, stem cell or drug development therapies, allowing the Foundation to support the most promising research, no matter the format or target disease.
"This new funding makes Lulie and me even more confident that blindness caused by inherited retinal diseases will be a thing of the past within the next two decades," said Gund.
After an extraordinary 45 year legacy culminating with the Challenge's success, Gund stepped down as Chairman on July 1. As part of the Foundation's leadership succession plan, David Brint was elected Chairman, with Gund remaining an active member of the Foundation's Board of Directors, Research Oversight Committee and the Board of the Foundation's subsidiary, the Clinical Research Institute.
About Foundation Fighting Blindness
The Foundation Fighting Blindness was established in 1971. Since that time, it has raised over $700 million to support research to prevent and treat blindness caused by retinal disease. Over 10 million Americans, and millions more worldwide, have vision loss due to retinal degeneration. Through its support of focused and innovative science, the Foundation drives the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and other inherited retinal diseases.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/foundation-fighting-blindness-announces-over-109-million-raised-for-inherited-retinal-disease-research-300307427.html
SOURCE Foundation Fighting Blindness