Foundation Fighting Blindness appoints Claire M. Gelfman, PhD as Chief Scientific Officer

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Foundation Fighting Blindness, the world’s leading organization committed to finding treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases, announces that it has appointed Claire M. Gelfman, Ph.D. as chief scientific officer. In her new role, Dr. Gelfman will be responsible for leading the overarching scientific strategy for the organization with a focus on research initiatives designed to accelerate new treatments and cures for inherited retinal diseases. 

Additionally, Dr. Gelfman will oversee the Foundation’s non-clinical research portfolio, including early translational and pre-clinical research programs. She will also serve as the primary scientific contact with the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, the Research Oversight Committee, academic institutions, and government science agencies. 

Dr. Gelfman received her undergraduate degree in biology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis, she held various research and development positions in academia and industry at the cross-section of ophthalmology and molecular genetics. Dr. Gelfman brings over 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development, and gene therapy approaches in both biotechnology companies and contract research organizations. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as vice president, pharmaceutical development at Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc. in California. Among her many qualifications, Dr. Gelfman’s extensive experience evaluating novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of human retinal diseases will be of significant benefit to the Foundation. 

“I am excited to bring my extensive industry experience in ophthalmology research and development to the non-profit sector,” said Dr. Gelfman, newly appointed chief scientific officer. “It is an honor to join the Foundation Fighting Blindness community, and I look forward to furthering its urgent mission to fund innovative research and develop novel treatments for patients affected by blinding retinal diseases.” 

Before Adverum Biotechnologies, Dr. Gelfman served as senior director, scientific services/preclinical and translational science at Ora Inc. and principal scientist, department of ophthalmology at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 

“It is with great excitement that we welcome Dr. Gelfman as the newest member of our Fighting Blindness team. Her proven ability to successfully manage cross-functional teams of scientists and business professionals will be among the many assets she brings to the organization,” said chief executive officer, Ben Yerxa, Ph.D. “Among her many standout qualities are Dr. Gelfman’s impressive educational background, longstanding tenure in the field of ophthalmology, and thorough understanding of preclinical development efforts. We are fortunate to have her on board to lead some of the most significant initiatives the Foundation Fighting Blindness is spearheading.” 

About the Foundation Fighting Blindness 
Established in 1971, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is the world’s leading private funding source for retinal degenerative disease research. The Foundation has raised more than $816 million toward its mission of accelerating research for preventing, treating, and curing blindness caused by the entire spectrum of blinding retinal diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and Usher syndrome. Visit FightingBlindness.org for more information. 

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