Dec 14, 2020

End Blindness 2020 Award Winners include Five Foundation-Funded Investigators

The Foundation in the News

Live stream ceremony will include Art Garfunkel, Diane Schuur, and Margaret Atwood. A tribute will also be made to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On December 14, 2020, at 7 p.m. EST, five Foundation-funded researchers will be awarded prizes from the Sanford and Sue Greenberg Prize to End Blindness. A total of $3 million will be given to 13 eye researchers for their pioneering research during an hour-long streamed ceremony, which will be freely accessible and open to all –- register at

Event guests will include Art Garfunkel, Margaret Atwood, Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Chris Coons, Frank Stella, and a special appearance by Grammy Award-winning jazz great Diane Schuur. The ceremony will also feature a moving tribute to late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, including footage of Justice Ginsburg reading from End Blindness co-founder Sanford D. Greenberg's memoir, 'Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.' After losing his sight at the age of 19 in 1961, Sanford made an oath to prevent blindness for all others.

Foundation-funded researchers being honored include:

Drs. Jean Bennett and Albert Maguire, both from the Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics, Department of Ophthalmology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Their pioneering work led to the development of LUXTURNA™, the first FDA-approved approved gene therapy for the eye or an inherited condition. The therapy is restoring significant vision to children and adults with severe vision loss from Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa caused by mutations in the gene RPE65.

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, Division of Experimental Retinal Therapies, Department of Clinical Sciences & Advanced Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His decades-long research with canine models of inherited retinal diseases has led to several clinical trials for emerging therapies, including LUXTURNA.

Dr. William Hauswirth, Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Florida. His groundbreaking research efforts for more than two decades were pivotal to the launch of gene therapy development for the broad spectrum of inherited retinal diseases, including the research that made LUXTURNA possible.

Dr. Botond Roska, Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel. He is currently funded by the Foundation to develop a large animal model for Stargardt disease, the world’s leading cause of inherited macular degeneration.

Other Greenberg Prize recipients include Dr. Ravindran Ravilla, Aravind Eye Care System; Dr. G. N. Rao, The L.V. Prasad Eye Institute; Dr. James Fujimoto, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. David Huang, Casey Eye Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, Oregon Health and Science University; Mr. Eric Swanson, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Zhigang He, Boston Children's Hospital F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center; Dr. Simon John, The Jackson Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University; Dr. Masayo Takahashi, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Vision Care, Inc. as part of Kobe Eye Center.