Jul 16, 2018

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Appoints Russell Kelley as Vice President, Investments and Alliances

Press Releases

Dr. Kelley brings more than 25 years of experience in developing, identifying, and advancing life science technologies to this leadership role at FFB

COLUMBIA, MD – July 16, 2018 – The Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) has appointed Russell Kelley, PhD, MBA, as vice president, investments & alliances. Dr. Kelley will be responsible for identifying, coordinating, and managing all external investment opportunities that strategically align with FFB’s mission. He will also lead and manage FFB’s partnerships and collaborations.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is the world’s leading private source of research funding for preventions, treatments, and cures for retinal degenerative diseases. FFB has raised more than $725 million since its inception in 1971 to support the discovery and advancement of promising therapies for inherited retinal diseases and age-related macular degeneration.    

Dr. Kelley was a senior program officer with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, where he developed and led multiple advisory boards for identifying and funding gaps in interdisciplinary science and translational medicine. He worked closely with the BWF Board and senior leadership at the National Academy of Sciences, the FDA, and private and public funders to identify and address underserved matters of national importance. 

Prior to that role, Dr. Kelley was director and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine, at Tengion, where he helped develop a cell and tissue-based engineering platform for the regenerative medicine company. He was also a lead steward of a broad intellectual property portfolio and regulatory dossier submissions in the U.S. and Europe, and participated in securing private financing.

“Rusty brings outstanding experience and expertise in translational research funding and novel therapy development to his leadership role at FFB,” said Benjamin Yerxa, PhD, chief executive officer at FFB. “It takes a special set of skills and knowledge to make strategic investments in emerging retinal disease therapies. We are confident that Rusty’s talents will help us move more sight-saving therapies into clinical trials and out to the people who need them.”

“I am delighted to join the Foundation Fighting Blindness at this exciting juncture in retinal disease therapy development,” said Dr. Kelley. “There has been a tremendous surge in clinical research for the retina over the past decade. I am privileged to have the opportunity to leverage that momentum to help FFB advance the best emerging opportunities into FDA-approved treatments and cures.”

Dr. Kelley earned a bachelor of arts in chemistry at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.  He was an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellow at UNC Chapel Hill in Dr. Cam Patterson’s cardiovascular biology and translational genomics lab, and recently earned an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

The mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is to drive the research that will bring an end to the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt disease, and Usher syndrome. These conditions affect more than 10 million people in the US and 150 million people worldwide. In addition to funding research at prominent academic labs, FFB is partnering with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to advance emerging therapies into and through clinical trials and out to the people who need them. The Foundation has launched a global patient registry, www.MyRetinaTracker.org, to build knowledge of retinal diseases and advance clinical research. Visit www.FightingBlindness.org for the latest information on retinal disease research. Follow the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: Ben Shaberman
(410) 499-9158

Original Date:

Monday, July 16, 2018