Claire M. Gelfman, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Gelfman joined the Foundation Fighting Blindness as Chief Scientific Officer in April 2021. She is 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, she oversees the Foundation's non-clinical research portfolio, including early translational and pre-clinical research programs, and serves as the primary scientific contact with the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board, the Research Oversight Committee, academic institutions, and government science agencies.
She was previously Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development, at Adverum Biotechnologies, an ocular gene therapy company developing AAV-based treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal diseases. Prior to that, she was the Senior Director, Scientific Services/Preclinical and Translational Science at Ora, Inc., an ophthalmic contract research organization (CRO) providing pre-clinical, regulatory, and clinical trial services for companies worldwide. She designed preclinical and translational strategies and integrated them into the clinical development process for the advancement of therapeutics to treat major unmet medical needs. Prior to Ora, Dr. Gelfman spent 12 years at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals in the area of molecular genetics where she was involved in early drug target discovery using molecular, cellular, and biochemical approaches, and directed in vivo pharmacology efforts in the areas of ocular inflammation and retinal degeneration.
She received a postdoctoral fellowship grant from the National Eye Institute to study changes in gene expression in the retinal pigmented epithelium at the University of California Davis, where she also taught and mentored both undergraduate and graduate students. Her experience covers more than 20 years in drug discovery and development in ophthalmology, spanning academia, the CRO industry, and the biotechnology sector. Dr. Gelfman holds a BA in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin.