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Glaucoma Research Foundation Receives $1.5 million Gift for Collaborative Vision Restoration Initiative

Donation is the third major gift from Steve and Michele Kirsch to support collaborative glaucoma research.

SAN FRANCISCO (August 18, 2021) - Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to funding research to find a cure for glaucoma, today announced the receipt of a $1.5 million matching gift from Steve and Michele Kirsch of Los Altos Hills, California.

The gift will help fund GRF’s most recent collaborative research program, the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative which brings together an elite team of four investigators from different institutions to work together to discover novel ways to restore vision lost due to glaucoma. Launched in 2019, the consortium is exploring many promising avenues of research including optic nerve regeneration, stem cell replacement, and gene-based therapies.

To provide additional funding needed for the next phase of the consortium, the Kirsch gift will be used as a special matching opportunity to inspire other donors to support this groundbreaking work.

“Once again, we are extremely grateful to Steve and Michele,’’ said Thomas M. Brunner, GRF President and Chief Executive Officer. “Steve believes medical research should be collaborative rather than competitive, and he inspired us to establish our Catalyst for a Cure consortium nearly 20 years ago, to join forces with other research institutions to find a cure for glaucoma.”

Brunner added, “Steve and Michele also want to encourage others to join this important mission and have established the gift as a matching opportunity to provide funding of the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative for the next few years.‘’

Steve Kirsch is a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley whose ventures have included a publishing software company that was acquired by Adobe Systems Inc. and web portal Infoseek, which was acquired by the Walt Disney Co. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

Kirsch also established the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund in early 2020 to fund research into the use of repurposed drugs to treat the coronavirus. Michele Kirsch is a dedicated community leader and volunteer. She is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, California, and earned a JD from Santa Clara University.

Steve Kirsch noted that “the first Catalyst for a Cure team redefined glaucoma as a neurological disease and identified some of the very earliest changes of retinal nerve cells long before vision was actually lost. Now the third collaborative research team is focused on vision restoration which is incredibly rewarding. Since critical research is made possible through philanthropy, Michele and I are pleased to provide our gift as a matching opportunity to inspire others to invest in this important project.”

Brunner said GRF, with its funding of vital research, continues to improve outcomes for glaucoma patients. "These successful efforts, launched by Steve and Michele’s generous giving, have inspired other organizations including the National Eye Institute to fund collaborative research," Brunner said. "Most importantly, they have brought us to the threshold of vision restoration, which provides tremendous hope for patients."

Their most recent gift brings the Kirsch’s total giving to GRF to $2.7 million since 2002.

In recognition of this extraordinary gift, the research consortium will be named the Steven and Michele Kirsch Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative.

Last reviewed on November 09, 2021

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