Sofia Sees Hope
Let’s Chat About … the importance of self-advocacy
In the world of rare disease, self-advocacy can be so important. But it is also overwhelming, intimidating, and scary. Tami Morehouse and Jack McCormick both have Leber congenital amaurosis due to mutations in their RPE65 gene. They joined us for a conversation about their own self-advocacy journeys.
Tami made research history when, at age 44, she participated in a clinical trial for gene therapy for LCA2 (RPE65). Ultimately, Spark Therapeutics developed the drug that was marketed as LUXTURNA® following Federal Drug Administration approval in December 2017. Tami volunteers in Sofia Sees Hope’s Family Connections program, which connects people within the LCA community to share information and provide support. She works as an information and referral specialist for 211 of Ashtabula County, Ohio.
Jack graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, in 2018. He is a passionate advocate for inclusion and accessibility on all fronts. He initially tried to hide his blindness but that all ended when he got Jake, his beloved guide dog. In college he founded Eye To Eye, a student club whose goal is to illuminate stigma associated with vision impairments. He volunteers with Fighting Blindness Canada, including working on the 2018 Young Leaders Summit. He works in human resources for a major software company.
Vice President, Clinical & Outcomes Research
Foundation Fighting Blindness
Let’s Chat About … the importance of patient registries and My Retina Tracker
Todd Durham is the Vice President, Clinical & Outcomes Research at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national non-profit that funds research to treat and cure inherited retinal diseases. In his current role, Todd is responsible for directing the Foundation’s Clinical Consortium of retinal experts, developing strategies to enhance product development, partnering with industry, and providing technical input on partnered programs and investment decisions. Todd has over 25 years of drug development experience. Prior to his current position, he contributed to research on numerous marketed products as Director of Biostatistics with IQVIA’s Real World Evidence Solutions, was a doctoral fellow with Bristol Myers Squibb, and worked in various statistical and leadership roles for Novan, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Quintiles, and as a self-employed consultant. Todd earned a BSPH and MS in biostatistics and a PhD in health policy and management (Decision Science and Outcomes Research) from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research
Let’s Chat About … why natural history and patient outcome studies matter.
Jonathan Stokes has a devoted interest in understanding and bringing to light the patient voice and perspective, with over 16 years of research study design and implementation experience. His experience is primarily in health outcomes research; specifically, the development and evaluation of clinical outcomes of assessment (COAs) for use in clinical trials intended to substantiate product labeling goals, as well as use of COAs in real world clinical practice. Areas of focus include the evaluation of cardinal signs and symptoms of disease, health-related quality of life, improvements and activation in treatment adherence, understanding unmet need, and exploring the burden of disease. Jonathan holds an MBA from Northeastern University.
Licensed Genetic Counselor and Research Study Coordinator
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Let’s Chat About … the ins and outs of genetic testing.
Emily Place graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to working at the Ocular Genomics Institute, she worked as a pediatric genetic counselor at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Emily joined the OGI in 2011, where she provides risk assessment and genetic counseling services to families with inherited retinal dystrophies. She also serves as the study coordinator for the research study of molecular genetics of inherited retinal dystrophies.
Wiley A. Chambers, MD
Supervisory Physician, Division of Ophthalmology
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Let’s Chat About … What it takes to receive approval for a new treatment for rare disease.
Wiley A. Chambers, MD, is Supervisory Physician in the Division of Ophthalmology at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After receiving an undergraduate degree from Colgate University, Dr. Chambers completed medical school and a residency in Ophthalmology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Computer Medicine at The George Washington University. He joined the FDA in 1987, as a primary reviewer for ophthalmic drug products and in 1990 became a Supervisory Medical Officer for Ophthalmologic Drug Products. In this capacity, Dr. Chambers has supervisory responsibility for the clinical review of ophthalmologic drug products and ophthalmic therapeutic biologic products submitted to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Additionally, Dr. Chambers is the recipient of numerous Public Health Service, FDA and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research awards for his work with the FDA and he has served as the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Delegate to past United States Pharmacopeia Conventions.
Senior Director, Scientific Outreach & Community Engagement
Foundation Fighting Blindness
Let’s Chat About … What’s in the therapy pipeline for Leber congenital amaurosis.
For 16 years, Ben has been reporting on retinal research for all of FFB’s electronic and print publications. In addition, he presents the latest scientific advancements at local and national events for patients and families, and conducts various training activities for staff and constituents. He enjoys working with constituents one-on-one to help them understand their retinal disease and the research underway that may benefit them. Ben also leads the company’s outreach to eye care professionals throughout the United States.
Ben has written three books – Retina Boy, Jerry’s Vegan Women, and The Vegan Monologues – all published by Loyola University (Maryland). He earned a Master of Arts in writing from Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Science in systems management from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Science in computer information science from Cleveland State University.