2019: Looking Forward

SriniVas Sadda, MD

President & Chief Scientific Officer

January 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This year in vision science we expect more breakthroughs and new collaborations – all pointing toward hope for our patients. Research, experimenting and ultimately unlocking cures is our mission, and we diligently work with you, and for you, to accomplish that every day at Doheny.

One exciting and now, controversial, advance has been in gene editing. In a message a few months ago, I mentioned the promise of the CRISPR method, and now I’d like to say a bit more. As you know, at Doheny we approach our work with top-tier faculty, in state-of-the-art facilities, adhering diligently to the scientific and ethical standards of the medical community. That is our approach to all of our work, and remains so, even and especially, as very new techniques and technologies become available to us.

If you’ve read or heard about the “CRISPR babies” born in China, you may know that their mother’s doctor claims to have edited the genes of their embryos, and that may be true. If it is true, this doctor may have failed to comply with the basic ethical and scientific guidelines we hold dear, and which ensure the safety and sanctity of human life.

The babies were born healthy, but, it is the view of the medical community here in the US, starting at the National Institutes of Health, that no doctor should act alone to perform these untested genetic manipulations. Rather, we believe in and adhere to the most rigorous testing in the world before any humans have the opportunity to undergo innovative procedures, even those we know could be sight saving. For those whose vision is limited by Leber’s congenital amarousis (LCA), Stargardt’s disease, juvenile AMD, and possibly many other diseases, the promise of gene-based therapies is very real – in the case of one form of LCA, such gene therapy is already available.

We are unlocking cures very carefully at Doheny. Last year brought us momentous advances, and in looking ahead to 2019, I am confident that you can join me cheering the accelerated pace of discoveries in vision science.

With compassion, concern, and expertise, we offer you hope, and the continued promise to make you our priority.

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