Press Release

Leading Scientists and Advocates Recognized by BrightFocus Foundation

Celebrates Outstanding Efforts to Defeat Alzheimer’s and Vision Diseases

Honorees from left: Brenda Gallie, MD, FRCSC, A. Linn Murphree, MD, Rachel Bennett, PhD, Thaddeus Dryja, MD, and James Keach. BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller is second from the right.
Honorees from left: Brenda Gallie, MD, FRCSC, A. Linn Murphree, MD, Rachel Bennett, PhD, Thaddeus Dryja, MD, and James Keach. BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller is second from the right.

Washington, DCBrightFocus Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit, hosted an awards dinner on June 6 at Washington National Cathedral, to honor leading researchers and advocates working to help end diseases of mind and sight.

“Tonight’s honorees best embody the mission of BrightFocus, boldly advancing the science and awareness to defeat Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma,” said President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller. 

Featured guests and performers included Master of Ceremonies Richard Lui, journalist and news anchor for MSNBC and NBC News. Special Guest was Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View and Senior Legal Correspondent for ABC News. Musicians Julian Raymond, Bennett Salvay, and Jimmy Webb gave a special performance.

Receiving awards:

James Keach, Director, Producer, and Actor/PCH Films, received the BrightFocus Public Leadership Award, for his films exploring Alzheimer’s disease and the search for a cure.

Four scientists received the prestigious Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research, selected by a committee of the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education, for the scientists’ collaboration on the first human cancer suppression gene. They are:

  • Webster Cavenee, PhD, University of California—San Diego;
  • Thaddeus Dryja, MD, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary;
  • Brenda Gallie, MD, University of Toronto;
  • Linn A. Murphree, MD, University of Southern California.

Rachel Bennett, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, was recognized as an Emerging Researcher.

Six scientists funded by BrightFocus grants shared their latest findings, on subjects ranging from the study of brain circulation and Alzheimer’s disease, to targeting inflammation as a new way to treat glaucoma, and connecting diet to gut bacteria and eye health. The featured scientists came from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Tufts University, University of California—San Francisco, University of Pennsylvania, and Weill Cornell Medical College.

BrightFocus funds nearly 200 projects around the globe, a $40 million investment that the foundation believes will one day end these diseases. “These scientists are relentless in pursuing the untried, the unexpected, and the most promising paths toward cures,” says Haller.

BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier source of private research funding to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.  We support bold, innovative science and share the latest research findings and best practices to empower families impacted by these diseases.   For more information, visit

This content was first posted on: June 7, 2018

Contact Information

Michael Buckley, Vice President of Public Affairs
BrightFocus Foundation
Phone: (301) 556-9370; Email:

Alice L. Kirkman, Marketing and Communications Manager
BrightFocus Foundation
Phone: (301) 556-9349; Email:

The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

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