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BrightFocus Foundation Recognizes Leading Alzheimer’s, Vision Researchers at Benefit Showcasing Impact of Science

  • Press Release
Published on:
Gala honorees holding their awards.
David M. Holtzman, MD received the BrightFocus Scientific Impact Award;Sheila West, PhD, PharmD was awarded the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research; and Ilyas Washington, PhD received the BrightFocus Bench-to-Bedside Award

Updated on: June 13, 2022

Eric McCormack, actor and singer, performed a musical tribute to the legendary Gene Wilder following a documentary sneak preview of WILDER:His Life, Legacy and Battle with Alzheimer’s Disease at awards gala supporting research for diseases of mind and sight.

(June 6, 2022) Washington, D.C.—BrightFocus Foundation hosted its seventh annual gala, MIND | SIGHT | CURE: An Evening of BrightFocus, on June 9 at the National Portrait Gallery. The awards program honored exemplary scientists working with the foundation and showcased some of the world’s most exciting research to end Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Eric McCormack on stage singing into a microphone.
Eric McCormack performs “Pure Imagination” in tribute to the legendary Gene Wilder

“Now more than ever we understand the power of bold, innovative research to change lives,” said BrightFocus President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller. “We are seeing progress to defeat these devastating diseases, and are so proud to recognize some of these outstanding scientists.”

Award-winning actor and singer Eric McCormack, best known for his role as Will Truman in Will & Grace, performed a musical tribute to Gene Wilder following a sneak peak of the new documentary WILDER: His Life, Legacy, and Battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I am so honored to pay tribute to the legendary Gene Wilder and to join with BrightFocus to support their amazing research for a cure,” said McCormack.

Six leading BrightFocus-funded scientists shared their current research findings on subjects ranging from regulating inflammation to treat Alzheimer’s; to advancing initial efforts to restore sight loss from glaucoma; to developing a “personalized medicine” approach for age-related macular degeneration during a science demo prior to the awards dinner and program.

The featured researchers came from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; Houston Methodist Research Institute; Indiana University School of Medicine; Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; University of Illinois College of Medicine; and University of Southern California, Roski Eye Institute.

Awards were presented to the following scientists for their contributions to advancing cures for diseases of mind and sight:

Bench to Bedside Award. Ilyas Washington, PhD, co-founder biOOrg3.14 LLC & Alkeus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. His pioneering work led to a potential new treatment for Stargardt’s disease, an inherited condition similar to age-related macular degeneration, that received an FDA “Breakthrough Therapy” designation.

Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research. Sheila West, PhD, PharmD, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Her seminal research in Africa has helped curb preventable blindness worldwide and has shaped the WHO guidelines.

Scientific Impact Award. David M. Holtzman, MD, Washington University School of Medicine Department of Neurology. His legacy and leadership in Alzheimer’s research is the foundation for the first blood-based test for Alzheimer’s that is in use in clinical trials today.


About BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation, a leading private funder of research to end Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, is currently supporting a $65 million research portfolio of over 275 projects worldwide, providing expert information and resources about these diseases. For more information, visit


Kaci Baez
BrightFocus Foundation

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