BrightFocus Foundation

Cure in Mind. Cure in Sight.

aka Alzheimer's Disease Research, Macular Degeneration Research, and National Glaucoma Research   |   CLARKSBURG, MD   |  www.brightfocus.org

Mission

BrightFocus funds exceptional scientific research worldwide to defeat Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma and provides expert information on these heartbreaking diseases.

Ruling year info

1974

President and CEO

Mrs. Stacy Haller

Main address

22512 GATEWAY CENTER DR

CLARKSBURG, MD 20871 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

American Health Assistance Foundation

EIN

23-7337229

NTEE code info

Alzheimer's (H83)

Eye (H41)

Eye Diseases, Blindness and Vision Impairments (G41)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BrightFocus is leading the fight against the devastating conditions we fear most: loss of mind and loss of sight.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Alzheimer's Disease Research

Every 65 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer's disease. It is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions. It eventually leads to death from complete brain failure. More than five million Americans age 65 and older are thought to have Alzheimer’s disease. The human and economic costs of the Alzheimer’s epidemic are staggering. Each year a half million Americans hear the diagnosis: "you have Alzheimer’s disease.” By 2050, the number of Americans with this disease may increase to more than 15 million, and the costs to Medicare—if not already bankrupted by it—could exceed a trillion dollars.

BrightFocus' Alzheimer's Disease Research (ADR) program seeks to avert this tidal wave by funding research worldwide to end this tragic disease. We are also committed to fully informing the public, those directly impacted and their caregivers, about this disease by offering updates on the latest research, as well as risk factors, prevention, and coping strategies. Since 1985, ADR has awarded nearly $140 million to support promising research in fields ranging from molecular biology to epidemiology.

ADR is currently supporting 133 biomedical research projects, after awarding 53 grants in 2020.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Glaucoma relates to a group of eye disorders that have few symptoms in their early stages but that eventually result in damage to the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibers that carries information from the eye to the brain). Glaucoma can lead to loss of side vision and eventually to complete blindness. More than 3 million Americans are living with glaucoma; half do not know it.

BrightFocus National Glaucoma Research (NGR)  funds research on and educates the public about glaucoma. Since the program's inception in 1978, NGR has awarded nearly $40 million to support basic research into the causes and potential approaches to prevention and treatments of this disease.

NGR is currently supporting 32 biomedical research projects, after awarding 13 grants in 2019.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People with vision impairments

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an irreversible destruction of the central area of the eye’s retina (the macula), which leads to loss of the sharp, fine-detail, "straight-ahead” vision required for activities like reading, driving, recognizing faces, and seeing the world in color. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older and is the second-highest cause of irreversible blindness in the world. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of macular degeneration, a number expected to double by 2050.

BrightFocus' Macular Degeneration Research (MDR) program funds research on and informs the public about age-related macular degeneration. Since the program's inception in 1997, MDR has granted nearly $35 million supporting basic research into the causes of and potential treatments for this incurable disease.

MDR is currently supporting 47 biomedical research projects, after awarding 22 grants in 2020.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People with vision impairments

Where we work

Accreditations


Since 2009

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2016

HONCode 2000

Awards

Seal of Excellence 2010

Maryland Nonprofits' Standards for Excellence

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Families, People with vision impairments

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of actively managed science projects

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Families, People with vision impairments

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total dollar amount of actively managed science projects

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Families, People with vision impairments

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Families, People with vision impairments

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

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

BrightFocus supports promising new research to slow, prevent, treat, and ultimately end three diseases affecting mind and sight: Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. These diseases currently have no cure and impact one out of every 16 Americans over age 40.

Importantly, we provide public information on the diseases, which includes the latest knowledge gained from research; health information; and advocacy to raise awareness about the diseases' human, social, and financial impact on our communities, our nation, and the world.

We support bold, promising research, acting as a catalyst for scientists to pursue innovative ideas that push the frontiers of discovery. These are the ideas that may transform our understanding of these diseases and accelerate the path to treatments and a cure. Much of the work we supports occurs earlier in the scientific pipeline, where other sources of funding can be scarce. We are a trusted source information, sharing the latest research updates and helpful tips with families impacted by these diseases. We deliver this information through a series of free print materials and digitally through our website, BrightFocus.org, our growing social media communities, and an array of audio and video products. BrightFocus works closely with nonprofit and corporate partners on issues of common concern. As a respected member of broad coalitions, we communicate with key policymakers and elected officials on the importance of research funding and caregiving support.

BrightFocus has a strong track record of being a consistent source of early-stage research support. We have awarded nearly $225 million in research funding to date on diseases of mind and sight. This support has funded research across the U.S. and in 25 other countries across the globe. We ensure the high quality of research proposals through our rigorous peer review involving world-class, renowned scientists and clinicians that results in identifying and supporting the science with the best potential to succeed. In fact, the return on our investment is that most BrightFocus-funded researchers go on to receive ten times the amount of their initial BrightFocus grant from larger funding sources including the National Institutes of Health.

Accomplishments

BrightFocus has steadily increased the funding of our research awards, nearly $47 million in the last three years alone, and increased the size and scope of BrightFocus public education and engagement, as described above.

• We continue to increase the amount of funding available for high-impact investigator-initiated research. Since inception BrightFocus has supported more than 1625 research projects for a total of nearly $225 million.

• Beyond the success of our core programs, we have expanded our reach of support to science by developing a strategic funding mechanism to target specific initiatives with more immediate benefits. Examples include a first-ever crowdsourced citizen science project to analyze Alzheimer’s research data, clinical trials to test FDA-approved drugs from other diseases, and asking what “big data" can reveal about how our bodies resist Alzheimer's disease.

• Our public awareness efforts share important messages via television and radio public service announcements and through digital engagement campaigns. BrightFocus serves as a presentation partner for an acclaimed documentary “Turning Point” about Alzheimer’s clinical trials to raise awareness and increase participation in research for the cure. We have increased our participation and influence in Washington-based coalitions that advocate for greater federal support for research.

Still to be Accomplished

• Although our research funding is at an all-time high with a current portfolio of more than $52 million supporting 225 ongoing projects, and collaboration with advocacy coalitions has been fruitful, BrightFocus and other like-minded organizations have still not ended Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. And despite progress in public awareness of these diseases, and greater participation in clinical trials, collectively we have still not removed the stigma associated with these three diseases, and with Alzheimer's in particular. More financial support from foundations, government, and industry are needed to defeat these diseases of mind and sight.

• In advocacy, we must work to increase our nation's commitment and level of research funding to end these diseases. That will take the building of a substantial public network to advocate for increased federal funding. When scientists cannot get the resources they need to move forward, this delays discovery, treatments, and a potential cure for people with diseases of mind and sight.

Despite these challenges, BrightFocus Foundation has hope—based on the brilliance of our funded scientists and the commitment of our donors and advocates—that we will one day end these diseases of mind and sight.

Financials

BrightFocus Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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BrightFocus Foundation

Board of directors
as of 1/1/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Patricia Stewart, CFP®

J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc., retired

Term: 2020 -


Board co-chair

Cecilia Arradaza

Wondros

Term: 2020 -

Brian Regan, PhD

New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Healthcare System

Stanley Prusiner, MD

University of California, San Francisco

Maddy Dychtwald

Age Wave

Ethan Treese

Nuix

Jan Stouffer, PhD

DuPont Company, retired

Scott Kaiser, MD

Motion Picture & Television Fund/ Pacific Brain Health Center

Eric Siemers, MD

Siemers Integration LLC

Celia Arradaza

C.A. Collaborative

Shawna Gottlieb

Cummins Behavioral Health Systems

Tonya Matthews, PhD

Wayne State University

Scott Rodgville, CPA

Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/21/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data