About Us

Leadership

Omid Karkouti, MS
Founder and CEO
Omid has worked in the Life Sciences industry for over 10 years, first as a researcher and later as a business leader, and holds a M.S. in Molecular Virology from Baylor College of Medicine. As a patient advocate for a family member with retinitis pigmentosa, Omid founded Perception to bring his combined life science business and research background to bear on developing curative therapies for inherited retinal diseases.

Elizabeth Iorns, PhD
Co-founder, Board Director
Dr. Elizabeth Iorns is the Founder & CEO of Science Exchange, the Co-Director of the Reproducibility Initiative, and is a part-time partner at Y Combinator. Elizabeth has a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the Institute of Cancer Research (UK). Elizabeth has received a range of honors and recognition, including ranking as one of Nature Magazine’s ‘Ten People Who Mattered’ and one of WIRED’s ‘50 Women Who Are Changing The World’.

Advisors

Simon Petersen-Jones, DVetMed, PhD
Scientific Advisor
Dr. Simon Petersen-Jones earned his vet degree at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK, completed his four-year residency in ophthalmology at the Royal Veterinary College, and in 1995 became a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

Dr. Petersen-Jones has worked as head of the Ophthalmology Service at University of Edinburgh, and was later a Wellcome Trust Veterinary Research Career Development Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK where he was awarded a PhD for his research into hereditary retinal diseases in dogs. He has been on the faculty at Michigan State University since 1998.

Dr. Petersen-Jones has received numerous awards for his contributions to veterinary science for his research achievements. He is co-editor of Small Animal Ophthalmology, the world’s best-selling veterinary ophthalmology text, and the BSAVA “Manual of Small Animal Ophthalmology – A Problem Oriented Approach.” He has written numerous book chapters and scientific articles on different aspects of veterinary ophthalmology and lectured in many countries around the world.

William Hauswirth, PhD
Scientific Advisor
Dr. William Hauswirth received his B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University and his Ph.D in Physical Chemistry from Oregon State University.  After an NIH Fellowship in the Biochemistry Department at Johns Hopkins University, he joined that department as an Assistant Professor.  In 1976, he joined the faculty of Molecular Genetics and in 1985 the Ophthalmology faculty at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Dr. Hauswirth’s research team at UF focuses on developing Adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies for the treatment of ocular disease. His group specializes in developing and then testing these therapies in animal models of retinal degeneration. The gene vector platform, AAV, has been shown to be safe and effective in human clinical trials of Leber Congenital Amaurosis type 2 (LCA2) a form of childhood retinal disease. Dr. Hauswirth’s research was instrumental in the lead up to the LCA2 clinical trials. He and collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania undertook one of the ground breaking clinical trials. He and his team continue to develop AAV vectors with the goal of future clinical trials for other retinal degenerative diseases.

Trevor McGill, PhD
Scientific Advisor
Dr. Trevor McGill received his Ph.D. from the University of Lethbridge in 2008 and subsequently joined the Casey Eye Institute at OHSU as a post doctoral fellow. In 2011, Dr. McGill joined the faculty at the Casey Eye Institute as Research Assistant Professor. Dr. McGill’s lab uses both rodent and nonhuman primate models of Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-related Macular Degeneration to aid in the translation of cell-based and gene therapies for retinal degenerative disease into clinical trials.

Brian Mansfield, PhD
Scientific Advisor
Dr. Brian Mansfield received an honors degree in physical chemistry from Canterbury University, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and did post-doctoral training in molecular genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with Nobel Laureate Professor Dr. Daniel Nathans.

Dr. Mansfield joined the Foundation Fighting Blindness in 2011 as the deputy chief research officer. He ensures implementation of the Foundation’s research strategic plan and is responsible for the My Retina Tracker patient registry program, a comprehensive database of genetic testing and correlative clinical data of registry participants with inherited retinal diseases. This program uniquely provides no-cost genetic testing and genetic counseling to participants enrolled in the registry.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Mansfield was the vice president for research and development for Correlogic Systems, Inc., a biotechnology company developing technology for the early detection and diagnosis of cancer. Prior to that role, Dr. Mansfield spent five years as a senior scientist in protein development at Human Genome Sciences, Inc. Before joining HGSI, Dr. Mansfield spent 12 years as a tenured professor of eukaryotic genetics at Massey University, New Zealand and three years as a visiting professor at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

Michael Keherly, PhD
Scientific Advisor

Dr. Michael Keherly received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he also served as Assistant Professor in the Division of Neurosurgery, and later on as the Assistant Director of the Brain and Tissue Bank.

Dr. Keherly first moved into industry as Director of BioDiscovery in the UTMB spin-out company Chrysalis Biotechnology, where he was responsible for the development of  peptide-based therapeutics for infectious disease, cardiovascular, and oncology therapy areas. He then spent 10 years at Ricerca Biosciences managing Quality Assurance for GLP pre-clinical research.

Since 2016, Dr. Keherly has conceived, developed and launched the quality management program for the research outsourcing platform Science Exchange, where he is Director of Regulatory Affairs and is responsible for the approval of vendors providing services that are compliant and in accordance with federal regulations and industry standards, including GCP, GLP, cGMP.