Our Why

Cure in Mind. Cure in Sight.

Our History

Shooting For the Moon

We were founded as the American Health Assistance Foundation in 1973, four years after humans first set foot on the moon. Back then, people spoke of taking moonshots—ambitious, inspiring, and imaginative ideas leading to significant outcomes. So, when we began, our mission mirrored this dogged determination. Our charter was to fund critical research to find cures for the most pressing health problems.

Life-Changing Breakthroughs

Our first success came by way of the artificial heart, a long-pursued holy grail of modern medicine. With donor support, we funded early research to support the artificial heart program, including the first permanent implantation of an artificial heart in 1982. Since then, we’ve funded numerous breakthroughs, including multiple Alzheimer’s diagnostic blood tests and the first Alzheimer’s blood test to come to market, the first optical diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s, a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence model to detect Alzheimer’s through retinal photographs, the go-to drug treatment for helping slow or stop vision loss in people with wet age-related macular degeneration, and laying the groundwork for a new class of glaucoma medications—discoveries that have improved millions of lives.

Funding Rising Stars

By investing in outstanding emerging scientists early in their careers, we are planting the seeds for future successes. Our funded researchers have gone on to win two separate Nobel Prizes, launch innovative companies, and discover connections between the eye and the brain that could open doors to a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

Advancing Health Equity

Alzheimer’s and other dementias, macular degeneration, and glaucoma do not affect all populations equally. We are committed to a world where every person can age free of diseases of mind and sight, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or geographic location.

Today, our perseverance toward cures remains steadfast. We are proud to fund the next generation of researchers pursuing novel, bold, and promising science for tomorrow’s cures.

Map graphic with 25 countries colored in blue where BrightFocus has supported research.
Red circle with the following text: We've funded research in 25 countries.
Red circle with the following text: We've funded the novel research for 6,000 plus early-career researchers since inception.
Red circle with the following text: We helped launch Alzheimer's research programs in 4 countries, which have funded thousands of international projects to date.

Through our three flagship research programs, we provide initial funding for high-risk, high-reward projects across the globe that have the greatest promise to change a disease's trajectory.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research

Our funded research on Alzheimer's disease leaves no stone unturned, exploring the full range of scientific paths toward better treatments and ultimately a cure for the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.

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Macular Degeneration Research

We accelerate groundbreaking research to better understand the root causes of and prevention strategies for macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over age 50 worldwide.

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National Glaucoma Research

We are one of the world’s premier nonprofit funders of research on glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Our researchers are advancing new and innovative ways of detecting and preventing this “sneak thief of sight."

Explore Research
Scientist or researcher using a microscope.

Our Impact

From the first Alzheimer’s blood test to the development of innovative drugs to slow vision loss, BrightFocus has been behind many of the most influential discoveries impacting diseases of mind and sight.

Inspired to take action?

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