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Vision Biotech Firm Changes Name

The company focuses on gene therapy.

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Ophthotech Corp., a biotech company focused on diseases of the eye, announced that it is changing its name to IVERIC bio Inc.

The change is part of a “transition strategy to focus on discovering and developing novel gene therapy solutions to treat orphan inherited retinal diseases with unmet medical needs,” the company said in a press release.

The firm will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the new ticker symbol “ISEE.” Its new corporate website at www.ivericbio.com.

“We are excited about our re-branding and corporate name change reflecting our transition to a gene therapy focused company developing treatments for patients with orphan inherited retinal diseases,” stated Glenn P. Sblendorio, CEO and president of IVERIC bio. “We are executing a strategy that leverages our retinal expertise and provides a clear path forward with multiple orphan IRD gene therapy programs.

“We believe this is an important time for the Company as we advance our diversified pipeline of scientifically compelling gene therapy programs and explore new gene therapy opportunities for the treatment of orphan IRDs and generate value for our shareholders.”

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Dr. Kourous A. Rezaei, chief medical officer of IVERIC bio,  said: “We believe that gene therapy is the ideal solution to treat patients with orphan inherited retinal diseases for which there are no treatment options available.

“Our goal is to partner with physicians to address this significant unmet medical need, prevent vision loss and transform the lives of our patients. We look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Our clinical therapeutic programs continue to remain on track, with clinical data expected by the end of 2019 and 2020 for these programs. If data are positive for these programs, we may seek partnership opportunities for future clincal development.”

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 21 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Optometry College Graduates Its First OD/MBA Student

She wanted a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry.

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Phillips

When Taylor Phillips graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry on May 10, she became the school’s first dual-degree doctor of optometry/master of business administration graduate, in a partnership with UAB’s Collat School of Business.

UAB’s OD/MBA dual-degree program is intended to give future optometrists a business foundation and education that will help them navigate their future as potential private practices owners and healthcare providers, the school said in a press release.

Phillips, a native of Gilbertown, AL, pursued the OD/MBA path to have a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry. She plans to enter private practice in rural and underserved Choctaw County upon completion of a yearlong residency in Tuscaloosa.

“In school, we learn clinical skills, develop strong patient interactions, understand the management of diseases and care, but we only learn about the top-line business aspects of our future career as optometrists,” Phillips said. “The completion of the OD/MBA program gave me the confidence to enter private practice, and I know it will help me give back to my community in a stronger way.”

Phillips completed her MBA courses in conjunction with her optometry curriculum and with students from other schools on UAB’s campus. Collat offers similar dual-degree paths for dental, medical, public health, engineering and health administration graduates as well.

While Phillips is the first OD/MBA graduate, several other students are currently enrolled in the program.

“The UAB MBA prepares professionals to lead and manage a business enterprise in today’s dynamic marketplace,” said Eric P. Jack, dean of the Collat School of Business.

“Research shows the MBA has been one of the most effective educational programs for changing the world by enabling leaders to build strong, high-performing organizations and by leveraging the power of markets. We’re proud of this novel collaboration between the School of Optometry and the Collat School of Business.”

Prospective students who are interested in learning more about the dual-degree paths offered through Collat School of Business can learn more here.

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8-Location Eyecare Practice Closes Its Doors

It had operated since 1959.

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Union Eye Care, an eight-location practice in Northeast Ohio, has closed its doors.

WOIO-TV in Cleveland reports that employees received an email on May 7 stating:

“The Board of Trustees made the decision that Union Eye Care Inc. will be filing for bankruptcy. We will be closing all eight stores, our terminal optical lab and headquarters permanently effective Wednesday May 8, 2019.”

The business opened in 1959.

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Its website lists locations in Akron, Brunswick, Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic, Garfield Heights, Mentor, North Olmsted and Parma.

WOIO reports that it was unable to reach Union Eye Care representatives by phone or email.

Read more at WOIO-TV

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Shopko Optical Acquisition Completed; 80 Stores to Become Freestanding Locations

The previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of Shopko Optical.

The company expects to relocate nearly 80 of its current locations housed inside Shopko stores to freestanding locations, according to a press release. Shopko is a retail chain that recently announced plans to wind down its operations.

“We are excited to welcome Shopko Optical into our portfolio and to invest in the company’s growth as we move forward with our strategy,” said Andrew Herenstein, co-founder and managing principal of Monarch. “Monarch has a long, successful history of investing in great companies undergoing transitions and working alongside their leadership teams to build strong, vibrant businesses of the future.”

Jim Eisen, former president of Visionworks, is working as an operating partner with Monarch alongside the Shopko Optical team.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the Shopko Optical team,” Eisen said. “We are committed to continuing to provide quality patient care and outstanding service that our affiliated doctors of optometry and opticians have provided for over 40 years. It is an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family.”

Over the course of 2019, Shopko Optical expects to relocate approximately 80 stores, while continuing to serve patients and customers in their existing locations during the transition.

“As we move forward with our plans to operate 80 freestanding optical locations, we continue to be dedicated to our patients, doctors, opticians and the communities we serve,” said Russ Steinhorst, CEO of Shopko. “We encourage anyone with questions to please get in touch with our team. We appreciate the continued patronage of our patients and their understanding during what we hope to be a continued smooth transition.”

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