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The Cross Family Professorship of Ophthalmology

CrossMeredithJohnMEREDITH and JOHN CROSS live in Washington, DC. Meredith served as the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance at the US Securities and Exchange Commission from 2009 until 2013 and then rejoined the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr as a partner in the Securities and Transactional Departments. John rejoined the Office of Tax Policy at the US Treasury Department as Associate Tax Legislative Counsel in November 2014 after serving as the first Director of the newly formed Office of Municipal Securities at the SEC. Their son JOSEPH graduated from Columbia University in 2010 and then served in the Teach for America program for two years, where he taught fifth grade in Clinton, Louisiana. Joseph currently is finishing his Masters in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Columbia and a fellowship as an Instructor in Columbia’s first-year University Writing program. Meredith is from Southern California and graduated from Duke University. John is from Louisville, Kentucky and graduated from Brown University. They met in the beer line at the welcoming party for new students on Meredith’s first day of school at Vanderbilt Law School in 1979 and have been married since 1981.

Meredith first learned about the Wilmer Eye Institute in the spring of 2012 when she began to experience terrible CrossJohnJosephvision problems that doctors in Washington were unable to diagnose or treat. Once at the Wilmer Eye Institute, she was quickly referred to Dr. Jennifer E. Thorne, Director of Wilmer Eye’s Division of Ocular Immunology, who diagnosed her condition as Birdshot Chorioretinitis, a very rare form of noninfectious uveitis. Dr. Thorne began aggressive drug therapies to control the disease while working with Meredith to make sure she could continue her work as a corporate finance securities lawyer at the highest level. Although there are certainly ups and downs, and Birdshot is a difficult condition with no medicines specifically designed to treat it, the Cross Family feels that Meredith has the best possible treatment and is tremendously grateful to Dr. Thorne for her remarkable care.

Recognizing that funding dedicated to Birdshot is almost as rare as the disease, Meredith began her philanthropic efforts at Wilmer Eye Institute by establishing the Jennifer E. Thorne Birdshot Research Fund in 2013. Meredith’s and John’s philanthropic commitments support both the Cross Family Professorship and Birdshot fund. Additionally, family and friends have contributed over $277,000 to the Birdshot fund. This funding allows Dr. Thorne to focus more of her time on Birdshot research, including hiring a Birdshot fellow in the first year of the program. Meredith joined the Wilmer Eye Institute Board of Governors in 2014.

The Cross family decided that an endowed professorship in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute, focused on Birdshot and other forms of uveitis, has the potential to make a meaningful difference in advancing this critically important research to find better treatments, and hopefully a cure, for Birdshot and other rare forms of uveitis. While the gifts to the Birdshot Research Funds will continue to provide vital current use funding for Dr. Thorne’s research, the Cross family redirected their giving to the endowed professorship in order to ensure a continuous source of research funds for this important work to benefit patients for generations to come. Meredith, John and, Joseph believe that the appointment of Dr. Thorne as the first Cross Family Professor of Ophthalmology will place the leadership for this work in the best possible hands.