Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America
Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America (BUSNA) is an independent volunteer-run organization comprised of persons diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis. It was established in 2020 by a group of Birdshot patients living in Canada and the USA. It provides information and support for patients and raises funds for Birdshot Uveitis research.
BUSNA is a nonprofit organization registered in the State of Pennsylvania. It is managed by a Board of Directors and aims to build a stronger Birdshot Uveitis community in North America and around the world. It collaborates with several other Birdshot groups that share resources and experiences.
Visit our Research page, also under the "About BUSNA" tab, to learn more about the research we support.
Meet The BUSNA Board
Christine Griffith resides in Allentown, Pennsylvania and is the President and Treasurer of Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America. She was diagnosed with Birdshot in 2011 at Johns Hopkins by Dr. James P. Dunn, currently Director of the Uveitis Unit at Wills Eye Hospital.
Christine is a proud graduate of Penn State University. Prior to being diagnosed with Birdshot she held positions at various financial services organizations and served as a preschool teacher at a local church. Christine is particularly proud of being a mother to her grown children, and in her free time enjoys traveling, volunteering and outdoor activities.
In 2019, Christine co-organized Birdshot Day in Philadelphia, which was attended by patients from seven different states and included a Q&A session with Dr. Dunn as well as presentations from experts on topics such as nutrition for inflammation and advances in artificial intelligence to help treat eye disease.
She is passionate about working with the board of BUSNA to provide awareness of Birdshot Uveitis and to support both newly diagnosed and long-term Birdshot patients.
Andrea Munk, a resident of Marlboro, New Jersey, is the Assistant Treasurer of Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America. Andrea was diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis in 2018 by a leading retinal doctor in New Jersey. After confirmation of her diagnosis, she was referred to a doctor who specializes in Uveitis in New York City. She currently treats with Dr. Michael C. Samson at Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital in New York City.
Before she joined BUSNA, Andrea was an Environmental Claims Specialist at a Fortune 500 company in NYC. She is currently at home with her children.
Upon meeting other birdshot patients at Birdshot Day 2019 in Philadelphia, Andrea knew she wanted to be part of finding a cure for Birdshot Uveitis. As a member of BUSNA’s Board of Directors, she aims to help current and future generations of birdshot patients manage their disease and maintain their vision.
Her role at BUSNA is to assist in the treasury, manage the social media, and provide creative support for all the advertisements located on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“I am so thrilled to be part of this organization and cannot wait to see what we accomplish in the future!”
Patricia Clarke is a founding member and the Board Secretary of BUSNA. She also works on BUSNA’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. She is a semi-retired technical writer working part-time in the software industry. She lives in Pittsburgh PA.
Patricia's long Birdshot journey began in 1994, when many doctors believed treatment wasn’t necessary and that the disease would “burn itself out.” Some patients were treated with high doses of corticosteroids and experienced devastating, long-term side effects. Patricia was fortunate to start treatment immediately at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) under Andrew W. Eller M.D. He started her on a non-steroidal immunosuppressant “cocktail”, pioneered by C. Stephen Foster M.D. at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School. Her vision remained stable until 2006, when a flare prevented her from reading an eye chart.
Dr. Eller then referred her to Jennifer E. Thorne M.D. Ph.D., at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital. Patricia’s “cocktail” was adjusted in order to suppress the Birdshot. She continues to see Dr. Thorne. Her Birdshot has been stable for many years; however, she continues to take medication.
Despite retinal damage from the 2006 flare, Patricia has not allowed Birdshot to keep her from enjoying hobbies, work, family and friends, and now BUSNA. In addition to pursuing her career, she has raised two golden retrievers, one of them achieving the AKC Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International titles. In her early years of Birdshot, Patricia studied ballet and sang in a community choir. The same year she was diagnosed, she fulfilled a life-long dream and purchased her own home, which she still lovingly maintains.
Patricia feels deep humility and gratitude for her doctors, family and friends, employers, and others who enable her to beat Birdshot. For this reason, she is extremely excited to collaborate with her BUSNA colleagues and help other patients manage their Birdshot.
Leanne Oswald, who lives in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, was first diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis in May of 2003, at 39 years old.
As a registered dental hygienist, a mom to a very busy middle school daughter and elementary school son, and a wife to a busy CPA, Leanne has often wondered if Birdshot would cause the end of her career and limit her ability to keep up with her children’s schedules.
Thankfully, after 11 years of various doctors and treatments, she found Dr. Jennifer Thorne at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Hospital. Dr. Thorne’s treatment plan has been very effective at stabilizing her Birdshot symptoms and vision. Eighteen years after her diagnosis, Leanne is very thankful to still be working part time as a dental hygienist and to be able to drive (daytime only).
Leanne serves on the board of BUSNA, where she is involved in various activities and committees. She is also an admin on the International Birdshot Uveitis Society FB group, and she has attended Birdshot days in London, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Leanne appreciates these wonderful groups that share vital knowledge, support and friendship!
Mari Schlorff, living near Barrie in Ontario, Canada, is a founding board member of the
Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America.
Mari was diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis in 2007 in her home country of
Scotland after reaching out to her late mother’s birdshot specialist in Aberdeen. She has
been receiving excellent care since diagnosis from Dr. Larissa Derzko,
Uveitis specialist in Toronto Canada.
Mari is a retired physiotherapist, having worked in many clinical settings in
Scotland, South Africa and Canada. She and her family enjoy several
outdoor pursuits including sailing, golf and trail walking.
She has seen firsthand the potentially devastating vision loss of Birdshot
Uveitis. Her mother was diagnosed in 1985, and she later became legally blind.
Mari’s role on the board is to lend a voice from a Canadian perspective, supporting the Society and board members in many activities.
She congratulates the board on its passion, work ethic and determination in establishing this not-for-profit society to help other patients across North America as well as
globally. Mari is excited to see what lies ahead in the journey toward finding a cure for Birdshot Uveitis.
Josette Abruzzini lives in Lake Winola, Pennsylvania. She is a founding member of
BUSNA and serves on the Board as blogger and website designer.
In early 2019, Josette noticed floaters in her vision and a sensitivity to glare. She was soon diagnosed by retinal specialist Dr. Randall Peairs of Northeast Eye in Scranton, PA. She is grateful to Dr. Peairs for inspiring her to do everything possible to improve her birdshot situation.
She’s currently being treated by uveitis specialist Dr. Vincent J. Baldassano of Geisinger Eye Institute in Danville, PA. Thanks to a speedy diagnosis and additional guidance from an Integrative physician in New Jersey, Josette’s treatment has consisted of occasional Kenalog injections and a broad array of anti-inflammatory dietary and supplemental protocols.
A native of Newfoundland, Canada, Josette has lived in the US since her college days. She is a retired educator, having taught both elementary music and 5th grade STEM. She is currently honing her writing skills and hopes to someday publish a book.
As writer of the BUSNA blog, Josette works to bring awareness to issues surrounding Birdshot Uveitis. She is encouraged by recent advancements in research and believes that each person can make a difference in their own health and in helping researchers find a cure.
Liz lives in Nashville, TN. She is the newest member of BUSNA’s Board.
Liz first noticed fleeting visual disturbances in 2016. It wasn’t until 2108 that more bizarre symptoms sent her to a neuro-ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with “visual migraines”. After her birdshot diagnosis in 2019, she began aggressive treatment with prednisone and immunosuppressant medications. Her eyes have been quiet for the past year.
Inspired by her 100-year-old mom, Liz stays very active. She’s an engaged member of her temple, Kol Dodi, in Nashville. She also belongs to a book club and walks each day, often with Jasper, her dog.
A native New Yorker, Liz has worked in sales and credit in the building management field. Her responsibilities have included some of Manhattan’s most beautiful and iconic buildings.
Liz is honored to join the board and believes strongly in what she sees as the threefold purpose of BUSNA: to fund research, to share information and data, and to support each other.