A gene's identity is not necessarily informative of the function of its product. Even when a gene, by virtue of its primary structure, can be assigned to a family of characterized genes, knowledge of its function is not guaranteed. For example, pigment epithelium–derived factor, a protein currently employed in a clinical trial for exudative AMD because of its antiangiogenic properties, is a member of the serine protease inhibitor protein family. Nonetheless,it has no serine protease inhibitor protein activity.53ELOVL4, the gene responsible for dominant Stargardt macular dystrophy, belongs to a family of proteins involved in fatty acid elongation.However, to date it has not been possible to demonstrate this function for its protein product.54 An extreme example is LOC387715, a hypothetical gene whose structure cannot be assigned to a known family at this time. Nonetheless, recent evidence suggests a very high association between smoking and AMD in individuals who carry a variant of this gene.55 What is the solution to the characterization of genes with unknown function? Multidisciplinary application of the tools of cell biology, gene disruption, and other powerful adjuncts to genetics will ultimately provide the answers. It is the multidisciplinary approach that makes this field of endeavor so interesting. There is no longer a need to prod collaboration among investigators from diverse disciplines.It is now commonplace for scientists with expertise in genetics, biophysics,chemistry, molecular biology, epidemiology, or ophthalmology to work together toward an understanding of the cause of inherited diseases. Combined, these disciplines provide a broader perspective on diagnosis, prognosis, treatment,and prevention. The next decade will be exciting from many perspectives, most importantly from that of the patients who stand to gain the most from new discoveries and treatments.