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Glaucoma Research Foundation Marks World Glaucoma Week by Awarding Over $1 Million in Research Grants

The Glaucoma Research Foundation is marking World Glaucoma Week (March 7-13, 2010) by announcing more than $1 million in research grants.

GRF is awarding $1 million again this year to fund the ongoing Catalyst For a Cure (CFC), while four Shaffer Grant recipients will receive $40,000 each in support of their research into the causes and, potentially, cures for glaucoma. With its investment of $1.3 million, GRF continues to be the nation’s largest private source of funding for glaucoma research.

CFC Grant Recipients

Now in its ninth year, the Catalyst For a Cure consortium comprises scientists from four prominent Universities: David Calkins, PhD (Vanderbilt University), Philip Horner, PhD (University of Washington), Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, PhD (Johns Hopkins University), and Monica Vetter, PhD (University of Utah). Their goal is to discover the earliest changes in glaucoma and identify exactly what to target in the disease pathway with potential new drug or genetic therapies to prevent vision loss.

Shaffer Grant Recipients

The four researchers receiving this year’s Shaffer grants are working to better understand mechanisms of action, neuroprotective benefits, and aqueous outflow:

  • Emmanuel Buys, PhD - Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
The goal of Dr. Buys’ project is to characterize a clinically relevant model for high IOP and glaucoma. His research will provide an outstanding opportunity to gain important insights into the disease process of glaucoma and may establish a new therapeutic target for the treatment of glaucoma.
  • Tonia S. Rex, PhD - University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
Dr. Rex’s project will determine the effectiveness of a neuroprotective therapy in a model of inherited glaucoma. The therapeutic agent overcomes a major challenge of other neuroprotective treatments by its ability to cross the blood retina/brain barriers thereby negating the need for intraocular injections.
  • Yi Zhao, PhD - Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Dr. Zhao’s project will enhance the understanding of the mechanism that governs the decrease of aqueous humor outflow that occurs in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). The results will identify the role of various factors that govern the IOP increase.
  • An Zhou, PhD - Robert S. Dow Neurobiology Laboratories, Portland, OR
The goal of Dr. Zhou’s study is to identify proteins that are uniquely expressed in retinas that have become resistant to reduced blood flow which can lead to glaucoma. Knowledge obtained from this study will help find new therapeutic targets for treating glaucoma.

Critical Research Funding

Glaucoma is the world’s second leading cause of blindness — and the leading cause of blindness in African Americans.

“Both the Shaffer Grant recipients and Catalyst for a Cure research team are working diligently to find the answers that have eluded us for so many years,” said Thomas M. Brunner, president and chief executive officer of the Glaucoma Research Foundation. “Without Glaucoma Research Foundation funding, many of these research projects would not be able to advance our knowledge toward a cure.”

About World Glaucoma Week

Established by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association, World Glaucoma Week is a unique initiative to help those with an interest in improved eye health to understand the devastating effects of a condition that could affect as many as 80 million people by 2020.

Experts estimate that half of the people with glaucoma are unaware of their condition, and could be slowly losing their sight because their glaucoma has not been diagnosed or treated.

“Glaucoma Research Foundation has been ‘spreading the word’ about the looming epidemic of glaucoma brought on by the world’s aging population,” said Mr. Brunner. “World Glaucoma Week is an opportunity for everyone to help spread the word by talking about glaucoma - either your own diagnosis or family history, or simply sharing information and encouraging eye examinations. In this way we can all help to prevent irreversible vision loss from this ‘silent thief of sight’.”

Last reviewed on March 07, 2011

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