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Collaborative Research is Speeding Progress toward a Cure

The Catalyst for a Cure researchers
The Catalyst for a Cure researchers

Medical research is typically an isolated activity. Researchers rarely share ideas until they publish their findings.

When Glaucoma Research Foundation launched Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) in 2002, our bold idea was to recruit the most promising young researchers from different fields to work together collaboratively to discover the basic mechanisms of glaucoma.

We asked the CFC research team to test their ideas early and often in disease models to accelerate the path to a cure. We sought to change medical research from an isolated effort to a collaborative goal-oriented approach.

We now have a proven collaborative research model that has broadened our understanding of glaucoma and is now focusing efforts on finding new biomarkers for early disease detection.

An Unprecedented Approach

With Catalyst for a Cure, Glaucoma Research Foundation marked the launch of an unprecedented approach in the field. Our Scientific Advisory Board intentionally sought experts outside the mainstream of glaucoma investigation to ensure a fresh perspective.

They asked the CFC researchers to only do projects that took full advantage of their combined skill sets. As a result of this innovative approach, the original team of CFC researchers made significant findings that changed our understanding of the disease.

Today, the impact of our approach is multiplying. CFC-authored publications are among the top ten most referenced in the field. Follow-on National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding exceeded our own $9 million investment and other national organizations are sanctioning and duplicating our pioneering model.

Taking CFC into consideration, this year the National Eye Institute specifically endorsed “cross-functional groups” and collaboration as part of its new research strategy.

Exceptional Progress

The CFC collaboration has not only made exceptional progress in its own research, but also has reshaped the direction of glaucoma research and the manner in which it is conducted. CFC research will continue to broaden our understanding of the mechanics of glaucoma and how best to intervene to preserve sight.

CFC is an ongoing, multi-year collaboration of laboratories at leading universities. The current team consists of two neurobiologists and two optical engineers charged with identifying new biomarkers to indicate the earliest signs of glaucoma.

The principal investigators are: Alfredo Dubra, PhD at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD, Shiley Eye Center, University of California, San Diego; Andrew Huberman, PhD, University of California, San Diego; and Vivek Srinivasan, PhD at University of California, Davis.

Thanks to generous support from our donors and the collaborative efforts of the investigators, the team is now poised to enter the second phase of their research to continue their investigations and validate their promising work.

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of Gleams.


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