Newswise — March 10, 2020, San Francisco, CA — Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) today announced a total of $1.2 million in annual research grants to support 12 investigators at prestigious colleges and universities across the United States. 

GRF is awarding $800,000 to the four Catalyst for a Cure principal investigators ($200,000 to each laboratory) to continue their investigations aimed at restoring vision in glaucoma. GRF one-year Shaffer Grants in the amount of $50,000 each will be awarded to eight individual grant recipients to support their research into potential new treatment targets for glaucoma. This investment continues Glaucoma Research Foundation’s status as one of the nation’s leading private sources of funding for innovative glaucoma research. 

“Glaucoma Research Foundation is funding eight researchers at prominent medical research centers with our one-year Shaffer Grants,” said Andrew G. Iwach, MD, GRF Board Chair. “In addition, we will continue to fund the four principal investigators engaged in our multi-year Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative. With this diverse research portfolio, we are doing our best to invest in research that in the short term will help improve the lives of glaucoma patients worldwide while at the same time pursuing the longer-term goal of finding a cure.” 

Catalyst for a Cure 

“In 2019, our third Catalyst for a Cure research team began to pursue exciting discoveries in vision restoration,” said Thomas M. Brunner, GRF President and CEO. “The team is exploring many promising avenues, from optic nerve regeneration to stem cell replacement to gene-based therapies, with the goal of restoring useful sight to patients who have lost vision to glaucoma. Their efforts represent our best hope for rapid progress toward a cure for glaucoma.” he said. 

The four Catalyst for a Cure investigators are Xin Duan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Physiology Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco; Yang Hu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine; Anna La Torre, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis; and Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, San Diego Shiley Eye Institute, University of California, San Diego. 

The 2020 Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research 

Each year GRF’s Shaffer Grant Advisory Committee evaluates grant applications and determines the most promising projects for Glaucoma Research Foundation to fund. Following is a summary of 2020 projects the foundation is funding at $50,000 each: 

Steven Bassnett, PhD

Washington University School of Medicine

Project: Role of LOXL1 Propeptide Aggregation in Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma 

Stewart Bloomfield, PhD

State University of New York College of Optometry

Project: Retinal Gap Junctions Form Novel Targets for Neuroprotective Therapy in Glaucoma 

Alex Huang, MD, PhD

Doheny Eye Institute

Project: Investigating Subconjuctival Lymphatics for the Treatment of Glaucoma and Eye Disorders 

Tatjana Jakobs, MD

Schepens Eye Research Institute

Project: The Transcription Factor Runx1 as a Novel Mediator of Astrocyte Reactivity in the Optic Nerve

Rachel Kuchtey, MD, PhD

Vanderbilt Eye Institute

Project: Investigation of Ocular Biomechanical Defects in Mice with Microfibril and Elastic Fiber Defects 

Herbert Lachman, MD

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Project: Gene Expression Profiling in Trabecular Meshwork Cells derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells made from Patients with Lowe Syndrome, a Genetic Disorder that causes Cataracts and Glaucoma

Matthew B. Veldman, PhD

Medical College of Wisconsin

Project: Zebrafish Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival in the Context of Pro-Apoptotic Bax Signaling 

Trent A. Watkins, PhD

Baylor College of Medicine

Project: Highly Parallel Assessment of RGC Regenerative and Neuroprotective Targets

 

About World Glaucoma Week 

Established by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association, World Glaucoma Week is designed to inspire a series of global activities that alert people to have regular comprehensive eye exams to detect glaucoma earlier, thus contributing to sight preservation. 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. 2020 marks the 12th year of observance for World Glaucoma Week. Website: www.worldglaucomaweek.org

 

About Glaucoma Research Foundation 

Founded in San Francisco in 1978, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is America’s oldest and most experienced institution dedicated solely to its mission: to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research. GRF has a proven track record of ground-breaking, results-oriented research and produces definitive educational materials used by eye care professionals across the country. The Glaucoma Research Foundation website, www.glaucoma.org, provides valuable information about glaucoma to 4 million visitors annually.

 

##