Newswise — Northampton, MA — The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) is investing $1.1 million in studies that hold the potential to set new standards in the prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  The nonprofit announced its expanded slate of grants in the wake of recently released figures that put the number of Americans with some form of the sight stealing disease at 20 million.

“Donors entrust us not only with their resources, but with their hopes,” says Chip Goehring, President and Founder, AMDF.  “As a foundation, we share the hopes of our supporters, that through carefully identified research and education we can allow patients and caregivers to live their fullest lives with this disease, and prevent future generations from losing their sight.”

AMDF’s new grants are aimed at disease prevention, risk reduction, new treatment protocols and cures.

  • Martin-Paul Agbaga, PhD, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, will receive an AMDF Stargardt Breakthrough Award to develop a treatment and delivery system that will rescue retinal defects in a rare form of Stargardt macular degeneration (STGD3), and possibly late AMD.
  • Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH and Saghar Bagheri, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, will receive an AMDF Breakthrough Award for a study to determine how the time that elapses from the onset of wet AMD symptoms to the first anti-VEGF injection correlates to short- and long-term visual outcomes (findings from this investigation may lead to a change in treatment protocols worldwide).
  • Neena Haider, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School receives an AMDF Breakthrough Award  extension to continue testing gene-based interventions that could attenuate the progression of AMD, and possibly prevent its development.
  • Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM, Director of Retina, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, receives an AMDF Breakthrough Award extension to continue to elucidate new biological pathways involved in AMD and identify new therapeutic targets.
  • Allen Taylor, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, Development, Molecular & Chemical Biology, & Ophthalmology, Tufts University, will receive an AMDF Prevention Award for a study to confirm the benefits of a low glycemic index diet in slowing AMD and possibly reversing symptoms, with the goal of redefining nutritional guidelines for AMD patients and those at risk.
  • Claudio Punzo, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, will receive an AMDF/ Research to Prevent Blindness Catalyst Award to develop a small interfering RNA  therapy for wet AMD that would require many fewer treatments than current anti-VEGF eye injections (part of a three-year, co-funding partnership with Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc.). 

Smaller AMDF awards, intended to nurture the early careers of AMD researchers, go to:

  • Shun-Yun Cheng, a post-doctoral research fellow (in the laboratory of Claudio Punzo, PhD), University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, who receives an AMDF Young Investigator Leadership Award  to pursue her investigations of a proposed role for photoreceptors as initiators in the development of AMD.
  • Ryutaro Akiba, MD, PhD, University of Washington and Giulia Corradetti, MD, Doheny Eye Institute, UCLA, who received Travel Grants for costs associated with attending the annual meeting of the Association of Researchers in Vision and Ophthalmology.

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The American Macular Degeneration Foundation ( is a patient-centric foundation that supports potentially game-changing AMD research, education and advocacy in order to improve quality of life and treatment outcomes for all of those affected by AMD.