In 2023, 13 grant applications across the spectrum of basic, translational and clinical science were received for consideration for funding by the Research and Education Fund and Grant Awards program. All were carefully reviewed by a committee consisting of Jason Hsu, Nora Lad, Eric Nudleman, Susanna Park, Yannis Paulus, Charles Wycoff and David Zacks.
Glenn Yiu, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Ophthalmlology
University of California Davis
PROJECT TITLE: Photoreceptor Reprogramming in an Optogenetic Model of Geographic Atrophy
Chronic oxidative retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) damage in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to damage to rod photoreceptors and scotopic function loss in early disease, and later involve cones in more advanced stages like geographic atrophy (GA). This study will investigate photoreceptor structure and function in a novel optically-induced mouse model of GA, and then assess the effectiveness of reprogramming rods to cone-like cells using CRISPER-medicated gene ablation of the Nrl transcription factor as a neuroprotective strategy to prevent photoreceptor damage in GA.
Thomas Wubben, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Science
University of Michigan
PROJECT TITLE: Photoreceptor Protection Via Metabolic Targeting of the Integrated Stress Response
Understanding the metabolic underpinnings that orchestrate stress pathway activation in photoreceptors is critical to creating innovative, therapeutic strategies for retinal degenerative diseases. This proposal will identify the link between metabolic dysregulation and stress pathway activation to potentially provide novel, gene-agnostic, photoreceptor neuroprotective strategies with immediately translatable applications.
Andrew Browne, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology
Gavin Herbert Eye Institute
University of California Irvine
PROJECT TITLE: An Imaging Assay to Objectively Quantify Dark Adaptometry With a Gradient Photobleach Recovery Assay
Rod-mediated dark adaptometry is the most reliable subjective assay of visual function that can distinguish normal aging from early and intermediate macular degeneration. This study seeks to develop an objective imaging assay to quantify rod-mediated dark adaptation.