Research to Prevent Blindness awards $5.3 million in grants to support eye research

July 17, 2013

New York, NY, July 17, 2013 -- Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), the world's leading voluntary health organization supporting eye research, has awarded 43 grants totaling $5,308,000 for research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of all blinding diseases. RPB will award additional grants in December.

The latest RPB awards were conveyed to 28 leading medical institutions. They include unrestricted grants to departments of ophthalmology at 24 medical schools and 17 awards to individual scientists, including Career Development Awards, Physician Scientist Awards, Special Scholar Awards, a Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research, Medical Student Eye Research Fellowships, an International Research Scholar Award, and a special grant to the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. They also include a prestigious, one-time laboratory grant of $600,000 to the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine, to be named the RPB Mildred Krahmer Sanders and William Clifford Sanders Laboratory for Vision Research Laboratory.

"RPB has an outstanding track record of funding excellence in vision research," said RPB's new President, Brian F. Hofland, PhD. "We expect the recipients of these grants to build on that tradition by making significant contributions to the body of knowledge on eye diseases and developing new treatments for vision disorders."

RPB grants are highly flexible, allowing researchers to pursue new discoveries mid- project. The organization places a premium on innovation in awarding these grants which, this year, include investigations into: the pharmacological manipulation of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and affect ocular inflammation via the immune system; a single-dose gene therapy for age-related macular degeneration using a virus that expresses therapeutic molecules at levels sufficient for long-term treatment; and the action mechanism of DHA (a fatty acid with neuroprotective properties) in the retina along with possible recommendations for its safe use in specific eye diseases.

Across the nation, RPB-supported laboratories investigate the entire spectrum of eye disease from cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy to macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and eye movement disorders. Among the vision scientists fighting these diseases are five active Jules and Doris Stein RPB Professors who receive up to $1.025 million each over seven years (including a possible two-year extension and a matching grant for laboratory construction).

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $310 million into eye research. As a result, RPB has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in vision research in that time, including the development of laser surgery now used to treat diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, myopia, retinal detachment and astigmatism.

RPB currently supports a comprehensive grants program at 56 medical institutions throughout the United States. RPB grants nurture vibrant vision-research environments, further the careers of vision scientists and advance the development of thought leaders in the vision research field.
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