University of Maryland chemist receives Astellas Award for blindness prevention research

December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2009 -- Fredrick Khachik, Ph.D., a senior research scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been chosen to receive a 2009 Astellas USA Foundation Award. The award, administered by the American Chemical Society, is given to individuals who have made significant scientific research contributions that improve public health through their work in the chemical and related sciences.

The award includes a $30,000 grant to support his continuing research efforts.

Khachik's research focused on dietary compounds called carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. These compounds accumulate in the retina and can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes a loss of central vision. Khachik developed a process to isolate and purify two of these carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, from marigold flowers and plants. Prior to this innovation, the biological properties of these two compounds could not be investigated in clinical trials. The National Eye Institute is currently conducting a multi-center, randomized clinical trial known as: "The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)" to assess the effects of oral supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin on the progression to AMD. (http://www.areds2.org).

Khachik received his B.S. degree from Pars College in Iran and earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in organic chemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom. He has been affiliated with the University of Maryland since 1997.
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