Eversight announces 5 recipients of 2018 Eye & Vision Research Grants

‘Eversight is committed to supporting research that may potentially lead to innovative therapies and treatments’

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Eversight has awarded five grants totaling $95,000 through its Center for Eye and Vision Research.

The awards were determined by an independent review panel composed of distinguished scientists, ophthalmologists and health services researchers, who selected projects that aligned with the Eversight mission to restore sight and prevent blindness.

The Eye and Vision Research Grant program has awarded more than $4 million since 1980 to stimulate new and pioneering research. Several of these grant projects have led to larger studies and financial support from the National Institutes of Health.

“There’s a real void when it comes to funding the initial investigative work that can launch new and groundbreaking discoveries,” said Dr. Gregory Grossman, Eversight Director of Research. “But Eversight is committed to supporting research that may potentially lead to innovative therapies and treatments.”

The Eversight Center for Eye and Vision Research is one of the only eye bank-led programs focused on providing scientists with innovative resources they need to find new cures and treatments for blinding eye conditions. For more information, visit eversightvision.org/researchers.

Grant recipients and amounts include:

Reza Dana, M.D. – $20,000
Dr. Dana, professor of ophthalmology and vice chair for academic programs at Harvard Medical School, is investigating a cytoprotective neuropeptide called alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) and its effect on preventing or reducing corneal endothelial cell loss, one of the principle causes of corneal tissue graft failure.

Tomomi Ichinose, M.D., Ph.D. – $20,000
In her study, Dr. Ichinose, an assistant professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, will use donated human post-mortem eyes to explore the neural networks in the central retina, a small portion of the eye responsible for high-resolution vision, and obtain a more precise understanding that could lead to new disease therapies and retinal prostheses.

James D. Reynolds, Ph.D. – $20,000
A professor at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Reynolds is pursuing a novel treatment method that could help people in need and improve patient care. An unexplored area in research is how donor status impacts small molecules that control many important body functions, including oxygen delivery and cell activity. Dr. Reynolds and his team, using a drug they designed, are conducting research to see if this treatment can be added to corneal storage solution, potentially improving the quality of tissue for transplantation and increasing the number of corneas available for transplant.

Nakul Shekhawat, M.D. – $15,000
Dr. Shekhawat, clinical instructor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan, is leading a project to identify people diagnosed with herpes simplex virus keratitis (HSVK) and herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO), painful and recurrent conditions that are major causes of blindness. Dr. Shekhawat and his team hope to identify the risk factors associated with the re-emergence of these infections. This information could improve quality of care and stimulate new avenues of research in order to reduce the burden of these debilitating and potentially blinding conditions.

Pawan Kumar Singh, Ph.D. – $20,000
Dr. Singh, research scientist at Wayne State University School of Medicine, is investigating the role of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in glaucoma pathobiology, an emerging viral pathogen that can lead to severe ocular complications in newborn infants born to Zika-infected mothers. Dr. Singh’s research is addressing a pressing need to investigate the link between ZIKV and glaucoma in order to develop new prognostic and therapeutic tools to combat this global health threat.