Funding supports essential optical research at leading academic institutions

Eversight Awards 2019 Eye & Vision Research Grants

CLEVELAND, July 22, 2019 — Eversight today announced it has awarded grants through the Eversight Center for Vision and Eye Banking Research to investigators at Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan Medical School, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Tufts Medical Center to advance promising eye and vision research.

Recipients were selected by an independent review panel comprised of foremost academics, ophthalmologists and health services researchers led by Jonathan Lass, M.D., Charles I Thomas Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Proposals selected for funding align with Eversight’s mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through meaningful scientific inquisition.

“Our distinguished panel of reviewers was impressed by the scientific caliber and remarkable curiosity of the 2019 applicant pool,” said Onkar B. Sawant, Ph.D., Eversight Director of Research. “We are confident that proposals supported by the Eversight Eye & Vision Research Grant Program have the potential to make impactful discoveries that could expand our scientific knowledge, improve ophthalmic surgical procedures and transform eye banking to improve patient outcomes.”

Eversight has a robust research and development history and has awarded more than $4 million in grant funding to fuel scientific exploration in the field of ophthalmology. Many of these projects have stimulated larger-scale studies and won further financial support from the National Institutes of Health.

“Eversight grants drive foundational scientific discovery by providing critical early-stage funding to investigators across the country,” said David Bosch, Eversight President/CEO. “Like the recipients of these grants, Eversight is committed to furthering the field of vision science to improve ocular surgery and eye banking practices. We congratulate all grant recipients and look forward to their findings.”

2019 grant recipients and their proposals include:

  • Reza Dana, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Director of Cornea and Refractive Surgery at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, is investigating aqueous humor cytokines and chemokines in DMEK vs. DSEK graft failure. Dana’s findings may broaden the field’s understanding of the role of immune system factors responsible for endothelial keratoplasty graft failure, which could inform future efforts to improve procedural success rates.
  • Abigail Fahim, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan Medical School, is investigating choroideremia pathophysiology using iPSC-derived retinal pigment epithelium. Fahim’s findings may determine potential new therapeutic agents for chorioretinal degenerations, including age-related macular degeneration, expanding treatment options for patients.
  • Victor Guaiquil, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, is investigating the role of axon guidance proteins in the injured cornea. Guaiquil’s gene and protein expression analysis may explain the molecular mechanisms of corneal neuropathies and further inform the prevention and treatment of unexplainable eye pain.
  • Pedram Hamrah, M.D., Ophthalmologist at Tufts Medical Center, is investigating the efficacy of plasmacytoid dendritic cell local adoptive transfer on host immune response to corneal graft and graft survival. Hamrah’s findings may yield fundamental information about the significance of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in corneal transplantation and could lead to novel therapeutic approaches for other corneal inflammatory conditions, as well as other solid-tissue transplants.
  • Kai Kang, M.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, is investigating the effect of microbiome on corneal epithelial healing and corneal regenerative potential. Kang’s findings may shed light on the exact mechanism of the corneal-microbiome interaction and initiate further inquiry into the feasibility of corneal regeneration.
  • Susmit Suvas, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine, is investigating novel therapeutic approaches to alleviate the severity of necrotizing herpes stromal keratitis. Suvas’ findings may create a promising therapy to effectively reduce stromal inflammation for patients and improve healing of corneal epithelium in those who are developing herpes stromal keratitis.

Applications for the Eversight Eye & Vision Research Grant Program will reopen in early 2020.

About Eversight
Eversight is nonprofit organization with a mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research. The Eversight network is responsible for recovering, evaluating and providing human eye tissue for transplantation; supporting research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions; promoting donation awareness through public and professional education; and providing humanitarian aid to people around the world in need of corneal transplantation. Operating in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and South Korea, Eversight works in collaboration with surgeons, researchers, academic medical centers and eye banks across the United States and abroad. For more information, visit eversightvision.org.

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