CLEVELAND, July 8, 2022 — The Eversight Center for Vision and Eye Banking Research has awarded four grants to investigators at Wayne State University, University of Michigan, University of Maryland and Loyola University to advance promising eye and vision research.
Recipients were selected by an independent review panel of academic researchers and ophthalmologists led by Jonathan Lass, MD, Charles I. Thomas Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Case Western Reserve University. Proposals selected for funding align with Eversight’s mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through meaningful scientific inquisition.
“We are impressed by the pool of candidates and proud to support the awarded researchers in their investigations into blinding eye conditions,” said Onkar B. Sawant, PhD, Director of Research & Innovation, Eversight. “The Eversight Center for Vision and Eye Banking Research is committed to cultivating hope for those living with visual impairments around the world who may one day benefit from cures and treatments discovered through eye and vision research. We look forward to the findings of these four projects and how they might expand our current knowledge of diabetic corneal dysfunction, protein aggregation in the cornea, ocular graft rejection, glaucoma risk factors and more.”
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 vision science. Many of these projects have stimulated larger-scale studies and won further financial support from the National Institutes of Health.
“Eversight remains dedicated to filling the gap in early-stage eye and vision research funding,” said Diane Hollingsworth, President/CEO, Eversight. “Foundational science makes clinical discovery possible and could modernize therapies that may one day end preventable blindness. We congratulate all grant recipients and thank our philanthropic contributors who support critical eye and vision research.”
2021-2022 grant recipients and their proposals are:
- Elizabeth Berger, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences, Wayne State University, is investigating the effects of hyperglycemic conditions on corneal epithelial cell integrity and barrier function. The intention of this study is to generate preclinical evidence for the development of a novel combination peptide therapy to treat corneal dysfunction in diabetic patients that could improve their vision.
- Nambi Nallasamy, MD, Assistant Professor, Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, is investigating existing FDA-approved compounds that either stabilize or prevent TGFBI protein misfolding, which can cause corneal dystrophies and impair vision. The purpose of this study is to measure the impact of specific FDA-approved compounds and test a series of newly-designed peptides that target this problematic protein aggregation.
- Sarah B. Sunshine, MD, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, is investigating a hypothesis that Granzyme B plays a critical role in ocular graft versus host disease (oGVHD) and may provide insight into novel treatment targets for patients with oGVHD, which affects 40-60% of patients who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants for cancer therapy and can lead to debilitating eye disease.
- Simon Kaja, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, is investigating the cellular processes triggered by increased intraocular pressure by modeling the mechanical forces caused by increased pressure. The ultimate goal is to confirm if these same processes occur in humans and animals before creating treatments targeting this cellular mechanism, which is one of the known leading risk factors for glaucoma.
Applications for the 2022-2023 Eversight Eye & Vision Research Grant Program cycle will be accepted July 12-Sept. 9, 2022. Learn more at eversightvision.org/grants.
Eversight is a 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.