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NIH lauds Rex’s ideas for future of vision research

Feb. 14, 2013, 10:44 AM


Tonia Rex, Ph.D., was recently named one of 10 winners of a national competition for ideas on the future of vision research. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Tonia Rex, Ph.D., assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, was recently named one of 10 winners of the National Institutes of Health competition for ideas on the future of vision research.

The nationwide competition, Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation, awards prizes for submissions that best represent the mission of the National Eye Institute, a part of the NIH, as well as direct innovative research aimed at reducing the burden of vision disorders and diseases worldwide.

Rex’s Audacious Goal is one that targets regenerative medicine and therapies.

“We are poised to make great strides in neuronal regeneration,” Rex said. “I want to help with restoring sight in patients who have had damage to the connections from the eye to the brain. Currently there are no therapeutic options for that patient population except to stop the degenerative process.

“I want to be able to help the cells in the eye to regrow and reform their connections with the brain in order to restore functional and useful vision.”

Rex’s goal would target glaucoma, one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness, glaucoma, and other disorders like optic neuropathy.

Nearly 500 entries were reviewed by the NEI. Winners received a $3,000 prize plus travel expenses to attend the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting. Entries were solicited from vision research experts as well as those from the private, government and nonprofit sectors including scientists, engineers, health care providers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

“This acknowledgement of Dr. Rex by the NIH speaks not only to her creativity and excellence as a scientist, but to the growing importance of regenerative medicine in neurodegenerative disease,” said David Calkins, Ph.D., vice chair and director of Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

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