July 22, 2005

Blindness prevention group honors VUMC investigator

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Jiyang Cai, Ph.D.

Blindness prevention group honors VUMC investigator

Jiyang Cai, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine, has received the Sybil B. Harrington Scholar Award in the amount of $50,000 from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of blinding diseases.

The award, part of RPB's Special Scholar program designed to support outstanding young scientists who are conducting research of unusual significance and promise, supports Cai's work to evaluate the role of mitochondrial injury as a target of damage in age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in elderly Americans.

“Dr. Cai is an extremely talented young scientist, whose work has great promise to make profound inroads into our understanding of the causes of macular degeneration and to develop novel agents for its prevention and treatment,” states Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., G. W. Hale Professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

RPB is the world's largest voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding diseases. In 2004, RPB awarded a Challenge Grant to the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, which is given to encourage growth for newly emerging eye research programs.

Early this year, John Penn, Ph.D., vice-chair and director of research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, was given a Senior Scientific Investigator Award from RPB.