June 30, 2011

Grants bolster eye research at Vanderbilt

Grants bolster eye research at Vanderbilt

Research to Prevent Blindness has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Vanderbilt’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences that will continue the department’s research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases.

The research will be directed by Paul Sternberg, M.D., chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

“Our long-standing relationship with RPB has been integral in our research endeavors as well as the growth of our research program,” said Sternberg. “This funding will prove to be a key component in our future discoveries in the field of ophthalmic research.”

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has been the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. To date, the organization has awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to the Vanderbilt Eye Institute. The department’s research focuses on the three leading causes of irreversible blindness — diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

The RPB funds are unrestricted and have been used to purchase core-use equipment for multiple investigators within the department; to pay for visiting scholars, who serve as instructors to faculty, residents and students; to contribute toward the cost of hosting symposiums; and to pay for some research administrative costs.

“We hope that in the coming year, we also will be able to use the new funding from the RPB for innovative pilot projects with a focus on translational medicine in eye disease,” said David Calkins, Ph.D., vice chair and director of Research at VEI.

In addition to the unrestricted departmental award, several VEI faculty have recently received individual awards from RPB totaling nearly $500,000, said Calkins. These grants, intended to bolster faculty research programs, range from career developmental awards to senior investigator awards.