Boston, Mass. — Lotfi B. Merabet, PhD, OD, MPH, an optometrist and vision researcher at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, is the 2016 recipient of the Low Vision Research Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) and the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Dr. Merabet will receive $300,000 over three years for his project studying neuroplasticity and cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI) – the primary cause of congenital visual impairment in developed countries, including the United States. An expert in neuroplasticity associated with visual impairment, Dr. Merabet is the only vision researcher this year to receive the award, which provides seed funding to researchers working on novel investigations of the way the brain responds to damage to the visual system in low vision patients, with an ultimate goal of developing solutions.
With this support from RPB/LCIF, Dr. Merabet will apply state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques in children and adolescents to discover how the brain reorganizes itself in cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI). To date, very little clinical research has focused on CVI, and Dr. Merabet’s research will play a critical role in developing more effective clinical rehabilitation and education programs for individuals with this condition.
“Dr. Merabet is a pioneer in the development of assistive technology for the blind and the use of advanced neuroimaging methodologies,” said Joan W. Miller, MD, FARVO, the Henry Willard Williams Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. “Remarkably, little clinical research has been focused on CVI, and advances in this area of research are clearly needed. Dr. Merabet is uniquely qualified to carry out this innovative and well-developed research project.”
About Research to Prevent Blindness
RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.
About Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2015–2016 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in the Northeast for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.
About Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology (eye.hms.harvard.edu) is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature—helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.
Media Relations, Mass. Eye and Ear