As part of the National Eye Institute Audacious Goals Initiative, the National Institutes of Health awarded $12.4 million to six research teams to identify biological factors that affect neural regeneration in the retina. Larry Benowitz, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues at Stanford University and the Scripps Research Institute, received funding to support their research toward the molecular discovery of optic nerve injury. By identifying genes and proteins that help or hinder the ability of retinal ganglion cells to regenerate, grow axons to a target, and become functional in mice, the researchers hope to investigate promising molecular candidates in longer-term animal studies designed to assess changes in the animals’ vision.
Dr. Benowitz, along with co-investigators Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD, of Stanford University and Donald Zack, MD, PhD, of Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, also received a grant from the Department of Defense in the amount of $1,500,000 over three years for their project, “Molecular Control of Optic Nerve Regeneration.” This study will investigate whether genes found to be differentially expressed during multiple paradigms of axon outgrowth will promote optic nerve regeneration when overexpressed in adult animals.
Patricia D'Amore, PhD, MBA, received an R01 grant from the National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health in the amount of $492,500 per year for 3 years for her project "Investigation of endomucin as a novel regulator of angiogenesis."
Gena Heidary, MD, PhD, has received a grant from the Children’s Tumor Foundation in the amount of $150,000 for two years to continue her work evaluating the impact of Neurofibromatosis Type 1-associated optic pathway gliomas on visual function. In addition, she has received a donation from a grateful family of $500,000 to fund this research for the next five years.