CLEVELAND, Ohio—The Eversight Center for Vision and Eye Banking Research has awarded four grants to investigators at Case Western Reserve University, Wayne State University, University of Illinois-Chicago and University of Michigan to advance promising eye and vision research. Recipients were selected by an independent review panel of academic researchers and ophthalmologists led by Jonathan Lass, MD, and Charles I. Thomas, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and member of the Eversight board of directors and medical advisory committee.

Proposals selected for funding will engage in meaningful scientific inquisition and align with Eversight’s mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research.

“The Eversight Center for Vision and Eye Banking Research proudly supports early-stage eye and vision research,” said Onkar B. Sawant, PharmB, PhD, vice president of research and development at Eversight. “We are dedicated to advancing the fields of ophthalmology and eye banking by supporting critical research across disciplines. The scientific questions our awardees are asking today give hope to those living with blinding eye conditions globally, and may one day lead to improved vision care and disease treatment or prevention.”

Eversight has a robust research and development history and has awarded more than $4 million in grant funding to fuel scientific exploration in the field of vision science. Many of these projects have stimulated larger-scale studies and won further financial support from the National Institutes of Health.

“We look forward to our awardees’ contributions and thank our philanthropic contributors whose financial support helps make the Eye and Vision Research Grant program possible,” Sawant said.

The 2023 grant recipients and their proposals are:

  • Beth Ann Benetz, MA, CRA, professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, is investigating the utility of automatic analysis via machine learning to provide consistent and accurate cell count assessment of donor corneal endothelial cell images. The intended impact is to create safer procedures for successful corneal transplants.

  • Maria do Carmo Pereira da Costa, PhD, research assistant professor, Department of Neurology, Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, is investigating the role of polyQ proteins in the eye to understand how the polyQ expansion affects the role of the native protein. The overall impact of this study is to establish the foundations for future studies to define the roles of polyQ proteins in the human eye and elucidate how these roles are impacted by the polyQ expansion in Spinocerebellar ataxia disease.

  • Victor Guaiquil, PhD, assistant research professor of ophthalmology, Corneal Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, College of Medicine, University of Illinois-Chicago, is investigating the neurogenic potential of Netrin-4, a protein implicated in diabetic retinopathy and corneal hemangiogenesis, by using both in vitro and in vivo assays. This study will investigate the potency of Netrin-4 to induce neuronal growth, elongation and branching, and will determine the optimal route of administration for its therapeutic uses in corneal wound healing.

  • Ghulam Mohammad, PhD, research assistant professor, ophthalmology, visual and anatomical sciences, College of Medicine, Wayne State University, is investigating the link between epigenetics, oxidative stress and inflammation in the delayed epithelial wound healing in diabetic corneas. The outcome of this project is to enhance the overall understanding of the mechanisms underlying delayed epithelial wound healing in diabetic corneas.
Those interested in attending an Eversight webinar featuring three 2022 Eye & Vision Research Grant award recipients at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 can register here.

This panel discussion will showcase the important work they are doing to advance eye and vision research. Applications for the 2024 Eversight Eye and Vision Research Grant program cycle will be accepted this summer. Learn more here.