A Novel Target in Promoting Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival in Glaucomain Glaucoma

Donald Zack, MD, PhD
Wilmer Eye Institute (Baltimore, MD)
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014
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US Northeastern
Dr. Yang (the original PI) was the recipient of the Dr. Douglas H. Johnson award for glaucoma research

Role of a Protein Kinase in Retinal Ganglion Cell Degeneration in Glaucoma


The research proposed in this application will directly determine the potential value of a new protein target in the treatment of vision loss in glaucoma. In addition, Drs. Yang, Zack, and colleagues will evaluate a drug candidate that can block this target for its potential to preserve vision in a rodent model of glaucoma.

The research grant was originally awarded to Zhiyong Yang, M.D., Ph.D. and transferred to Dr. Zack in August of 2013 when Dr. Yang left Johns Hopkins.


Dr. Zack and colleagues will use a mouse model of glaucoma to evaluate whether a protein is important in the death of retinal ganglion cells and whether the cells can still relay visual information to the brain. Moreover, these researchers will test whether a compound specifically blocking the protein can increase retinal ganglion cell survival in an animal model of glaucoma. The protein was identified by previous studies by this same research group, but its potential function in glaucoma was not assessed. The completion of this study may help to identify a new drug candidate for treatment of glaucoma and may determine how this protein plays a role in glaucoma.


Welsbie DS, Yang Z, Ge Y, Mitchell KL, Zhou X, Martin SE, Berlinicke CA, Hackler L Jr, Fuller J, Fu J, Cao LH, Han B, Auld D, Xue T, Hirai S, Germain L, Simard-Bisson C, Blouin R, Nguyen JV, Davis CH, Enke RA, Boye SL, Merbs SL, Marsh-Armstrong N, Hauswirth WW, DiAntonio A, Nickells RW, Inglese J, Hanes J, Yau KW, Quigley HA, Zack DJ. Functional genomic screening identifies dual leucine zipper kinase as a key mediator of retinal ganglion cell death. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Mar 5;110(10):4045-50. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211284110. Epub 2013 Feb 19. PubMed Icon Google Scholar Icon