Text Size Normal Text Sizing Button Medium Text Sizing Button Large Text Sizing Button Text Contrast Normal Contrast Button Reverse Contrast Button Switch to Spanish Language Press Room Contact Us Sitemap Sign In Register
Link to Homepage About BrightFocus
Donate Now Get Involved  
Alzheimer's Disease Research Macular Degeneration Research National Glaucoma Research

Sign up for Email Notifications
If you would like to be notified when funding or meeting opportunities are announced please click on the link below.

Sign up for new announcements.

Please add ResearchGrants@BrightFocus.org to your institution’s white list to insure that the notification is not blocked by your organization’s SPAM filters.

This email list is not sold or distributed, and serves only as an annual reminder of the availability of research support through the BrightFocus Foundation (www.brightfocus.org). Please follow instructions on the notification emails for removal requests.

BrightFocus Research Grants Funding
Grant Funding for Alzheimer's Research
Grant Funding for Macular Degeneration Research
Grant Funding for Glaucoma Research


Macular Degeneration Research
Completed Award

Photo Pending

Jonathan Haines, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nasville, TN

Title: Genetic examination of AMD in the Midwestern Amish
Non-Technical Title: Genetic studies of age-related macular degeneration in Amish communities of Ohio and Indiana

Duration: April 1, 2008 - March 31, 2011
Award Type: Standard
Award Amount: $100,000


By examining a population with a close community and genetic similarities, this proposal will seek to identify genetic risk factors that predispose a population to AMD.


This study focuses on finding all the genetic components of AMD by examining people (the Amish) with large interrelated family and community structures who are more likely to share environmental exposures and underlying genetic structure than other average Americans. This will reduce the number of normal differences that occur in studies within the general population, and should make it easier to find the remaining genes involved in AMD. The goal is to identify novel factors to better understand AMD and provide other researchers with information for more effective treatments and preventative measures.

Progress Updates:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease found mostly in the elderly that causes debilitating vision loss.  Several genes are known to increase the risk for developing AMD, but there are additional, as yet unidentified, AMD genes.  Dr. Jonathan Haines and colleagues have been working with the elderly population (65 years and older) of well-defined and genetically-isolated Amish communities as part of a larger study of diseases in the aging population. The purpose of this project is to study these communities to discover new AMD genes.

Seventy three individuals, who are part of a single 1505-member Amish family, were examined by an eye specialist and also self reported whether they have or don’t have AMD.  Forty two of those individuals were diagnosed with AMD, and thirty nine of the 42 diagnosed with AMD had self reported to have AMD.  Thirty one individuals were determined to not have AMD, and only five of those individuals self reported to have AMD.  Dr. Haines found the false positive rate of reporting AMD when AMD diagnosis was denied by an eye specialist to be 16%, and the false negative rate of not reporting previous AMD affection when an eye specialist confirmed AMD to be 7%.  The positive predictive value (the percent of subjects who self reported they have AMD and are correctly diagnosed) is 89%, and the negative predictive value (the percent of subjects who self reported they don’t have AMD who end up being diagnosed with the disease) is 90%.  Therefore, self reporting of AMD can be used as a reliable proxy for actual status of having AMD. Dr. Haines has already determined that a subset of the affected individuals do not have a known risk gene.  Therefore, this unique Amish population provides the opportunity for discovering new genes associated with AMD.