2015 BrightFocus Research Grants Awards

BrightFocus Foundation has a history of supporting cutting-edge research into Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.


A close-up view of microscope lenses and a glass slide illuminated with green light.



Alzheimer's Disease



Microtubule Stabilization Pathways in Alzheimer's Disease
Francesca Bartolini, PhD
Columbia University (New York, NY)

A Novel Way of Removing Toxic Material from the Brain in Early Alzheimer’s Disease
Matthew Campbell, PhD
Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)

The Impact of AB on the Spread of Tau Toxicity in the Brain
Karen Chiang, PhD
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)

Does the APOE Gene Regulate Protein Aggregation in PD?
Albert Davis, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO)

Control of Normal Tau Levels by Molecular Chaperones
Jason Gestwicki, PhD
University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

Effect of Aging and Dysfunction of Cerebral Microvasculature in Alzheimer’s Disease
Jorge Ghiso, PhD
New York University School of Medicine (New York, NY)

Network Disruption and Recovery Following Cell Loss in Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
Stacy Grunke, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)

Relative Contribution of Central vs. Peripheral Immune Cells in Cerebral Amyloid Beta Clearance
Marie-Victoire Guillot-Sestier, PhD
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

Studying Proteins in Blood to Detect Alzheimer's Disease at an Early Stage
Veer Bala Gupta, PhD
Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia)

Using a Molecular Probe to Predict the Onset of Alzheimer's Disease
Francis Hane, PhD
Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)

Spread of Alzheimer's Disease Along Neuronal Connections
Ulrich Hengst, PhD
Columbia University (New York, NY)

Identifying How Fat Hormones That Regulate Body Weight Are Affected in Alzheimer's Disease
Makoto Ishii, MD, PhD
Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University (New York, NY)

Defining the Role of Tau and Kinase Regulator Chaperone Protein Cdc37 in Alzheimer's Disease
Umesh Jinwal, PhD
University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)

Defining the Role of Phospholipase D3 in Alzheimer's Disease
Celeste Karch, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO)

Investigating Mechanisms that Link Diabetes Mellitus and Alzheimer's Disease
Frank LaFerla, PhD
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

The Role of TREM2, a Key Immune Regulating Protein, in Alzheimer’s Disease
Bruce Lamb, PhD
Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute (Cleveland, OH)

Gene Therapy with Arginine Decarboxylase and the Regulation of Tau
Daniel Lee, PhD
University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)

Genome Search for Genetic Modifiers of Alzheimer's Disease Age of Onset
Joseph H Lee, PhD
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, NY)

Decreasing Expression of a Toxic Protein in Alzheimer's Disease
Jada Lewis, PhD
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

How BACE1 Regulates Learning and Memory Through Molecular Scissors
Ming-Hsuan Ou-Yang, PhD
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

A New Way to Recover From a Concussion and Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Donald Redelmeier, MD
Sunnybrook Research Institute (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

A New Approach to Targeting Tau in Alzheimer’s Disease by Inhibiting Its Interaction With Fyn
Erik Roberson, MD, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Development of a New Model of Brain Vasculature in the Test Tube
Jerome Robert, PhD
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

How Does TREM2 Help the Brain Clean out Molecular “Garbage” that Contributes to Alzheimer’s Disease
Charles Sanders, PhD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, TN)

Alzheimer's Disease, Before Plaques and Tangles
Juan Troncoso, MD
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Harnessing Reversible Protein Aggregation to Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD
Boston University (Boston, MA)

Identifying the Role of a Brain-specific Protein Centaurin-A1, in Alzheimer’s Disease
Ryohei Yasuda, PhD
Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (Jupiter, FL)

A Personalized Medicine Approach to Developing New Alzheimer's Disease Treatments
Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University (Boston, MA)

A New Method to Predict Alzheimer's Disease
Zhentao Zhang, PhD
Emory University (Atlanta, GA)


Macular Degeneration

Window to Health: New Ways to Detect the First Signs of Cell Sickness in The Eye
Marie Burns, PhD
University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)

MicroRNAs in AMD: Novel Molecules for Future Therapies
Ivan Conte, PhD
Fondazione Telethon (Roma, Italy)

New Drugs to Treat Abnormal Blood Vessel Growth in Wet Macular Degeneration
Tim Corson, PhD
Indiana University School of Medicine (Indianapolis, IN)

Resistance to Oxidative Stress: A New Strategy for AMD
Noriko Esumi, PhD
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Identification of Protein Complexes Binding to Genomic AMD Risk Variants
Stefanie Hauck, PhD
Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen GmbH (Neuherberg, Germany)

The Role of Cell-Derived Lipid Vesicles in Early and Atrophic (Dry) AMD
Mikael Klingeborn, PhD
Duke University Eye Center (Durham, NC)

Insight into the Formation of Harmful Deposits in the Retina
Aparna Lakkaraju, PhD
University of Wisconsin System (Madison, WI)

A Novel Antioxidant Therapy for Retinal Degeneration
Alfred Lewin, PhD
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Enhancing Endogenous Protective Pathways as a Therapeutic Intervention for AMD
Qiuhong Li, PhD
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

The Role of an Immune Cell Attractant in a Blinding Disease
Goldis Malek, PhD
Duke University (Durham, NC)

Using Patient-Derived Stem Cells as a New Model to Study Disease Mechanisms in Age-related Macular Degeneration
Ernesto Moreira, MD
Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)

TLR2 as a Novel Therapeutic Target for Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Eric Yin Shan Ng, PhD
The Schepens Eye Research Institute (Boston, MA)

Scotopic Critical Flicker Fusion in Preclinical AMD
Steven Nusinowitz, PhD
Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

Can Proteins Block Inflammation in the Eye and Ameliorate AMD-Pathology?
Diana Pauly, PhD
University Hospital Regensburg (Regensburg, Germany)

Understanding the Role of Different Cells in the Eye that Are Affected in AMD
Ruchira Singh, PhD
University of Rochester Medical Center (Rochester, NY)

The Role Of Glutaredoxin 2 (Grx2) in Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Hongli Wu, PhD
University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth, TX)



Improving Cellular Degradation to Reverse the Effects of Exfoliation Syndrome
Audrey Bernstein, PhD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York, NY)

Can Exercise Protect the Optic Nerve Against Glaucoma?
Vicki Chrysostomou, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia, The University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia)

Biomarkers for Glaucoma
John W. Crabb, PhD
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Cleveland, OH)

Protecting Vision by Blocking Protein Channels
Adnan Dibas, PhD
University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth, TX)

A New Methodology to Quantify Collagen Remodeling in Glaucoma
Rafael Grytz, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Chemokine Receptor Signaling in Glaucoma
Yonju Ha, PhD
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Galveston, TX)

In Search of Genetic Causes for Glaucoma in African Populations
Caroline Klaver, MD, PhD
Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

A Novel Non-Contact Method for Early Glaucoma Diagnosis and Monitoring
Guorong Li, MD
Duke University Eye Center (Durham, NC)

Measuring the Effects of Structure on the Deformation of the Optic Nerve
Thao Nguyen, PhD
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Mechanisms of Pressure Regulation in the Eye
Darryl Overby, PhD
Imperial College London (London, England)

Effects of Glucocorticoids on Trabecular Meshwork Mechanics and Composition
Vijay Krishna Raghunathan, PhD
University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)

Validating a New Angle-Closure Glaucoma Gene
Julia Richards, PhD
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Genes Involved in Closed Angle Glaucoma
Judith West-Mays, PhD
McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)