2016 BrightFocus Research Grants Awards

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

 

close up of microscope lenses on a glass slide with green laser

 

Alzheimer's Disease

Guided by the recommendations of our Alzheimer's Disease Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce over $6.8 million for 32 new Alzheimer's research grants.  Leading scientists from around the world will begin research projects to develop new drugs, gain greater insight into protein changes in the brain, and better understand how the disease develops and progresses.

Imaging Biomarkers for Alzheimer's: New Methods to Account for Indirect Brain Connections
Iman Aganj, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)

Blood Vessel Changes in Tauopathy
Rachel Bennett, BS, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)

A High Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet for MCI and Early Alzheimer's Disease
Jason Brandt, PhD
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Depressive Symptoms, Alzheimer's Disease (AD) Proteins (Amyloid and Tau), and Neuronal Network Activity in Prodromal and Early AD
Jennifer Gatchel, MD, PhD
McLean Hospital (Belmont, MA)

Role of Axonal Lysosome Transport in Alzheimer's Disease Pathology
Swetha Gowrishankar, PhD
Yale University (New Haven, CT)

Role of Microglia in Alzheimer's Disease: Deleterious or Helpful?
Jean-Vianney Haure-Mirande, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)

Identification of Novel Compounds to Promote Synapse Health and Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Mark Henkemeyer, PhD
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

Targeting the Molecular Cause of the ApoE4-risk in Alzheimer's Disease
Joachim Herz, MD
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

Validation of Drug Candidates for Enhancing the Phagocytic Clearance in the Alzheimer's Brain
Tsuneya Ikezu, MD, PhD
Boston University (Boston, MA)

Non-Amnestic Alzheimer's Disease Biology
David Irwin, MD
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

A Novel Non-Invasive MRI-Based Biomarker of Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease
Xiong Jiang, PhD
Georgetown University (Washington, DC)

A New Method to Identify Genes Critically Involved in Alzheimer's Disease
Catherine Kaczorowski, PhD
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis, TN)

Helping the Brain to Fight Back Against Alzheimer's Disease--Using Old Drugs for New Purposes
Patrick Kehoe, BSc, PhD
University of Bristol (Bristol, United Kingdom)

A Human Cellular Alzheimer's Disease Model Based on 3D Culture Technology
Doo Yeon Kim, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)

The Effects of APOE Isoforms on Brain Functions and Alzheimer's Disease
Chia-Chen Liu, PhD
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (Jacksonville, FL)

Reorganizing the Neuronal Highway in the Alzheimer's Brain
Selene Lomoio, PhD
Tufts University School of Medicine (Boston, MA)

Sleep Quality and Decreasing Amyloid-Beta Levels in the Human Brain
Brendan Lucey, MD
Washington University School of Medicine (Saint Louis, MO)

Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Microglia-Mediated Amyloid Degradation
Wenjie Luo, PhD
Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, NY)

Understanding Brain Inflammation in Alzheimer's Disease
Zixu Mao, PhD
Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

A New Approach to Treating Alzheimer's Disease
Stephen Martin, PhD
University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

Enhancing Glutamate Levels as a Way to Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Ana Pereira, MD
The Rockefeller University (New York, NY)

Novel Drugs against a New Receptor Target to Treat Alzheimer's Disease
Dianne Perez, PhD
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Cleveland, OH)

Novel Biomarkers of Brain Microstructure in Aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Emilie Reas, PhD
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)

Profiling Prion-Like Strains of Aβ that Control Alzheimer's Progression
Jiri Safar, MD
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)

Role of VGF in Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis and Progression
Stephen Salton, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)

Blocking Assembly of Tau Protein into Toxic Structures Associated with Alzheimer's Disease
Paul Seidler, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

New Mouse Models to Study the Role of Complement in Brain Aging and Neurodegeneration
Qiaoqiao Shi, PhD
Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, MA)

Investigating the Impact of KIBRA Protein Loss on Synapse Function and Memory
Tara Tracy, PhD
The J. David Gladstone Institutes (San Francisco CA)

Separating Early AD and Aging Effects in Search of a Markers to Track Alzheimer's Treatment Effects
Laura Wisse, PhD
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

A Genetic Screen to Identify New Drug Targets for Alzheimer Disease
Huda Zoghbi, MD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)

 

Macular Degeneration

Guided by the recommendations of our Macular Degeneration Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce over $3 million for 20 new macular degeneration research grants.  Leading scientists from around the world will begin research projects to prevent inflammation, better understand geographic atrophy, and develop new treatments for patients.

Identifying Gene Pathways in Late-Stage AMD
Paul Baird, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia, The University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia)

A New Approach to Rescuing Photoreceptors from Death through Activation of Endogenous Neuroprotective Mechanisms
Petr Baranov, MD, PhD
Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Harvard) (Boston, MA)

Atrophic Lesion Borders in AMD: What Can They Tell Us?
Vera Bonilha, PhD
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Cleveland, OH)

A New Model of a Human Retina in a Dish to Study AMD
Maria Valeria Canto-Soler, PhD
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD)

Lipid Regulators of AMD
Kip Connor, PhD
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)

Characterization of Circulating Antibodies Specific to AMD
Patrick Daugherty, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara , CA)

Investigating How Loss of an “Off Switch” for Inflammation Contributes to AMD
Sarah Doyle, PhD
Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)

A New Method to Decrease Cell Death by Supplementation with NAD Metabolite
Jianhai Du, PhD
West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)

A Study of Why Retinal Support Cells, Called Glia, Exit the Retina in AMD
Malia Edwards, PhD
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Understanding the Role of Increased Vessel Stiffness in Cell Death Associated with AMD
Kaustabh Ghosh, PhD
University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA)

Basic and Clinical Studies to Understand the Role of the CD5L/AIM Protein in AMD
Francesco Giorgianni, PhD
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis, TN)

Identification of Factors that Can Stimulate Regeneration of the RPE
Jeffrey Gross, PhD
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

Too Much Debris as a Cause of AMD
Robyn Guymer, MBBS, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia, The University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia)

An Automated Method to Detect and Analyze Atrophic Lesions in AMD
Zhihong Hu, PhD
Doheny Eye Institute, UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)

A Single Genetic Manipulation for Treating ML/Dry AMD
John Hulleman, PhD
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX) 

Identification of Novel Treatments for Macular Degeneration by Alleviating Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
Marcelo Nociari, PhD
Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University (New York, NY)

Novel Therapeutic Targets for the Treatment of Early AMD
Debasish Sinha, PhD
Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD)

Transplantation of iPS-RPE as a Polarized Monolayer
Biju Thomas, PhD
University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute (Los Angeles, CA)

Biomaterial-Based Stem Cell Therapies for Blinding Eye Disease
Derek van der Kooy, PhD
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON, Canada)

 

Glaucoma

Guided by the recommendations of our National Glaucoma Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce nearly $1.8 million for 13 new glaucoma research grants.  Leading scientists from around the world will begin research projects to prevent nerve cell death, improve drainage within the eye, and develop a greater understanding of the connection between brain health and glaucoma.

Use of Patient-Derived Cells to Test Compounds that Will Reverse Exfoliation Glaucoma
Audrey Bernstein, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)

Early Brain Changes and Visual and Motor Functions in Glaucoma
Kevin Chan, PhD
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Wireless System to Measure and Control Fluid Pressure Around the Optic Nerve
J. Crawford Downs, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Identifying Underlying Pressure-Control Mechanisms in Glaucoma
Rudolf Fuchshofer, PhD
University of Regensburg (Regensburg, Germany)

Mechanism of Decreased Giant Vacuole and Pore Formation in Glaucoma
Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD
Boston University School of Medicine (Boston, MA)

A New Method to Inhibit Inflammation and Prevent Glaucoma
Meredith Gregory-Ksander, PhD
Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Boston, MA)

Low-Oxygen Mediated Proteins Play Pathological Role in Glaucoma
Shahid Husain, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)

Function and Dysfunction of Myocilin in Glaucoma: New Insight from Proteomics
Raquel Lieberman, PhD
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

Identify New Drug Targets to Lower Eye Pressure Via Outflow
Yutao Liu, MD, PhD    
Augusta University Research Institute, Inc. (Augusta, GA)

A New Treatment to Protect the Optic Nerve in Glaucoma
Gillian McLellan, PhD
University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)

Generating Retinal Ganglion Cells in a Dish to Study and Treat Glaucoma
Xiuqian Mu, MD, PhD
University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)

Understanding the Earliest Steps of Optic Nerve Cell Death in Glaucoma
Yvonne Ou, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Astrocyte Reactivity in the Glaucomatous Optic Nerve Head: Beneficial or Harmful for Vision?
Daniel Sun, PhD
Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Harvard) (Boston, MA)