2018 BrightFocus Research Grants Awards

2018 BrightFocus Grant Awards

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


Alzheimer's Disease

Guided by the recommendations of our Alzheimer's Disease Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce more than $9.1 million for 41 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.

Identifying How Tau Impairs Nerve Cell Communication in Alzheimer’s Disease
Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD
Columbia University (New York, NY)

Role of the Microglial Protein Tyrobp in the Pathogenesis of Tauopathy
Mickael Audrain, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)

A New Immune Molecule in the Inflamed Alzheimer's Brain
Wei Cao, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)

ApoE4’s Effects on Blood Proteins and Brain Function in Alzheimer's Disease
Joseph Castellano, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)

Recognizing a “Retinal Fingerprint” for Alzheimer’s Using Artificial Intelligence1
Carol Y. Cheung, PhD
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China)

Stabilizing Proteins to Prevent Amyloid Build-up in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Brett Collins, PhD
The University of Queensland (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Using Brain Slices to Understand and Target Tau in Alzheimer's Disease
Cara Croft, PhD
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Clarifying the Role of the ABCA7 Gene on Alzheimer’s Risk
Holly Cukier, PhD
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (Coral Gables, FL)

Developing a New Alzheimer’s Drug that Improves Lipid Metabolism in the Brain1
Weiwei Fan, PhD
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, CA)

Arousal-Induced Memory Selectivity in Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
Sara Gallant, PhD
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

A Bioinformatics Approach to Identifying Disease Mechanisms in Tauopathy1
Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD
University of California (Los Angeles, CA)

Mechanism of Neuronal Death in Alzheimer’s Disease1
Charles Glabe, PhD
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

Tissue and Data Repository Network for Down Syndrome
Ann-Charlotte Granholm-Bentley, PhD, DDS
Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging, University of Denver (Denver, Colorado)

Improving Recruitment to Prodromal Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trials1
Joshua Grill, PhD
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

A Novel Therapeutic Device to Clear Axonal Blocks to Prevent Alzheimer's
Shermali Gunawardena, PhD
State University of New York at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)

Rapid Assessment of Cognition using Smartphones to Track Early Alzheimer’s Changes
Jason Hassenstab, PhD
Washington University (St. Louis, MO)

How Autophagy Recognizes and Degrades Alzheimer’s Disease-Causing Amyloids in the Brain
Congcong He, PhD
Northwestern University (Chicago, IL)

Studying a Type of Tau Protein that Specifically Aggregates in Alzheimer’s Disease Brains1
Zhuohao He, PhD
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

The Impact off 'Silent' Small Strokes on Brain Function and Alzheimer's Development
Saima Hilal, PhD
Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Characterization of Waste Clearance Pathways in the Vertebrate Brain
Benjamin Hogan, PhD
The University of Queensland (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Defining the Role of CXCR4 in Alzheimer's Disease
Celeste Karch, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO)

Identifying and Treating Agitation/Aggression in Dementia Using Non- invasive Brain Stimulation
Sanjeev Kumar, MD, FRCPC
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Decreasing a Genetic Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s and its Effect on Pathology and Cognition
Timothy Miller, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO)

A Novel Mechanism of Neuronal Disconnection in Early Stage Alzheimer’s1
Goonho Park, PhD
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)

Can Good Sleep Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?
Stephanie Rainey-Smith, PhD
Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia)

Evaluating the Role of Ethnicity, Race, and Genetic Ancestry in Alzheimer’s Disease
Farid Rajabli, PhD
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (Coral Gables, FL)

Why Is Brain Glucose Uptake Reduced in Alzheimer’s Disease?1
Alex Smith, PhD
University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

How Connections in the Brain Break Down in Alzheimer's Disease
Jeremy Strain, PhD
Washington University (St. Louis, MO)

Identifying a DNA Change that Reduces ApoE Risk in Alzheimer’s Disease
Jeffery Vance, MD, PhD
University of Miami (Miami, FL)

A New Approach to Treating Tauopathy by Lowering Apolipoprotein E Level
Chao Wang, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO)

A New Method to Assess Cellular Dysfunction in Alzheimer's Using Human Neurons
Jessica Young, PhD
University of Washington School of Medicine (Seattle, WA)

Regulating ApoE and the Effects on Insulin Signaling and Energy Metabolism in the Alzheimer’s Brain
Na Zhao, MD, PhD
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (Jacksonville, FL)

A Novel Approach for Memory Improvement in Alzheimer's Disease
Yingjun Zhao, PhD
Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (La Jolla, CA)


Macular Degeneration

Guided by the recommendations of our Macular Degeneration Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce more than $2.3million for 18 new macular degeneration research grants.  Leading scientists from around the world will begin research projects to prevent inflammation, better understand advanced macular degeneration, and develop new treatments for patients.

Thyroid Hormone Regulation in Retinal Degeneration
Xi-Qin Ding, PhD
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City, OK)

The Relationship Between Genetic Predisposition and Age in AMD
Rosario Fernandez-Godino, PhD
Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)

A Novel Method to Treat Both the Wet and Dry Forms of AMD
Yingbin Fu, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)

Conditional Control of Inflammation in Retinal Degenerative Diseases
John Hulleman, PhD
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

A New Method to Regulate Gene Expression Pathways in AMD
Mark Kleinman, MD
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN)

The Role of "Good Cholesterol" in AMD
Chi Luu, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia (Melbourne, Australia)

Reawakening the Ability of the Damaged Retina to Regenerate and Restore Vision
Ross Poche, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)

Investigation of a New Target in AMD
Magali Saint-Geniez, PhD
Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)

Using Genetics and Retinal Imaging to Predict Progression to Advanced AMD
William Scott
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (Coral Gables, FL)

Understanding the Role of Sleep Apnea Syndrome in AMD
Florian Sennlaub, MD, PhD
Institut de la Vision (Paris, France)

Role of Diet and Gut Microbes in Macular Degeneration
Dimitra Skondra, MD, PhD
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Identifying Drugs that Block AMD Using Stem Cells with AMD-associated Mutations1
Karl Wahlin, PhD
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)

A New Imaging Method to Predict Neovascular AMD
Ji Yi, PhD
Boston Medical Center (Boston, MA)


Glaucoma

Guided by the recommendations of our National Glaucoma Research Scientific Review Committee, we are pleased to announce nearly $2 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.

A Novel Dual-active Compound to Treat Glaucoma
Suchismita Acharya, PhD
UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth (Fort Worth, TX)

Detecting Iris Stiffening and Its Significance in Certain Types of Glaucoma
Rouzbeh Amini, PhD
The University of Akron (Akron, OH)

Amish Study to Understand Glaucoma Genetics
Jessica Cooke Bailey, PhD
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)

Next Generation Experimental Glaucoma Model1
John Danias, MD, PhD
SUNY Health Science Center (Brooklyn, NY)

Genetically Engineering Brown Norway Rats to Find Cures for Glaucoma
F. Kent Hamra, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

Studying Gene Regulation Networks in Retinal Ganglion Cells for Novel Neuroprotective Targets
Yang Hu, MD, PhD
Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

Developing a New Imaging Method for Sensitive Detection of Early Glaucoma Damage
Xiangrun Huang, PhD
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (Coral Gables, FL)

New Glaucoma Models1
Monica Jablonski, PhD
University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis, TN)

A Key MicroRNA That Controls Eye Pressure
Yuan Lei, PhD
Eye and ENT hospital of Fudan University (Shanghai, China)

Treating Glaucoma with Naturally Derived Nano-Particles from Stem Cells
Biji Mathew, PhD
University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, IL)

A Study to Define the Link between Cell Adhesion and Retinal Ganglion Cell Death1
Robert W. Nickells, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)

A New Method to Detect Glaucoma by Examining Changes in Blood Vessels in the Eye
Jason Porter, PhD
University of Houston (Houston, TX)

More Sensitive Methods for Studying the Onset of Glaucoma
Benjamin Sivyer, PhD
Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, OR)


1 Pending contract negotiations and/or approved content. This award was offered as of March 2018.

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