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BrightFocus Foundation Announces Major Vision Research Awards

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Leading Researchers Recognized for Science to Save Sight

May 3, 2021—BrightFocus Foundation, a leading private funder of scientific research on diseases of mind and sight, today announced its 2021 named awards for macular degeneration and glaucoma research at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

The virtual conference brings together thousands of scientists from more than 75 countries, and at this year’s meeting more than 60 research projects being presented were funded by BrightFocus through its Macular Degeneration Research and National Glaucoma Research programs.

“BrightFocus is proud to partner with these outstanding scientists on their bold, innovative research to save sight. They are forging paths to new, great discoveries, and embody why this is such an exciting, hopeful time for vision research,” said Diane Bovenkamp, PhD, BrightFocus Vice President for Scientific Affairs.

The BrightFocus 2021 named awards in vision research are:

Macular Degeneration Research

The Elizabeth Anderson Award
Recipient: Antonio Escudero Paniagua, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

The Lorraine Maresca Award
Recipient: Aparna Lakkaraju, PhD, University of California, San Francisco

National Glaucoma Research

The Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award
Recipient: Robert Zawadski, PhD, University of California, Davis

The Thomas R. Lee Award
Recipient: Roman Cartoni, PhD, Duke University

Additionally, BrightFocus honored the 2020 named awards winners who were unable to recognized last year:

Macular Degeneration Research

The Elizabeth Anderson Award
Recipient: Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, PhD, University of California, Irvine

National Glaucoma Research

Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award
Recipient: Kimberly Gokoffski, MD, PhD, University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute

Thomas R. Lee Award
Recipient: Richard Libby, PhD, University of Rochester Medical Center


BrightFocus has supported over 275 projects, a $60 million investment, over the past three years alone. Please visit to learn more.

The Elizabeth Anderson Award

This award, selected by the Anderson family, is presented annually in honor of Mrs. Anderson, the beloved wife of Dr. Robert (Gene) Anderson, a longstanding member of the BrightFocus Scientific Review Committee for Macular Degeneration Research. Mrs. Anderson was dedicated to the vision research community and took particular interest in young scientists who she shepherded through the difficulties of their early careers.

The Douglas H. Johnson Award

This award is presented annually to the top-rated proposal in the National Glaucoma Research program. Beyond his strong record of contributions to the glaucoma field, Dr. Johnson is fondly remembered at BrightFocus for his many years of service as Chair of the Scientific Review Committee for our National Glaucoma Research program. Each year we bestow this award in recognition of exceptionally promising and forward-thinking ideas in the field of glaucoma.

The Thomas R. Lee Award

Mr. Lee was a farmer, businessman, investor, real estate developer, and philanthropist. Motivated by his battle with glaucoma, Thomas R. Lee bequeathed a significant gift to ensure continuous funding for research. This award is presented annually to distinguished projects that make significant contributions to his vision for a world without glaucoma.

The Lorraine Maresca Award

This award is made possible because of the generosity of Lorraine Maresca who left a very generous legacy gift to Macular Degeneration Research in her will. Originally from New York, Lorraine lived in Florida for more than 30 years and loved being part of her neighborhood network there. She was an avid gardener and participated in many senior community activities. Lorraine was diagnosed with macular degeneration and lost sight in one eye. Through her gift, Lorraine's legacy lives on.