BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation Recognizes Innovators in Vision Research

The annual BrightFocus Vision Research Awards honor outstanding scientists who are advancing macular degeneration and glaucoma research.
  • Press Release
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2024 award recipients with BrightFocus staff.
2024 award recipients with BrightFocus staff. From left: Diane Bovenkamp, PhD, BrightFocus; Hannah Youngblood, PhD; Miguel Flores Bellver, PhD; Samuel Herberg, PhD; John Han, PhD; Krishna Singh, PhD; and Preeti Subramanian, PhD, BrightFocus.

SEATTLE (May 9, 2024)— BrightFocus Foundation recognized five vision scientists for their innovative research focused on preventing, treating, and curing macular degeneration and glaucoma, diseases with no cure that affect 280 million people worldwide. The awards ceremony took place on May 6 during the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). 

The named awards recognize the top-ranked grant proposals for BrightFocus' Macular Degeneration Research and National Glaucoma Research programs. Grant recipients are determined by an independent scientific review committee of leading eye and vision experts. BrightFocus currently has 157 active neuroscience research projects, a $43 million investment, and 119 active vision research projects, a $30 million investment. This research fosters a better understanding of the root causes of disease onset, improves early disease detection and diagnosis, and helps develop effective treatments and new drugs.     

This year, BrightFocus awarded 19 new vision research grants to scientists exploring such topics as innovative vision tests to monitor treatment effects in age-related macular degeneration (AMD); early events in AMD; the relationship between light, sleep, and mood disorders in glaucoma; and the resilience of certain types of retina ganglion cells in glaucoma. 

“We were honored to recognize our new vision grant recipients whose novel and forward-thinking ideas are moving us closer to a world without these vision diseases,” said Stacy Pagos Haller, President and CEO, BrightFocus Foundation.    

The recipients of this year's named awards are:

Macular Degeneration Research 

  • Krishna Singh, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine—Elizabeth Anderson Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

  • John Han, PhD, University of Michigan— Helen Juanita Reed Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

  • Miguel Flores Bellver, PhD, University of Colorado Anschutz—Dr. Joe G. Hollyfield New Investigator Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

National Glaucoma Research 

  • Samuel Herberg, PhD, The State University of New York Upstate Medical University—Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award for National Glaucoma Research 

  • Hannah Youngblood, PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology—Thomas R. Lee Award for National Glaucoma Research 

The ARVO Annual Meeting is the world’s largest gathering of eye and vision researchers—including over 11,000 registered scientists this year. BrightFocus Foundation provided funding support behind nearly 70 presentations at the conference and travel stipends for 12 attendees from 7 countries. Half of the travel grants provided to scientists for this year’s meeting were diversity awards to support women in science.   

BrightFocus funds international eye and brain research and provides free expert health information to the public; the nonprofit has awarded grants in 25 countries across more than 6,000 scientists, an investment of nearly $300 million. For more information about upcoming international research grant opportunities, visit  

About the Awards

Elizabeth Anderson Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

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

Helen Juanita Reed Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

Helen Reed, known as Nita to her friends, was an incredibly generous philanthropist, leader, volunteer, and loving friend throughout her life. Nita, who had macular degeneration, is remembered for her incredible commitment to our mission. This award is in memory of Nita and her desire to help accelerate research to unravel the mysteries of AMD and is presented annually to the top-rated Fellowship proposal.  

Dr. Joe G. Hollyfield New Investigator Award for Macular Degeneration Research 

This award is presented annually to the top-rated New Investigator Grant recipient for exceptionally promising and forward-thinking ideas in age-related macular degeneration. It honors the contributions of Joe G. Hollyfield, PhD, to the field of age-related macular degeneration research and for his leadership at BrightFocus as chair of the Macular Degeneration Research Scientific Review Committee. During the 20 years he served in this capacity, he carefully guided BrightFocus to expand its support for early-career investigators, helping to grow and shape the future of vision research around the globe.  

An international authority on vision research and author of over 200 papers on the cell and developmental biology of the retina, Dr. Hollyfield is renowned for his contributions to the science of saving sight. During his long career spanning five decades, he has been recognized with 10 major research awards, including the BrightFocus Scientific Impact Award. 

Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award for Glaucoma Research 

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 National Glaucoma Research Scientific Review Committee. Each year we bestow this award in recognition of exceptionally promising and forward-thinking ideas in the field of glaucoma.  

Thomas R. Lee Award for Glaucoma Research 

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


About BrightFocus 

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier global nonprofit funder of research to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Through its flagship research programs — Alzheimer’s Disease Research, National Glaucoma Research, and Macular Degeneration Research — the Foundation has awarded nearly $300 million in groundbreaking research funding over the past 50 years and shares the latest research findings, expert information, and resources to empower the millions impacted by these devastating diseases. Learn more at  


Media Contacts  

Kaci Baez 
BrightFocus Foundation