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New major grant awarded to Devers/LRI

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Brad Fortune, OD, PhDThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a new $6.7 million cooperative U24 research grant to a multidisciplinary team of investigators, including Dr. Brad Fortune, O.D., Ph.D. and his lab group at Devers/Discoveries in Sight and Legacy Research Institute.

This highly competitive award is sponsored by the National Eye Institute’s Audacious Goals Initiative whose overall goal is to enhance the survival and integration of regenerated neurons in the visual system. The research supported specifically by this new grant (“Overcoming Barriers to retinal ganglion cell replacement in experimental glaucoma”, U24EY033269) will achieve critically important steps toward realizing the audacious goal of replacing retinal ganglion cells, the neurons comprising the optic nerve damaged by glaucoma.

The replacement retinal ganglion cells will be engineered and raised by Dr. Jason Meyer, Ph.D. and his lab group at Indiana University. Once matured, these cells will be transplanted into glaucomatous retina by Dr. Aris Thanos, M.D., a retina specialist at Legacy Devers, in consultation with Dr. Thomas Batiuk, M.D., Ph.D., a transplant nephrologist at Legacy Health, then assessed over time within the eye by members of Brad Fortune’s lab group, including Grant Cull, Juan Reynaud, Mickey Dunn, and others using live imaging techniques.

Successful integration of the transplanted cells into the circuitry of host retina will be assessed using a combination of electrophysiological recordings made by Dr. Benjamin Sivyer, Ph.D. and his lab group at Oregon Health and Science University, and sub-cellular microscopic studies performed by Dr. Yvonne Ou, M.D. and her lab group at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Gareth Howell, Ph.D. at The Jackson Laboratory will lend his expertise in neuroinflammation to the project and Dr. Stuart Gardiner, Ph.D. at Legacy Devers/Discoveries in Sight will lend his expertise in biostatistics for advanced analysis of project outcomes.