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Research into Age-related Macular Degeneration

Past Research Grants

*This section is still under construction and does not represent the full list

2022 AMDF Research Grants

AMDF Breakthrough Award (for Stargardt’s)

To Martin-Paul Agbaga, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, to optimize and create methods for efficient delivery of very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids to the retina, and to determine if these fatty acids will rescue retinal defects due to a form of Stargardt macular degeneration (STGD3). Success of this study will have broader impact on treating not only STGD3 but will extend to clinical trials for AMD. 

AMDF Breakthrough Award

To Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH and Saghar Bagheri, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, for a two-year study to determine how the time from the onset of wet AMD symptoms to the first anti-VEGF injection correlates to short-term and long-term visual outcomes. Findings from this investigation may lead to a change in referral and treatment protocols worldwide. 

AMDF Prevention Award

To Allen Taylor, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, Development, Molecular & Chemical Biology, & Ophthalmology, Tufts University, for a multi-year study to confirm the benefits of a low glycemic index diet in slowing AMD and, possibly, reversing symptoms. Results from this study will be used to obtain funding from the National Eye Institute for a larger investigation, with the goal of redefining nutritional guidelines for AMD patients and those at risk.

AMDF/RPB Catalyst Award

To Claudio Punzo, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, a three-year, co-funding commitment with Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., to develop a siRNA (small interfering RNA) therapy for wet AMD that silences the activity of a gene that governs production of faulty blood vessels, and would require many fewer treatments than current anti-VEGF eye injections.

AMDF Breakthrough Award (extension) 

To Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, Director of Retina, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science & Director of the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, to elucidate new biological pathways involved in AMD, identify proteins of interest and regulators of the genes, and identify new therapeutic targets. Visit the Seddon lab.

AMDF Breakthrough Award (extension) 

To Neena Haider, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, for gene-based interventions that could attenuate the progression of AMD, and possibly prevent its development. 

Palmino Gioioso / AMDF Young Researcher Leadership Award 

To Shun-Yun Cheng, a post-doctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Claudio Punzo, PhD (AMDF/RPB Catalystawardee), at University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, to pursue her investigations of the proposed role for photoreceptors as initiators in the development of AMD.

AMDF / ARVO Travel Grants 

To the Association of Researchers in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), for costs associated with the attendance of young AMD researchers to the ARVO annual meeting.

Ryutaro Akiba, MD, PhD, University of Washington 

Giulia Corradetti, MD, Doheny Eye Institute, UCLA

2021 AMDF Research Grants 

AMDF Breakthrough Award

To Michael Berry II, PhD, Associate Professor, Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Co-Director, Program in Neuroscience, Princeton University (and CEO of Optimal Acuity Corp.), in the amount of $100,000 for research supporting the next phase of clinical testing of Corneal Photovitrification (CPV), a new corneal laser procedure, already in use in Canada, for vision improvement in patients with late-stage, dry or wet age-related macular degeneration and other retinal disorders, including those with Best disease and Stargardt disease. The findings will be used to obtain FDA approval of CPV in the United States.  

AMDF Thrive Award

To Bonnielin Swenor, PhD, MPH, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, in the amount of $243,000 for research that will develop and test a prototype of the Low Vision Connect App, a mobile technology platform to connect patients with visual impairments (including macular degeneration), in peer-to-peer mentoring relationships around the experiences of living with vision loss. In preliminary qualitative studies, low vision patients have indicated that peer-to-peer relationships with other visually impaired individuals is critical to their social, psychological, and functional well-being. This grant will be paid in two installments and is made in collaboration with the International Retina Research Foundation (IRRF), which will be providing an additional $200,000 to the project. 

Palmino Gioioso / AMDF Young Researcher Leadership Award 

To Dimitrios Ntentakis, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI), and a member of the MEEI Angiogenesis Laboratory, for the development of an oxygen-based nanotechnology to facilitate targeted delivery of therapeutic agents intraocularly in a non-invasive manner.

AMDF Breakthrough Award (extension) 

To Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, Director of Retina, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science & Director of the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence, University of Massachusetts Medical School for studies of genes associated with macular degeneration.

AMDF Breakthrough Award (extension) 

To Neena Haider, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School for gene-based interventions that could lead to treatments or cures for retinal disorders, including AMD. 

AMDF / ARVO Travel Grants 

To the Association of Researchers in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) for costs associated with the online attendance of young AMD researchers to the ARVO annual meeting. (Due to COVID pandemic cancellation of the 2020 ARVO annual meeting and the live 2021 ARVO annual meeting, 2021 grantees presented their research via video and 2020 travel grants were rolled into 2021 grants.) 

Henri Leinonen
University of California Irvine
Abstract title: A disease-modifying therapy for retinal degenerations by drug repurposing

Bright Ashimatey
University of Southern California
Abstract title: Regional Capillary Density and Retinal Vascular Reactivity of the Healthy Human Retina

Guangying Ma
University of Illinois at Chicago
Abstract title: In vivo optoretinography reveals photoreceptor inner segment ellipsoid as the signal source of the second hyperreflective OCT band of outer retina

Elizabeth Dugan
University of Louisville School of Medicine
Abstract title: TNF-α Inhibitors and Risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rayne Lim
University of Washington
Abstract title: A novel CFH mutation affects FHL-1 expression and metabolism in EOMD patient derived iPSC-RPE.

Margarete Karg
Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Abstract title: In vivo epigenetic reprogramming reverses the age-induced morphological decline of retinal pigment epithelial cells

Aneesha Ahluwalia
Yale University School of Medicine
Abstract title: Influence of the Topographic Location of Geographic Atrophy on Vision-related Quality of Life in Nonexudative Age-related Macular Degeneration

Edward Xie
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Chicago Medical School
Abstract title: Drug-Gene Association Analysis to Identify Novel AMD Therapeutics

Sangeetha Kandoi
University of California San Francisco
Abstract title: Development of a novel iPSC-derived 3D-retinal organoid model system from cone-dominant Tree Shrews

Aindrila Saha
University of Wisconsin System
Abstract title: Cone photoreceptors in human retinal organoids demonstrate robust light-evoked function.

AMDF/Fight for Sight (FFS) Awards

SSF to Weilin Song, Cleveland Clinic
Post-Doc to Tran M. Tu, University of California, Davis
Using advanced imaging techniques to determine the effectiveness of a one-time-injection gene therapy to suppress the development of the leaky blood vessels that cause sudden and dramatic vision loss in the later stages of wet AMD.

Post-Doc to Kalila Walsh, University of California, Santa Barbara
Seeking to develop a new stem cell treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration using a method which would replace animal products with chemicals, paving the way for a cheaper, faster way of making these cells available to patients.

Post-Doc to Brian Allen, University of Washington, Seattle
Visual cortex reorganization in individuals with scotomas

Harvard Biennial AMD Symposium 
This grant supports senior researcher presentations at this biennial gathering of thought leaders in AMD research.

SSF to Michael Butler, U. of Oklahoma, Health Sciences Center 
Cone photoreceptor degeneration.

SSF to Samantha Agron, University of Miami
Retinal degeneration.

SSF to Patrick Staropoli, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Mentor: Byron Lam, MD
Quantification of photosensitivity in patients with hereditary retinal degenerations.

SSF to Jennifer Williams, Boston University
Mentor: Jean Spencer, PhD
Using molecular dynamics simulations to understand mechanisms of neovascularization.

SSF to Carmel Moazez, John Hopkins University, Wilmer Eye Institute
Mentor: Akrit Sodhi, MD, PhD
Hypoxia inducible factor protects retinal pigment epithelium cells from oxidative stress-induced cell death in dry age-related macular degeneration.

SSF to Sarwar Zahid, Clinical Research Fellow at University of Michigan
Mentor: Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, MD
Conducted retrospective studies to determine genotype-phenotype relationships in Stargardt disease, retinitis pigmentosa, and achromatopsia. Developed a novel means of quantifying severity in patients with dry macular degeneration. Coordinated and managed multiple research projects in the retina department.

SSF to Jane Gilmore 
Retinal Foundation of the Southwest