Through partnerships and collaborations with organizations in the vision research field, RPB leverages its resources, accelerates the development of treatments for eye diseases, and extends its capacity to fulfill its mission to prevent blindness and restore sight. As a catalyst for eye research, RPB also convenes major supporters of vision research in an effort to create a network for the further development of partnerships throughout the vision research community.
We have all been pulling in the same direction, but there is an opportunity for us to pull together more strategically and effectively.
Brian F. Hofland, PhD
AEVR's mission is to ensure the best eye and vision care for all Americans through education of congressional legislators, government policymakers, coalition partners, the media and consumers about the value of eye and vision research. It seeks to raise public awareness of eye disorders and advocates for the support of national eye research funding, particularly for the National Eye Institute (which RPB helped found in 1968). RPB's $50,000 grant is intended to support AEVR's programs including Congressional briefings, educational brochures and national attitudinal surveys.
RPB maintains a decades-long partnership with AUPO, an organization that RPB helped found in 1967 and a key ally in RPB's commitment to enrich the development of the Chairs, Directors of Research, and other leaders from departments of ophthalmology in whom RPB invests through its Unrestricted Grant Program. RPB's annual $125,000 grant to AUPO provides support for AUPO's research and training programs.
RPB's $30,000 two-year grant supports increased participation in the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Residents Retreat, a professional development experience for talented ophthalmology residents, designed to encourage pursuing a career in academic ophthalmology.
As baby boomers age and the number of people with vision problems and eye diseases increases dramatically, the nonprofit Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academy of Sciences, is conducting a study to examine the public health needs for improving U.S. vision and eye health. The IOM study aligns with RPB's overall mission to preserve and restore vision through research. Through this $50,000 grant in partial support of the $1.1 million study, RPB continues its leadership role in the vision field and further extends its collaborative funding partnerships.
The RPB/International Retinal Research Foundation Catalyst Awards for Stem Cell Research Approaches for Age-Related Macular Degeneration ("Catalyst Awards") were made possible by a donation from an anonymous donor, which was matched by the IRRF and by a bequest from the Sybil B. Harrington estate, making possible three grants at $250,000 each over four years. The 2014-only Catalyst Awards are designed to advance knowledge about AMD through novel stem cell research, providing seed funding for high-risk/ high-gain, innovative, cutting-edge research which demonstrates out-of-the-box thinking. The Catalyst grantees will also collaborate on a project related to their Catalyst work.
In partnership with the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama and private donors Susan and Dowd Ritter, RPB established the $3.75 million Research to Prevent Blindness/Susan and Dowd Ritter Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research, one of the largest endowed chairs in the history of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology. The endowment will enable the department to recruit a world-class scientist to join its existing roster of international experts in the study of blinding diseases.
As part of an initiative to meet unmet needs for those with low vision, RPB has established a two-tiered Low Vision Research Award. The first tier, in partnership with RDPFS, is an Innovations in Technology Low Vision Research Award. This $100K/year grant focuses on assistive device innovations for people who are not completely blind and have some remaining functional vision. Emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together technical expertise coupled with real-life experience with persons with low vision.
As part of an initiative to meet unmet needs for those with low vision, RPB has established a two-tiered Low Vision Research Award. The second tier, in partnership with LCIF, is a Basic Science Low Vision Research Award. This $300K grant (over 3 years) focuses on visual system damage and on brain plasticity, addressing such questions as: What happens to degraded input and how is it processed? What are the adaptive strategies in the visual pathway in response to visual impairment? How does the brain re-organize itself with visual damage? How can the visibility of objects be enhanced? What can be done to enhance the public, home, or work environment and improve visual processing for persons with low vision?
A National Eye Institute study made note of the fact that RPB was the second most frequently cited funder of international collaborations. To formalize support for this trend, the RPB/Stavros Niarchos Foundation International Research Collaborators Award, a multi-year funding partnership with one of the world's leading private international philanthropic organizations, builds and strengthens international collaborations through which researchers in the U.S. and outside the U.S. gain new knowledge and skills in exchanges to advance excellent vision science.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation makes grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare, funding organizations and projects that are expected to achieve a broad, lasting and positive impact for society at large, focusing on vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.
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