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Research to Prevent Blindness

Research to Prevent Blindness and Alcon Award Glaucoma Grant

NEW YORK — December 7, 2023 — Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is pleased to announce the recipient of the RPB / David Epstein Career Advancement Award in Glaucoma Research sponsored by Alcon: Alex Huang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The Career Advancement Award assists outstanding early-career vision scientists in pursuit of ongoing research of unusual significance and promise. This one-time award of $150,000 is available to candidates who have already received their first National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grant and are collecting new data to apply for a second NIH R01 grant, which has been identified as a critical “gap” in funding by RPB’s Scientific Advisory Panel. Filling this gap allows talented researchers to build upon previous research and make important advances in vision science.

This award focuses on research related to glaucoma, a progressive condition that affects the transmission of visual signals from the eye to the brain and which is one of the most common sight-threatening conditions in the U.S.

The awardee, Dr. Huang, will study why some glaucoma filtration surgeries fail and will devise methods to improve surgical success for stronger eye pressure lowering and neuroprotection in glaucoma patients.

"Bleb-forming glaucoma surgeries are some of our oldest surgeries to lower eye pressure and treat glaucoma. They are also some of our strongest surgeries and thus often the primary choice for treating the most advanced glaucoma cases. However, their outcomes can be unpredictable with eye pressure that is not reduced or complications that are experienced by the patient. Thus, we need to improve the efficacy and safety of these treatments,” said Dr. Huang. “Our hope is two-fold. We hope to use state-of-the-art RNA sequencing methods to better understand the molecular pathways and cell-types that cause surgical failure. Using these results, we can devise countermeasures against these targets to prevent failure. Then, we hope to improve the ability of fluid to leave these surgeries by promoting lymphatic growth into the surgery. This way, the surgeries allow more fluid to exit the eye and lower eye pressure to a greater extent.”

This award is named in memory of David L. Epstein, MD (1943-2014), a gifted glaucoma researcher who served on RPB’s grant review committees and who went on to co-found Aerie Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Alcon last year.

“At Alcon, we are committed to supporting the advancement of research and science for many eye care conditions, including glaucoma, in our pursuit to help people see brilliantly,” said Franck Leveiller, Chief Scientific Offer and Global Head, R&D, Alcon. “That’s why we are honored to continue the legacy of Dr. Epstein through this grant and congratulate Dr. Huang on being the recipient of this special award.”

For more information on RPB grants, visit www.rpbusa.org.

About Research to Prevent Blindness 

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is the leading nonprofit organization supporting eye research directed at the prevention, treatment or eradication of all diseases that damage and destroy sight. As part of this purview, RPB also supports efforts to grow and sustain a robust and diverse vision research community. Since it was founded in 1960 by Dr. Jules Stein, RPB has awarded more than $413 million in research grants to the most talented vision scientists at the nation’s leading medical schools. As a result, RPB has been associated with nearly every major breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of vision loss in the past 60+ years. Learn more at www.rpbusa.org.

About Alcon

Alcon helps people see brilliantly. As the global leader in eye care with a heritage spanning over 75 years, we offer the broadest portfolio of products to enhance sight and improve people’s lives. Our Surgical and Vision Care products touch the lives of people in over 140 countries each year living with conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive errors. Our more than 25,000 associates are enhancing the quality of life through innovative products, partnerships with Eye Care Professionals and programs that advance access to quality eye care. Learn more at www.alcon.com

 

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