Research to Prevent Blindness

Research to Prevent Blindness Expands Grants Program

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), the leading private funder of vision research across all sight-threatening conditions, has opened a new round of grants available to researchers across the country. This new round of grants significantly expands the pool of applicants who are eligible, by making a number of individual researcher awards available to researchers at all U.S. academic medical centers, as well as opening up some awards to researchers who are in academic departments other than ophthalmology. 

Previously, the majority of RPB’s individual awards were restricted to researchers at institutions that held an active RPB unrestricted grant through its department of ophthalmology, a designation that only 37 medical schools across the country currently hold. This change in eligibility criteria is pursuant to a thoughtful and analytical Strategic Planning process undertaken by RPB’s Board of Trustees in 2017.

“We are keenly aware that excellent researchers and ideas exist within a much larger pool of departments and institutions, and indeed, that innovative and groundbreaking vision research occurs outside departments of ophthalmology as well,” says RPB President Brian F. Hofland, PhD.  “After careful consideration, RPB has decided to open select individual grants to a wider pool of applicants. We feel this is a worthwhile undertaking that allows us to access a greater breadth of researchers and gain access to more of the novel vision research occurring across the country.” 

These changes will go into effect beginning with the Fall 2018 grant cycle, for which nominations are due in June 2018 and full applications are due in July 2018. Please note that not all awards are offered during every grant cycle; therefore some awards may not be available until 2019. The full list of RPB grants that will be available to researchers at all U.S. academic medical centers is as follows:

  • RPB Stein Innovation Award (outside ophthalmology)

The RPB Stein Innovation Award (outside ophthalmology) provides funds to researchers who work outside departments of ophthalmology and have a goal of understanding the visual system and the diseases that compromise its function. This award is intended to provide seed money to proposed high-risk/high-gain vision science research which is innovative and has not previously been funded. 

  • RPB/SNF International Research Collaborators Award

The RPB/Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) International Research Collaborators Award promotes international collaborations through which researchers in the U.S. and outside the U.S. gain new knowledge and skills by spending time on-site in each other’s labs. These international collaborations have the potential to accelerate the development of treatments for blinding disorders, positively affecting large populations worldwide for years to come.

  • RPB/AAO Award for IRIS Registry Research (available Spring 2019)

The RPB/American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Award for IRIS Registry Research supports researchers who want to use AAO’s IRIS® Registry database to conduct population-based studies in ophthalmology and blindness prevention. The grants will help clinical researchers leverage this unique, growing resource for the advancement of patient care.

  • RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research (available Spring 2019)

The RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research was initiated to strengthen and promote research to improve the diagnosis and/or treatment of amblyopia. Grants are available to assist exceptional ophthalmic scientists doing research of unusual significance and promise in this area.

  • RPB/LCIF* Low Vision Research Award (available Spring 2019)

The RPB/Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)* Low Vision Research serves as a catalyst to launch brand new lines of research which target damage to the visual system. The research should seek to answer 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; and how can the visibility of objects be enhanced?

*assumes collaborative funding

For more information on these grants, including award descriptions, eligibility criteria and deadlines, please visit RPB’s Grants for Individuals webpage.

For questions about the RPB grants program, please contact Grants Administrator Patricia Moran at or 646-892-9566. 



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