NEWS | September 7, 2005



The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center has received a grant of $110,000 from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases.

RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. To date, the organization has awarded grants totaling $2,568,900 to the Department of Ophthalmology. RPB’s annual grant supports a broad spectrum of research within the Department of Ophthalmology:

• Lawrence Morse and Leonard Hjelmeland investigate a variety of problems of the diabetic eye and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

• Mark Mannis continues investigation and development of antimicrobial peptides as well as substances with oxidative, bacterial-killing mechanisms and their application to vision threatening infections of the cornea. He also is investigating new diagnostic approaches for ocular rosacea.

• Ivan Schwab is creating a bioengineered ocular surface that may have a use in other membrane areas, such as the in the lungs. The manner in which ocular surface disease is treated could be changed by spraying a living, growing mucous membrane bandage onto the surface of the eye, eliminating the need for sutures (stitches).

• James Brandt collaborates with investigators in the Department of Physiology to explore new mechanisms and associated therapies for glaucoma. Glaucoma patients seem to have more health concerns and somatic complaints than normal subjects, possibly because of the number of systemic and ocular medications taken. Brandt also is a principal investigator in the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, with particular responsibility for the OHTS’ investigations of the impact of corneal thickness on the diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

• John Keltner remains principal investigator of the Visual Field Reading Center (VFRC) for the OHTS study, determining the efficacy of treatment in preventing or delaying the onset of glaucoma in ocular hypertensive patients. The VFRC has found that changes in both visual fields and optic discs must be monitored equally because either may be harbingers of damage from glaucoma.

• Michele Lim’s basic research focuses on understanding ocular blood flow, while her clinical work revolves around optic nerve imaging and the possible relationship between personality type and glaucoma.

• Charles Thirkill collaborates with Morse and Keltner to find a means of identifying immunologic aspects of ARMD and Cancer-Induced Autoimmune Retinopathies.

• John Werner’s research focuses on normal aging and ARMD. He is developing a high-resolution adaptive optics system for psychophysical studies and retinal imaging.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to


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