NEWS | September 7, 2005

UC Davis opthalmology department receives $110,000 research award to prevent blindness


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

Research to Prevent Blindness is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. The grant will support a broad spectrum of research under way by UC Davis ophthalmologists:

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

• Mark Mannis researches antimicrobial peptides and substances with oxidative, bacterial-killing properties to treat vision-threatening infections of the cornea. He also investigates new diagnostic approaches for ocular rosacea.

• Ivan Schwab is creating a bioengineered ocular surface that has potential applications in other membrane areas, such as the lungs. The manner in which diseases of the ocular surface are treated could be changed by spraying a living, growing mucous membrane bandage onto the surface of the eye, eliminating the need for stitches.

• James Brandt collaborates with investigators in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology to explore new mechanisms and associated therapies for glaucoma. As a principal investigator in the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, he also studies the impact of corneal thickness on the diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

• John Keltner is principal investigator of the Visual Field Reading Center for the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, which assesses treatments to prevent or delay the onset of glaucoma in ocular hypertensive patients. The reading center has found that changes in both visual field and optic discs must be monitored equally because either may be harbingers of glaucoma damage.

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

• Charles Thirkill collaborates with Morse and Keltner to identify immunologic aspects of age-related macular degeneration and cancer-induced autoimmune retinopathies.

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

Since it was founded in 1960, Research to Prevent Blindness has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States and over $2.6 million in grants to UC Davis for research into all blinding eye diseases. For information about Research to Prevent Blindness, visit For more information about the UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, visit


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