NEWS | September 14, 1998



Ophthalmologists at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center have received a $100,000 grant and a $20,000 Research Manpower Award from Research to Prevent Blindness to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases.

John L. Keltner, professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, received an award of $100,000 to support ongoing research in the Department of Ophthalmology. Research to Prevent Blindness, a voluntary organization that has awarded more than $1,133,900 to the UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology and over $157 million to medical institutions throughout the United States, has had a vital impact on several key research projects conducted by ophthalmology department faculty.

Significant progress has been made in the diabetic eye research conducted by Leonard Hjelmeland, Lawrence Morse and James Handa, while corneal physician Mark Mannis continues to develop the use of defensins in the eye and Ivan Schwab continues his research to develop new methodologies for conjunctival transplants.

Chris Johnson and Keltner continue as co-directors of the Visual Field Reading Center for the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, a multi-million dollar collaborative trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute. Also, Keltner and Charles Thirkill are progressing in their investigation into cancer associated retinopathy, while James Brandt, Fitz-Roy Curry and Martha O'Donnell continue working on their outstanding discovery regarding the basic mechanisms in glaucoma.

"The excellent research in the Department of Ophthalmology at UC Davis continues to progress, enabled by the tremendous support from Research to Prevent Blindness," said Keltner.

James Handa, assistant professor in ophthalmology, received the Research Manpower Award to support his continued research in how advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), chemicals that have been linked to age associated diseases, induce aging of the tissue involved in macular degeneration. Currently, the cause of macular degeneration is not known, and no effective treatment is available. Handa studies how early macular degenerative changes evolve in order to develop preventative or early treatments for this blinding disease.

Keltner said, "The Research to Prevent Blindness Research Manpower Award is in recognition of Dr. Handa's outstanding research in the causes of age-related macular degeneration."

RPB is the largest voluntary organization supporting eye research, providing research funds to 60 medical schools nationwide.


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