NEWS | February 16, 2000



The UC Davis School of Medicine has been awarded a $375,000 Jules and Doris Stein Research to Prevent Blindness Professorship to support eye research by John S. Werner, a new member of the UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology.

The award represents the first time that the UC Davis School of Medicine has received a Jules and Doris Stein Professorship, granted by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The support is provided over a five-year period and may be supplemented by an additional $100,000 in matching funds to help renovate and equip laboratory space.

Werner, whose appointment to the UC Davis faculty took effect January 1, is the director of the ophthalmology department's Visual Psychophysics Research Program. He has a second appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior Section of the Division of Biological Sciences.

Werner has an international reputation for his psychophysical studies of human vision from infancy to old age. Among his more notable research projects are some of the earliest and best studies on vision in the human infant; a large contribution to the scientific literature on the aging visual system; and studies of the mechanisms of human color vision. He also has investigated fundamental questions regarding light and its effect on aging of the macula, an area of the retina responsible for central vision. This work is crucially important in the area of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

At UC Davis, Werner will continue his work on the normal aging of the visual system while expanding into new areas of research involving clinical populations, primarily those at risk for the development of age-related retinal disease. Funding from the Jules and Doris Stein professorship is expected to provide substantial support for the new research efforts. Other research areas will involve the consequences of various refractive surgeries, evaluations of surgical treatments for age-related retinal diseases, and assessments of medications intended to provide neuroprotection in glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Werner was most recently a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he served as both professor and chair. He has been invited to deliver lectures internationally and is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize (Bonn, Germany). He received his doctoral degree in psychology from Brown University.

RPB is the world's leading voluntary organization supporting eye research, and the Jules and Doris Stein RPB Professorship is the top prize of this organization's awards. In fact, it is the most prestigious professorship provided by any ophthalmologic research foundation in the world. Only 37 scientists have been approved to receive the Jules and Doris Stein RPB Professorship since the award was established in 1984. Since RPB was founded in 1960, it has channeled more than $172 million to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding eye diseases.

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