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IU School of Medicine researchers land grants to support vision research

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The researchers and their grants are:

  • Shekhar Gangaraju, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Cellular & Integrative Physiology and the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine; and Keith March, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine and professor of medicine, physiology and biomedical engineering at the Indiana University School of Medicine, $7,500 each from the Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation and the Knights Templar Foundation of Wisconsin for vascular research.
  • Yang Sun, M.D., Ph.D. a physician researcher at the Glick Eye Institute, $10,000 Mentoring for Advancement of Physician-Scientists Award from the American Glaucoma Society and funded by Allergan.
  • Tim Corson, Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Department of Ophthalmology, $8,500 from the Carl Marshall Reeves and Mildred Almen Reeves Foundation in Columbus, Ind., a charity that funds age-related macular degeneration research.

Dr. Sun said his funding will be used to establish a national database for children with congenital glaucoma, allowing pediatric glaucoma specialists to send patients and their tissue samples to a biobank for future biochemical and genetic analysis.  

“When glaucoma occurs in children, it deprives sight and severely impacts the lives of children and their families,” Dr. Sun said. “Only a few of the genes that cause these childhood glaucomas have been identified. Therefore, there is a critical need to establish a biobank for congenital glaucoma samples and to identify novel genes in glaucoma.”

Dr. Sun said childhood glaucomas present challenges because of the small number of patients. “The national biobank for congenital glaucoma samples will help us to identify novel genes and to establish the glaucoma-relevant database for future translational studies,” he said.

Dr. Corson and his team are conducting research into retinoblastoma, melanoma and age-related macular degeneration.

“This funding will cover the reagent costs for the next step of Halesha Basavarajappa’s natural product project, isolating compound binding proteins,” Dr. Corson said. Basavarajappa is working on his doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the IU School of Medicine. 

“We will use the grant to continue our research on the molecular mechanisms of a novel, plant-derived natural product that has anti-angiogenic (blood-vessel blocking) activity and that could be a therapeutic lead for AMD,” Dr. Corson said.

Dr. Gangaraju’s grant will support research initiatives which will lead to extramural grant applications. Dr. Gangaraju and his faculty mentor Dr. March each received $7,500. Dr. Gangaraju’s funding is to support research into diabetic retinopathy research.

“Dr. March’s interest in adipose stromal cells in cardiovascular diseases complements my interest in retinal diseases,” Dr. Gangaraju said. “We have an ongoing relationship between CMMRF and ICVBM. Knights Templar Wisconsin joined this last year and started to fund research annually related to pediatric ophthalmology.”

“Our researchers continue to seek new avenues for funding in a highly competitive environment,” said Louis B. Cantor, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Glick Eye Institute. “We are confident their continued success in acquiring research funds will provide the foundation for treatments and cures for blinding eye diseases.”