INDIANAPOLIS — Vision research at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute will receive a double boost when husband-and-wife research scientists from the University of Florida join the Department of Ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine this year.
Michael Boulton, Ph.D., will be the first director of basic science research and hold the Merrill Grayson Senior Chair in Ophthalmology; his wife and fellow researcher, Maria Grant, M.D., will be the first to hold the new Marilyn K. Glick Senior Chair. They will join the department at the beginning of the new academic year on July 1.
Dr. Boulton is currently director of research and professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Florida. His research has focused on age-related changes in the retina and retinal neovascularization.
Dr. Grant is currently director of translational research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida and holds professorships in several departments there, including ophthalmology; physiology and functional genomics; medicine; and psychiatry. Her research focuses on understanding and repairing the damage to blood vessels in the eye as a result of diabetes, a major cause of blindness and vision loss.
“We are thrilled to welcome Drs. Boulton and Grant to the Glick Eye Institute,” said Louis B. Cantor, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. “They are widely known and respected for their research, and we are pleased Dr. Boulton will shepherd our growing basic science program.”
Keith L. March, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine and the Vascular and Cardiac Center for Adult Stem Cell Therapy at IU, said he welcomes both researchers to the university community.
“Dr. Boulton will become an important member of the team of scientists in the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine, initiating new collaborations to focus on the key roles played by blood vessels in eye health and disease,” Dr. March said. “Dr. Grant will join the investigators of the Vascular and Cardiac Center for Adult Stem Cell Therapy, a Signature Center of IUPUI, to accelerate interdisciplinary collaborations relating to her work involving adult stem cells in treatment of eye diseases.”
Dr. Boulton said several factors contributed to his decision to move to the IU School of Medicine.
“I believe the environment at Indiana University is very supportive of cutting-edge cell and molecular research, and the top administrators recognize the importance of building a strong vision science research and education program,” Dr. Boulton said. “The newly built Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute offers amazing potential, and I am looking forward to working with Dr. Grant and existing faculty to make this one of the top 10 vision research and training institutes in the U.S.”
Dr. Boulton’s research has focused on the pathobiology of the retinal pigment epithelium and mechanisms of retinal neovascularization and has resulted in more than 200 publications. He earned his Ph.D. in vision sciences at the University of Westminster and Institute of Ophthalmology, London. He was appointed a Fight for Sight Fellow before taking a faculty position at the University of Manchester. Dr. Boulton then chaired the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University, later making a trans-Atlantic move to become director of the AMD Center at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He most recently was professor of anatomy and cell biology at University of Florida, Gainesville.
He holds grants from the National Institutes of Health for his research into age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
He will have secondary appointments as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of optometry and vision science. He will also receive an appointment to the graduate school faculty.
Dr. Grant received her undergraduate education at the University of Florida, where she graduated with highest honors in chemistry. She completed medical school, internal medicine residency and an endocrinology fellowship at the University of Florida, followed by a research fellowship in ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute before joining the faculty at the University of Florida in the Department of Internal Medicine. She served as division chief of endocrinology and metabolism for seven years until she joined the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics as professor. She also holds joint appointments in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, Ophthalmology and Psychiatry.
Dr. Grant’s research is supported by the National Eye Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and Florida Department of Health James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program. The Grant lab studies mechanisms that control circadian regulation of bone marrow cell release in health and in chronic conditions such as diabetes. The goal of the lab is developing novel strategies to optimize dysfunctional diabetic progenitors prior to their use in cell-based therapies to treat vascular complications.
“I am looking forward to working with the faculty and administration at the Glick Eye Institute to build a strong basic science program that will advance not only basic research, but also translational studies that will move cell therapy forward for vision-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Dr. Grant said.
She will have secondary appointments as a professor of cellular and integrative physiology and optometry and vision science. She also will receive an appointment to the graduate school faculty.
“We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Drs. Boulton and Grant and welcome the opportunities for research collaboration with these two outstanding researchers,” said Rajashekhar Gangaraju, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine. Dr. Gangaraju’s research is concentrated on diabetic eye disease, a leading cause of blindness and vision loss.
“Their expertise will help transform ongoing ophthalmological research in our department and move us closer to finding treatments and cures for vision-related diseases,” Dr. Gangaraju said.
Eugene and Marilyn Glick provided an initial $10 million as an endowed fund to support innovative vision research, along with $20 million toward construction of the Glick Eye Institute. As a provision under the research endowment, the Marilyn K. Glick Senior Chair in Ophthalmology was created to honor Mrs. Glick’s extraordinary foresight and vision in creating the eye institute.
The Glick Eye Institute operates four clinics: Downtown at 1160 W. Michigan St. on the IU School of Medicine campus; on Indianapolis’ north side at 200 W. 103rd St., Suite 2200 in the Spring Mill Medical Building; in the Witham Health Services’ North Pavilion, 2705 N. Lebanon St., Suite 230, in Lebanon; and at1001 Hadley Road, Suite 103 in Mooresville. Faculty physicians also staff the pediatric and adult strabismus clinic at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and see patients at Wishard Health Services and Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both in Indianapolis.