The vision research program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Dean McGee Eye Institute recently received a five-year, $2.9 million grant renewal from the National Eye Institute. Called a P30 Vision Core grant, it supports the work of researchers in 21 laboratories with advanced equipment, sophisticated software, and other innovations to drive research that ultimately will improve the quality of life for patients seeking care for their vision.
Vision research is among the most highly funded areas of investigation at the OU Health Sciences Center. The current grant was originally awarded in 2011 and included several “cores” of specialized equipment available to vision researchers across the campus and at the neighboring Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). The grant renewal expands those cores, giving researchers additional tools to more quickly translate their findings into treatments.
“The amount of this grant renewal is based on the fact that most of our individual researchers hold R01 grants from the National Eye Institute, which is considered the gold standard in vision research funding,” said Michelle Callegan, PhD, Director of Vision Research at Dean McGee Eye Institute and Professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Microbiology and Immunology in the OU College of Medicine. “Because our vision researchers have been so successful in attracting federal grant funding, we were able to renew this P30 grant, which not only advances their efforts, but helps us to recruit new vision researchers and trainees interested in vision science.”
The grant will also fund the creation of a new core in Ocular Immunobiology, providing researchers advanced methods of analyzing the immunological underpinnings of eye disease. “There is an immune-related slant to every model of eye disease,” Callegan said, “so the development of this core is really important to us.” The Ocular Immunobiology Core will be led by Darren Lee, PhD, whose own research focuses on autoimmune uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that is the third-leading cause of blindness in the United States.
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