Grant supports use of adaptive optics to study eye disease

The Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI) has received a $250,000, four-year career development grant from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) to support research of diseases that impact the retina and the optic nerve.

Alfredo Dubra, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology and biophysics and primary investigator of the grant, will use adaptive optics to take high-resolution images that allow visualization of individual cells in living eyes. Analysis of those images will provide insight into diseases that impact the eye, including glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

Ophthalmic adaptive optics has the potential to simultaneously increase understanding of eye disease, accelerate the development of new therapies, and improve ability to diagnose early stages of eye disease, all of which would help to reduce irreversible partial or total vision loss that results from conditions that affect the retina, says Dubra.

The Medical College of Wisconsin currently has two advanced ophthalmic adaptive optics systems developed in-house, and has renovated a larger research facility that will house an additional three systems. The RPB award will support the creation of a team of optics, computer, and software engineers, who will use these new instruments to make this technology more applicable in the clinic. They will also create new ways to see the early changes that occur in the diseased retina.

The RPB Career Development Award Fund was established in 1990 to attract young physicians and basic scientists to eye research. RPB has provided more than $4 million in research funding to the Medical College.

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