UMKC Vision Research Center awarded National Eye Institute grant

Sep 12, 2012 #114
Contact: John Martellaro

Grant will support development of drug therapies to treat, prevent chronic eye disease

Researchers at the UMKC School of Medicine Vision Research Center have received a $1.125 million grant from the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health to support the development of new drug therapies for protecting the retina and optic nerve in chronic degenerative eye disease. The research will be led by Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Professor and Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research at the School of Medicine and Director of Basic Research at the Vision Research Center.

“Degeneration or damage of the retina and the optic nerve — the nerve that connects the eye to the brain and makes vision possible — is a leading cause of loss of quality of life and productivity in the United States and worldwide,” Dr. Koulen said. “The therapy approach we’re developing focuses on much-needed protection of nerve cells in the eye. The goal is to develop drug therapies that will be both preventative and therapeutic and complement existing treatment designs and rationales.”

About the Vision Research Center

Founded and led by Nelson R. Sabates, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the UMKC School of Medicine, the mission of the Vision Research Center is to develop prevention strategies and cures for debilitating diseases. With its interdisciplinary structure, the VRC represents the type of collaboration needed to develop prevention strategies and cutting-edge treatments for some of the most pressing eye diseases in order to make a difference in the lives of millions of people worldwide. The center’s nationally-recognized excellence in research, patient care, and medical education contribute to Kansas City’s strengths in the life sciences. For more information, visit

About the UMKC School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine was founded in 1971 as an innovative combined degree program. From its baccalaureate/MD curriculum to a docent system that emphasizes small group learning, the school has remained a trendsetter in medical education and research. For more information about the UMKC School of Medicine, visit You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.


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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


The research reported in this news release was supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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