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CWRU medical school receives $1 million to research eye diseases

The funds come from the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation, which donated more than $10 million in research grants in 2008 and supports vision research throughout the country. Since 1997, the organization has given more than $2.7 million to CWRU.

Four Case Western Reserve University medical school faculty received grants worth more than $1 million to continue their research into diseases including macular degeneration.

The funds come from the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation, which donated more than $10 million in research grants in 2008 and supports vision research throughout the country. Since 1997, the organization has given more than $2.7 million to CWRU.

The total grant announced Monday is worth $1.04 million.

The majority of the latest funding goes to Irina A. Pikuleva, a new ophthalmology and pharmacology professor who studies cytochromes P450, a critical enzymes that helps eliminate cholesterol. She will use $650,000 from the foundation plus additional funding to determine whether there are mechanisms similar to cytochromes P450 involved in atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related macular degeneration, according to a university release. CWRU will provide some matching funds.

In addition Paul Shin-Hyun Park, an assistant professor in ophthalmology and visual sciences, will use a four-year, $200,000 grant to help study retina pigments that could have an impact on diseases including macular degeneration.

Professor Ram Nagaraj will use a $75,000 grant to continue their work researching cataracts and diabetic retinopathy, which damages the light sensors in the back of the eye.

The foundation also renewed a $115,000 unrestricted grant for Dr. Jonathan Lass, chairman of the ophthalmology and visual sciences department and director of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center Eye Institute. Lass will use the money to invest in new research programs and advance the research mission of the department.

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