Awards from the BrightFocus Foundation are fueling vision research by UCSF glaucoma specialist Yvonne Ou, MD, and geneticist Douglas Gould, PhD. Competing with vision scientists from across the nation, the two won two-year, $150,000 awards to advance their sight-saving work.
Dr. Ou explores the steps between optic nerve cell injury, loss of nerve cell connections, and cell death in glaucoma. Her deepening understanding of this destructive process could ultimately lead to innovative interventions that prevent irreversible retinal cell death and sight loss.
How Genetic Defects Lead to Blindness
Dr. Gould’s laboratory team studies genes involved in normal eye development in order to understand how defects lead to blindness and how interventions might prevent vision loss. People with small developmental defects in the front of the eye are at very high risk of going blind as children or young adults.
The BrightFocus grant allows the Gould team to delve into two aspects of ocular development. First they are working to identify signals sent from the lens to the surrounding tissues that instruct them on how to develop into functional structures of the front of the eye. Second, they will examine how the receiver cells (neural crest cells) integrate these molecular messages and how they behave when the messages are not delivered properly.