Tag Archives: Vision Research Foundation

New Discoveries & Developments


  • In collaboration with organic chemists, we discovered a new promising approach to treat the inflammatory component of glaucoma. This could help us generate new glaucoma drugs complementary to existing therapies and protecting the vision of patients more effectively.
  • One new compound with the potential to become a novel drug for diabetic retinopathy by protecting the nerve cells in the eye.
  • A medical device for patients with diabetes that would allow the physician to assess the risk for diabetic retinopathy, and would allow the patient to continuously monitor the disease’s progress and therapy success through a simple blood test requiring only a finger prick blood sample.
  • Two new potential drugs to treat the dry form of AMD , one new potential drug to treat diabetic retinopathy caused by Type 1 diabetes and two new potential drugs to treat glaucoma are in advanced stages of development.
  • Two new drug delivery approaches for established wet AMD drugs that would eliminate the need for frequent injections in the eye.
  • A medical device for AMD patients and those with occlusion of their retinal blood vessels which could ultimately eliminate lengthy, invasive procedures.
  • A new drug delivery approach for established glaucoma drugs that would eliminate the need for daily eye drops– specifically, we are looking to turn glaucoma drugs into a slow release version administered only a few times per year.
  • A medical device that will reduce the pressure in the eye of patients for which conventional glaucoma drug treatment failed and surgery is the only option.

Vision Research Center students awarded university research grants

Gerdes_Krause_research awards_2016
Bryan Gerdes, left, and Jacob Kraus, standing, have received UMKC School of Graduate Studies Research Awards.

Two graduate students from UMKC’s Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D. program, who conduct their research at the School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center, have received UMKC School of Graduate Studies Research Awards.

Bryan Gerdes and Jacob Kraus, both working on their PhDs under the mentorship of Peter Koulen, PhD, director of basic research at the Vision Research Center, received awards for 2016-2017.

Gerdes received an award for his project on the identification of novel cellular pathways controlling oxidative stress in nerve cells. Kraus is studying the mechanisms of action of neuro-protective compounds for his PhD thesis.

The research awards are designed to elevate the visibility of research and the economic development activities taking place at the university. Recipients present their work at the annual Community of Scholars Symposium and Awards Ceremony sponsored each spring by the School of Graduate Studies.

Research and education included in design of new outpatient center

Nelson Sabates, M.D. '86, chair of ophthalmology, spoke at the University Health ribbon cutting ceremony.
Nelson Sabates, M.D. ’86, chair of ophthalmology, spoke at the University Health ribbon cutting ceremony.

A new outpatient specialty and surgery center on Hospital Hill will expand and enhance the learning experiences for UMKC School of Medicine students and residents.

Truman Medical Centers will provide the services at University Health, a 90,000-square-foot facility at 2101 Charlotte St. In addition to clinic space and operating rooms, University Health will house the Vision Research Center, the research arm of the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology, and a 50-seat theater with a 3-D projection system.

“We are excited that our students and residents will have additional opportunities to learn while participating in state-of-the-art outpatient care,” UMKC School of Medicine Dean Steven L. Kanter said. “Resources in the new building that support experiential learning include teaching lab space, an ophthalmology library, a 3-D microscope and work areas for our faculty, residents and students.”

University Health opened Oct. 28 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house. Services provided at University Health include ophthalmology, orthopaedics and sports medicine, oral and maxillofacial surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, urology, otolaryngology, pain management and outpatient surgery.

Mark Steele, M.D. '80
Mark Steele, M.D. ’80

“We’re all very excited and energized by this beautiful new building and the more customer-focused and efficient care it brings to our patients,” Mark Steele, M.D. ’80, chief medical officer and chief operating officer at Truman Medical Centers and executive medical director of University Physician Associates, said at the ceremony. “It also will serve as a model practice for our many learners.”

Nelson Sabates, M.D. ’86, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and president and CEO of Sabates Eye Centers, said University Health would elevate training as well as the level of health care in the community. “We are going to produce — we are producing — the best doctors that will serve our community for decades to come,” he said. “And that is our legacy here, at Truman Medical Center, Hospital Hill and the UMKC School of Medicine.”

Charlie Shields, president and chief executive officer of Truman Medical Centers, said University Health would provide “specialty care right where people live and work in absolutely state-of-the-art facilities.”

Shields said the University Health name was chosen to emphasize Truman Medical Centers’ status as a teaching hospital. “One of the things we are most proud of is our connection to the UMKC School of Medicine,” he said.

UMKC School of Medicine partners with Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Center for Behavioral Medicine, the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Research Medical Center, in addition to Truman Medical Centers.

New Report from Prevent Blindness America Shows Sharp Increase in Eye Disease Prevalence

The 2012 update of the “Vision Problems in the U.S.” report shows the number of those ages 40 and older with vision impairment and blindness has increased 23 percent since the year
2000. The data also includes an 89 percent spike in diabetic eye disease over the last decade. Chicago, IL (PRWEB) June 20, 2012 — More adult Americans are facing the reality of eye disease than ever before. According to the 2012 update of the “Vision Problems in the U.S.” report, a study released today by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, the number of those ages 40 and older with vision impairment and blindness has increased 23 percent since the year 2000. The study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, provides prevalence rates and estimates cases of age-related eye conditions. A full version of the study is available at preventblindness.org/visionproblems.
In addition, a preliminary update to the 2007 Prevent Blindness America “Economic Impact of Vision Problems” report shows a $1 billion increase in costs of excess medical care expenditures, informal care and health-related quality of life related to visual impairment and blindness. Further cost information is being developed and a full updated report on the economic impact of vision problems will be available at a later date. Overviews of both reports will be presented today at the Prevent Blindness America “Focus on Eye Health
Summit” in Washington, DC. The Summit will also feature a number of other key public health updates and presentations from national leaders, including reports on eye health surveillance efforts and NEI planning activities for vision research. Statistics from the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report on the four most common eye diseases highlight
alarming increases since 2000, including:

• 2,069,403 people age 50 and older have late AMD (age-related macular degeneration), a 25 percent
• 24,409,978 million people age 40 and older have cataracts, a 19 percent increase
• 2,719,379 million people age 40 and older have open-angle glaucoma, a 22 percent increase
• 7,685,237 million people ages 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy, an 89 percent increase

“It’s no surprise that the numbers of those affected by eye disease are continuing to climb, especially due to the aging Baby Boomer population,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “What is exceptionally concerning is the dramatic spike in diabetic retinopathy cases, a consequence of the diabetes epidemic that this country is experiencing with no end in sight.” Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States. Although there is no cure for diabetic eye disease, annual eye exams for diabetes patients are essential to help slow the progression of the disease.
All data from the Vision Problems in the U.S. report can now be obtained through a new searchable database housed on the Prevent Blindness America website at preventblindness.org/visionproblems. This unique tool enables users to research a wide range of information including eye disease and condition numbers broken down by state, age, sex, and race, and provides comparisons across disease conditions. Added Parry, “It is our hope that this new data will provide those in the health community, the public and our
nation’s leaders with the vital information they need to address these troubling numbers through programs, research and funding.” For more information about the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report, the Prevent Blindness America “Focus on Eye Health: A National Summit,” diabetes and other eye diseases, please visit preventblindness.org or call (800) 331-2020. For media: Downloadable graphs and other resources can be found under the News & Resources tab at preventblindness.org/visionproblems

About Prevent Blindness America

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety
organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision
care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and
professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service
programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public.
Together with a network of affiliates and regional offices, Prevent Blindness America is committed to
eliminating preventable blindness in America. For more information, or to make a contribution to the sightsaving
fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.

Vision Research Center is a vital, unknown asset for Kansas City

Premium content from Kansas City Business Journal by Michael Braude, Contributing Writer
Date: Friday, June 29, 2012, 5:00am CDT
Don Alexander is one of the leaders in our business community whom I most respect. The Dutch-born banker-turned-entrepreneur has been a huge success in everything he has touched.
Just as in commerce, when he embraces a cause in the world of philanthropy, I certainly take notice. After Marshall Dean III introduced me to Vision Research Center of Kansas City, where he is a foundation director, I learned that Don Alexander also was an enthusiastic director and supporter.

I called Don for his take on the Vision Research Center and he told me: “The reason I got involved was because the quality of life just disappears when you can’t see well or see at all. I had to contribute to stopping eye disease. The center’s combination of practicing ophthalmologists and great researchers provides a powerful combination for attacking eye disease.”

A lengthy visit to the Vision Research Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2300 Holmes Road, convinced me how right Don is. I spent several hours with the center’s amazingly capable advancement director, Bridgette O’Connor, and Dr. Peter Koulen, the center’s director of basic research.

Kansas City is incredibly fortunate to have a research scientist like Koulen in our town. He was trained at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany and at the Yale University School of Medicine. He came here from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center, where he served as director of its eye research institute. I came away from my time with him realizing that he is a leader in the quest to discover better treatments for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. He also is extremely articulate and very personable.

The mission of VRC began in 2007. It is to develop prevention strategies and cures for the three debilitating eye diseases that Koulen focuses on. It is the research program of the Department of Ophthalmology at the UMKC School of Medicine, and it has been endorsed by the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Inc. During my visit, I quickly understood what Don Alexander had told me. Typically, it takes a long time for researchers’ discoveries to reach a patient’s bedside. The process is greatly expedited at VRC because of the close proximity of research scientists, clinicians and practicing ophthalmologists. This institution is an incredible and, unfortunately, relatively unknown Kansas City asset. It is likely that major breakthroughs in conquering the three age-related debilitative eye diseases will occur right here in our town.

The Vision Research Center deserves the financial and manpower support of our business community. What could be more important than the development of preventive methods and new treatments to save vision? Don Alexander is right on.