UMKC Vision Research Center awarded National Eye Institute grant

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.

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, will lead the project.

“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,” 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.”

The VRC develops 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

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