UMKC Vision Research Center scientist receives Fight for Sight Award

The Vision Research Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine (VRC) has been awarded a post-doctoral award by the non-profit organization Fight for Sight for the Center’s research focusing on causes of and treatments for glaucoma.

Stephanie Burroughs, Ph.D., Research Scientist at the VRC, is conducting research focused on identifying the pathophysiological mechanism leading to glaucoma and discovering novel therapeutic approaches. Her research will be supported by this program, with Peter Koulen, Ph.D., as her mentor and supervisor.  Koulen is the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research, a Professor of Ophthalmology, and Director of Basic Research at the VRC.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of visual loss and affects more than 4 million Americans and over 60 million people worldwide. With age as a major risk factor for developing glaucoma and Baby Boomers reaching the third trimester of their life, the number of patients with this disease is bound to increase dramatically. Glaucoma has devastating effects on an individual’s quality of life and causes tremendous socio-economic costs, hence the high clinical need to develop novel treatment regimens.

According to Koulen, the overall goal of the research is to identify mechanisms of action and clinical relevance of novel drug targets and intervention therapies for degeneration of the retina and optic nerve in glaucoma.

“What we hope to do is uncover and identify therapy approaches that have the potential to be both preventative and therapeutic in nature. This will allow the VRC to complement existing treatment designs and rationales, and to develop new treatment options for this area of high clinical need,” he said.  “Determining causes and subsequent potential treatment strategies to improve health care is especially important for Kansas City and the region, as glaucoma is more common in minorities that are already affected by disparities in health care delivery.”

“The interdisciplinary structure of our Vision Research Center fosters this kind of innovative research fueling the pipeline for new therapy development in areas of great clinical need,” said Nelson R. Sabates, MD, chairman of the UMKC School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Vision Research Center. “This research project provides a great opportunity for training outstanding fellows, such as Dr. Burroughs, and generates the basis for future translational research.”

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