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UI Researchers Receive $1.12 Million Grant to Study Glaucoma

A University of Iowa research lab has received a three-year, $1.12 million grant from the National Eye Institute for continued research in glaucoma.

Markus Kuehn, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and his colleagues were awarded the grant to investigate whether cellular stress within a certain group of eye cells leads to the increased eye-fluid pressure that is associated with glaucoma.

The project builds on earlier research done in collaboration with Val Sheffield, MD, PhD, UI professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Medical Genetics at UI Carver College of Medicine, which focused on an important eye protein called myocilin. Genetic mutations in myocilin are a major cause of glaucoma, and the UI team previously discovered that mutated myocilin causes cellular stress and cell death in eye cells known as the trabecular meshwork. Sheffield also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

In the new study, the UI team will use mouse models, cell cultures and stem cell biology to investigate how exactly this type of stress occurs. They also will study the effects of many different mutations, environmental factors, and aging.

The Kuehn lab will work in collaboration with the Sheffield lab and the lab of Budd Tucker, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at UI Carver College of Medicine.

The National Eye Institute is one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

Information gained will aid in the design of novel therapies aimed at preserving vision in patients with glaucoma.