Boston (January 22, 2014) - The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology has been granted a $30,000 Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship for Christina Marsica Grassi.
This grant will enable Ms. Grassi to take year-long sabbatical from medical school to pursue a research project within the Massachusetts Eye and Ear and HMS Department of Ophthalmology. Ms. Grassi will work with Dr. James Chodosh in the Howe Laboratory's Viral Pathogenesis Unit at Mass. Eye and Ear.
"The goal of Ms. Grassi's project is to elucidate the mechanisms that trigger the development of sterile vitritis in patients who have received an artificial Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro) implant. These studies also may enrich our understanding of immune responses to other indwelling prosthetic devices," said Joan W. Miller, M.D., F.A.R.V.O., Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital and Chair of the HMS Department of Ophthalmology.
For patients who have failed corneal allograft surgery or are poor candidates for corneal transplantation, the damaged cornea can be replaced with a keratoprosthesis, or an artificial cornea, but post-operative inflammation remains a problem for many patients. A poorly characterized, idiopathic inflammation of the vitreous humor, called sterile vitritis, is one manifestation of inflammation after KPro implantation, Dr. Miller explained. The RPB Fellowship Grant will enable Ms. Grassi to conduct research that may lead to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that control this process and, ultimately, help refine the technology and improve outcomes for patients with this condition.
About Mass. Eye and Ear
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. After uniting with Schepens Eye Research Institute in 2011, Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston became the world's largest vision and hearing research center, offering hope and healing to patients everywhere through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals Survey" has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology as among the top hospitals in the nation. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.
RPB is the world's leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding eye diseases. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to http://www.