Research to Prevent Blindness, a New York-based foundation, has announced that University of Utah researcher Wolfgang Baehr, Ph.D., will receive the Nelson Trust Award for Retinitis Pigmentosa—and an accompanying $100,000 to pursue new scientific leads to understand contributors to blindness.
The award, established in 2014, is designed to stimulate, strengthen and accelerate research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina's ability to respond to light. The inherited disease causes a slow loss of vision that eventually results in blindness.
"This award will allow one of the top researchers in the country to continue investigating the understanding of retinal diseases that lead to blindness," said Randall J. Olson, M.D., CEO of the University of Utah's John A. Moran Eye Center. "Dr.Baehr's work has already had far-reaching impacts for bettering the visual health of people around the world and this generous grant from Research to Prevent Blindness will allow him to continue uncovering important discoveries," said Olson.
Baehr joined the Moran Eye Center in 1995 as a Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Center. Baehr's work has impacted the understanding of phototransduction and remained a cornerstone of photoreceptor biochemistry. He pioneered the application of molecular biology to phototransduction research by employing newly discovered technologies to sequence cDNAs encoding the proteins. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of the basic biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics of photoreceptors, as well as the molecular and genetic mechanisms of retina diseases. Since 1968, Baehr has published more than 170 manuscripts, book chapters, reviews and editorials.
He is only one of five scientists in 2014 to receive the Nelson Trust Award for Retinitis Pigmentosa from Research to Prevent Blindness, an organization considered to be 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 for research into the causes, treatment and prevention of all blinding eye diseases.
For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, visit http://www.rpbusa.org.
A video outlining Baehr's work is available on University of Utah Health Care's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5tWH_SvWJk&list=UU_ZACSiA0Pm6tcYIrw86akA
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