WALTHAM, MA --Brandeis University selected Jay and Maureen Neitz, the husband-and-wife team whose pioneering research may lead to the use of gene therapy to treat vision disorders, as the inaugural recipients of the Jay Pepose '75 Award in Vision Sciences.
The award is funded by a $1 million endowment established this year through a gift from Brandeis graduates Jay Pepose '75 and Susan K. Feigenbaum '74, his wife. The endowment primarily supports graduate research fellowships in vision science.
The Neitzes, both of whom are faculty members in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington in Seattle, will visit Brandeis to receive the Pepose Award. They will each deliver a public lecture in Gerstenzang 121: Jay will discuss "Gene Therapy for Red-Green Color Blindness in Adult Primates" at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, and Maureen will talk about "Retinal Activity Patterns and the Cause and Prevention of Nearsightedness" at noon on Feb. 9.
Pepose is a professor of clinical ophthalmology at Washington University and the owner and medical director of the Pepose Vision Institute in St. Louis. During his time as an undergraduate, Pepose worked closely with John Lisman, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience and Professor of Biology at Brandeis. He was part of the inaugural class of Fellows inducted into the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in 2009.
"We look forward to the Neitzes' visit to campus to discuss their groundbreaking research," said Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, PhD '72. "We thank Jay and Susan, whose gift to establish the Pepose Award in Vision Sciences has made it possible for Brandeis faculty and students to learn more about the Neitzes' work."
In a recent issue of the journal Nature, the Neitzes and their colleagues detailed a study in which they used gene therapy to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness. The research offers hope for the use of gene therapy to treat adult vision disorders involving cone cells - the most important cells for vision in humans.
"The Neitzes' recent paper in Nature will revolutionize the way we understand color perception," Pepose said. "I am delighted that Brandeis has chosen such outstanding contributors to vision research for this award."
About the Sciences at Brandeis
Brandeis is committed to the proposition that basic scientific research is the engine of innovation in human health and well-being. Among many breakthroughs, Brandeis scientists have developed food products that lower blood cholesterol and DNA tests that detect cancer and other diseases. The Brandeis faculty includes five HHMI investigators or professors, and numerous members of the National Academy of Sciences. The new Carl J. Shapiro Science Center will ensure that Brandeis will compete and succeed at the highest levels of science research well into the 21st century.
About Brandeis University
Characterized by academic excellence since its founding in 1948, Brandeis is one of the country's youngest private research universities and the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the nation. Named for late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Brandeis combines the faculty and resources of a world-class research institution with the intimacy and personal attention of a small liberal arts college.