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Previous Award Recipients

 Award Recipients: 2017

Fellowship Project Award

Dr Jorge Andrés Orellana-Ríos
Research institution: New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA
Title: Validated autofluorescence in age-related macular degeneration
Mentor: Professor R. Theodore Smith

Dr Hernán Andrés Ríos Calixto
Research institution: Fundación Oftalmológica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia
Title: Neural networks for detection of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema
Mentor: Dr Francisco J. Rodríguez

Dr Mital Shah
Research institution: Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Title: Understanding cone degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa using in vivo high-resolution retinal imaging with adaptive optics
Mentor: Professor Susan Downes

Dr José Ronaldo Lima de Carvalho Júnior
Research institution: Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Title: Optimizing prognostication for bestrophin retinal dystrophy using multi-modal imaging
Mentor: Dr Stephen Tsang
Research Award

Dr Caspar Jonker
Research institution: Margaret M. Dyson Vision Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine, NY, USA
Title: Generation of an in vitro model of retina and choroid to study and screen drugs for blinding diseases

Dr Hetian Lei
Research institution: Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Title: PI3K and pathological retinal angiogenesisdiseases

Anouk Georges, PhD
Research institution: GIGA Institute, University Hospital of Liège, Belgium
Title: Modulating synaptogenesis in mouse iPS-derived 3D retinal cultures: A strategy to enhance neural circuit reconstruction post-transplantation

Dr Ingeborg Klaassen
Research institution: Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Title: Endothelium-specific PLVAP as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of DME

Dr Atsuhiro Kanda
Research institution: Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine, Hokkaido University, Japan
Title: Crosstalk between glycans and their binding partners in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy

Associate Professor Hidetaka Matsumoto
Research institution: Department of Ophthalmology, Gunma University School of Medicine, Japan
Title: The role of TRPV4 in photoreceptor cell death after retinal detachment

Associate Professor Steven Yeh
Research institution: Emory Eye Centre, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Title: Serological and molecular diagnosis of infectious uveitis in a viral haemorrhagic fever zone

Professor Robyn Guymer
Research institution: Centre for Eye Research Australia, Melbourne, Australia
Title: Improving visual outcomes for neovascular age-related macular degeneration using tablet-based monitoring in the home

 Award Recipients: 2016

Fellowship Project Award

Dr. Shyamanga Borooah
Research institution: University of California San Diego, USA
Title: Testing disease modifying treatments for macular degeneration

Awardee update
[At the time of writing] I am 6 weeks into my GOAP fellowship, and I have spent this time standardizing my intended assays in the murine system. I will perform a range of activities to measure disease progression using non-invasive imaging. Firstly, I am optimizing the OCT and SLO set-up for murine work. Other studies that are currently being optimized include immunostaining, Western blot, and RNA array.

"The GOAP fellowship funding provides a robust platform that opens a rare opportunity for academic ophthalmologists to learn new techniques and build academic relationships while also maintaining clinical excellence. The funding will enable me and my cohort of academic ophthalmologists to develop new investigations and therapies that will ultimately benefit patients."

Dr. Jessica Shantha
Research institution: University of California San Diego, USA
Title: Pathogenesis and treatment of Ebola-Associated Uveitis

Awardee update

I published a review on Ebola and the eye in Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, and recently published a retrospective study on ophthalmic manifestations of Ebola virus disease survivors in Liberia in Ophthalmology. In January, I presented the rationale, study design, and baseline characteristics of the EVICT (Ebola Virus Persistence in Ocular Tissues and Fluids) study at the American Uveitis Society meeting. At the 2017 ARVO meeting, I presented a poster entitled ‘Ebola Virus Persistence in Ocular Tissues and Fluids (EVICT) II Study: Cataract Surgery’. We screened over 60 patients and included 22 patients in the first phase of the EVICT study, and we will soon publish the results. We will travel back to Sierra Leone this month (July) to complete the second phase of the study.

Dr. Paul Steptoe
Research institution: Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, UK
Title: Defining post Ebola virus disease ophthalmic sequelae and opportunities for intervention

Awardee update

We recently published in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, our first research output of the year, which identified a novel retinal lesion in Ebola survivors, suggesting neurotropism. We were also able to report that the aqueous fluid from two survivors with cataracts was free of the Ebola virus, which suggests that cataract surgery is safe. To our surprise, the work received extensive international media coverage. We have follow-up data on over 50 Ebola survivors, and this is due to be submitted for publication shortly.

Research Award

Assistant Professor Eiko K. De Jong
Research institution: Radbound University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands
Title: Elucidating novel biomarkers for AMD progression

Awardee update

We are in the middle of our study ‘elucidating novel biomarkers for AMD’ using the MARS cohort. We have obtained DNA from the cohort, and this has now been genotyped. In order to perform the genome-wide association study on progression, we are exploring the best manner in which progression can be represented (either dichotomous, categorical, or continuous). We are currently determining whether the serum samples stored by the MARS study team meet the quality criteria for biomarker analysis, and fully expect our study to move ahead in the second half of 2017.

Professor Dr. Antje Grosche
Research institution: Institute of Human Genetics, Germany
Title: PDGF signaling of Müller cells and pericytes in a model of retinal neovascularization

Awardee update

My GOAP project started in January 2017. Before all contracts were fixed, we started the time-consuming crossbreeding of PDGFRαfl mice with Glast-CreERT2 mice, establishing a mouse line in which the PDGFRα can be specifically ablated in retinal Müller glia. We also performed the first immunohistological characterizations of PDGFR expression and glial responses in the retina at different time points after laser-induced CNV. As soon as my lab has been moved to the Biomedical Centre of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, we will investigate the role of PDGFRα signalling in the double transgenic mice and the CNV model.


GOAP has largely supported my career development; I was recently offered an attractive professorship at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, which I accepted.

Associate Professor Alex Hewitt
Research institution: Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Australia
Title: Optimization of CRISPR/Cas gene editing in the retina

Awardee update

We recently reported the utility of adeno-associated virus-mediated CRISPR/Cas gene editing in the retina; however, with such a viral delivery system, active endonucleases will be maintained in the retina for an extended period, making genotoxicity a significant consideration in clinical applications. To address this issue, we have rationally designed a self-destructing “kamikaze” CRISPR/Cas system that disrupts the Cas enzyme itself following expression. Our work has demonstrated that a self-destructing “kamikaze” CRISPR/Cas system could be used as a safe and robust tool for refined gene editing in the retina, without compromising on-target efficiency.

Assistant Professor Junyeop Lee
Research institution: Yeungnam University, South Korea
Title: Pericyte-associated choroidopathy as a pathogenesis of DME and AMD

Awardee update

Thanks to support from GOAP, we analyzed structural and functional changes of choroidal pericytes during development and aging. We have developed an animal model presenting pericyte-deficient choroidopathy through the regulation of PDGF signalling. Choroidal pericytes and smooth muscle cells have important roles in the regulation of choroidal blood flow and the maintenance of endothelial stability. We are waiting for the combination of genetically modified mice, and have a plan to confirm the physiological role of choroidal pericytes once these mice are available. We are also looking for molecular targets from choroidal endothelial cells for the treatment of pericyte-associated choroidopathy.

Dr. Yoko Okunuki
Research institution: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, USA
Title: Targeting miR-155 to restore microglia and rescue photoreceptor cell loss in retinal detachment


Awardee update
We have started to administer our candidate drug to a murine model of retinitis pigmentosa. The drug is based on our previous screening study using iPS cells from a human patient with retinitis pigmentosa. We have tried both systemic and topical administrations to find the best way for slowing the progression of retinal degeneration.

Assistant Professor Yoko Ozawa
Research institution: Keio University, Japan
Title: Development of a new neuroprotective approach for retinitis pigmentosa

Awardee update We have started to administer our candidate drug to a murine model of retinitis pigmentosa. The drug is based on our previous screening study using iPS cells from a human patient with retinitis pigmentosa. We have tried both systemic and topical administrations to find the best way for slowing the progression of retinal degeneration.

Professor Sobha Sivaprasad
Research institution: UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, UK
Title: Development of automated analysis of ultra-widefield fluorescein angiography images

Dr. Sofia Theodoropoulou
Research institution: Bristol Eye Hospital / Academic Unit of Ophthalmology, UK
Title: The role of an immunomodulatory cytokine and its associated pathways in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration

Awardee update
The aim of my project is to determine the potential role of IL-33 during the progression of AMD. To address this, in the last couple of months I have explored whether IL-33 ameliorates retinal degeneration in vivo in the model of wortmannin-induced retinal degeneration. The preliminary data may support a critical role of IL-33 in sustaining photoreceptor and RPE health. Furthermore, IL-33 treatment demonstrated improvement in retinal function and significantly reduced apoptosis in this ‘dry AMD’ model, which supports the therapeutic use of IL-33.

 Award Recipients: 2015

Fellowship Project Award

Dr. Abhishek Sharma
Research institution: Hospital for Sick Children, Canada
Title: Scleral transillumination compared with ultrasound biomicroscopy: An analysis of surface landmarks for safe sclerostomy in young children
Mentor: Dr Wai-Ching Lam

Dr. Tiarnan Keenan
Research institution: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA
Title: Evaluation of the growth of geographic atrophy (GA) associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)
Mentor: Dr Emily Chew

Dr. Vinícius Monteiro de Castro
Research institution: University of Michigan, Kellogg Eye Centre, USA
Title: Clinical Research Training in Diabetic Macular Edema
Mentor: Thomas W. Gardner

Dr. Xi Chen
Research institution: Duke University, USA
Title: Macular neurovascular patterning in preterm infants
Mentor: Dr Cynthia Ann Toth
Research Award

Associate Professor David Zacks
Research institution: University of Michigan, Kellogg Eye Centre, USA
Title: Autophagy and control of photoreceptor cell death in autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa

Dr. Jiong Hu
Research institution: Institute for Vascular Signalling, Centre for Molecular Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Title: Soluble epoxide hydrolase and diabetic retinopathy: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential

Dr. Li-Jia Chen
Research institution: Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Title: Evaluation of the placental growth factor gene as new susceptibility gene for diabetic macular edema

Dr. Ana Raquel Santiago
Research institution: Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Title: Managing inflammation in diabetic retinopathy by adenosine A2A receptor blockade

Dr. Kiyoshi Suzuma
Research institution: Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan
Title: Can anti-succinate and GPR91 inhibit diabetes, and hypertension–induced vascular hyper-permeability?

Professor Mara Lorenzi
Research institution: Schepens Eye Research Institute, USA
Title: Learning from patroller monocytes to protect the endothelium of retinal vessels in diabetes

 Award Recipients: 2014

Fellowship Project Award

Dr Aniruddha Agarwal
Research institution: Stanley M. Truhlsen Eye Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA
Title: Evaluation of intraocular cytokines levels in eyes with diabetic macular edema treated with anti-VEGF therapy
Mentor: Professor Quan Dong Nguyen

Dr Ajay E. Kuriyan
Research institution: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami, USA
Title: Investigating the ability of HC-HA/PTX3, the soluble, active compound of amniotic membranes, to inhibit the proliferative vitreoretinopathy, using cell culture and rabbit models
Mentor: Dr Jean Marie Parel, Dr Scheffer Tseng, and Dr Harry Flynn

Dr Kelly V. Montes-León
Research institution: Fundación Oftalmológica Nacional – Universidad del Rosario, Colombia
Title: Clinical practice in patients undergoing intravitreal antiangiogenic therapy for neovascular age related macular degeneratio
Mentor: Dr Francisco Rodríguez

Dr Jonathan Park
Research institution: University of Toronto (Toronto Western Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and Hospital for Sick Children), Canada
Title: Establish the existence of a genetic predisposition for post-operative endophthalmitis
Mentor: Dr Wai-Ching Lam

Dr Matthew Simunovic
Research institution: University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Title: Photoreceptor function following gene therapy for choroideremia
Mentor: Professor Robert MacLaren
Research Award

Associate Professor Fred K. Chen
Research institution: Lions Eye Institute, The University of Western Australia, Australia
Title: High-resolution multimodal retinal imaging for investigation of cellular mechanisms of metamorphopsia in macular disease

Dr Mahyar Etminan
Research institution: University of British Columbia, Canada

Title: The role of popular prescription drugs on the onset and progression of wet AMD

Dr Diego Ghezzi
Research institution: Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy

Title: Gene editing to treat genetic photoreceptor degeneration

Professor Dr Carel B. Hoyng
Research institution: Radbound University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands
Title: Predicting treatment response in diabetic macular edema

 Award Recipients: 2013

Fellowship Project Award

Dr Philip Alexander
Research institution: University of Southampton, UK
Title: Developing novel surgical techniques for Bruch's membrane and retinal pigment epithelium transplantation
Mentor: Professor Andrew Lotery

Dr Rocio Blanco-Garavito
Research institution: Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal de Créteil, France
Title: Predictive algorithm for visual acuity outcomes in the case of bilateral exudative AMD based on genotype, phenotype, demographics and treatment protocol
Mentor: Prof. Eric Souied

Dr Daniel Maidana
Research institution: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, USA
Title: RIP3 kinase inhibition: neuroprotection, inflammation and AMD
Mentor: Professor Demetrios Vavvas

Dr Pear Pongsachareonnont
Research institution: University of Toronto/Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Title: Neovascular Age-related macular degeneration: Intraocular and plasma inflammatory cytokines in the non-responder to ranibizumab treatment
Mentor: Dr Wai-Ching Lam
Research Award

Professor Yvan Arsenijevic
Research institution: Fondation Asile des Aveugles / University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Title: Optimisation of photoreceptor generation from embryonic stem cells for transplantation studies

Dr Ana Bastos-Carvalho
Research institution: University of Kentucky, USA
Title: Mechanisms of geographic atrophy expansion in age-related macular degeneration

Dr Anneke den Hollander
Research institution: Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands
Title: Metabolomics in AMD – Identifying metabolic pathways and biomarkers for improved prediction and prevention

Dr Xinyi Su
Research institution: Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore
Title: Development of a novel molecular fluorescent retinal imaging tool in diabetic retinopathy

Professor Nagahisa Yoshimura
Research institution: Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan
Title: Evaluation of RPE cells differentiated from iPS cells of PCV patients and AMD patients

 Award Recipients: 2012

Dr Alejandra de Alba Campomanes
Research institution: University of California, USA
Title: Postnatal serum insulin-like growth factor 1 and retinopathy of prematurity in Latin American infants

Dr Ning Cheung
Research institution: Singapore Eye Research Institute

Dr Gemmy-Cheung
Research institution: Singapore National Eye Centre
Title: A predictive algorithm for indocyanine green angiography usage to differentiate polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy from age-related macular degeneration

Dr Diego Ponzin
Research institution: Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto, Italy
Title: Age-related macular degeneration: analysis of gene expression in the human retina

Dr Frank Verbraak
Research institution: University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Title: Neurological, visual and neurocognitive performance in paediatric HIV-infected patients as compared to healthy controls
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