East Flatbush

SUNY Downstate receives $1 million grant for eyesight restoration research

November 27, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The State University of New York’s Empire Innovation Program has awarded SUNY Downstate Medical Center a $1 million grant to recruit and retain faculty researchers in support of the Department of Ophthalmology’s research on restoring eyesight and preventing vision impairment.

SUNY Downstate will match an additional $1 million to the project, which is a key part of the campus’ ongoing efforts to create a world-class vision center in Brooklyn.

The SUNY Empire Innovation Program is a state-funded effort dedicated to recruiting and retaining world-class faculty throughout the State University system.  

Douglas R. Lazzaro, MD, professor, and Richard C. Troutman, MD, distinguished chair of ophthalmology and ophthalmic microsurgery, said, “The award will allow the ophthalmology team to recruit or retain two faculty members and perform translational research with an emphasis on tissue repair and rescue, including stem cell research in the cornea, trabecular meshwork and retina.”

Translational research seeks to transform advances in basic science into practical techniques that improve health.

Dr. Lazzaro explained, “The research mission of the Department of Ophthalmology is to develop a vibrant and productive research center grounded in solid basic science of ocular disease, with strong translational efforts for disease prevention and sight restoration.”

William J. Brunken, PhD, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Ophthalmology, added, “The hallmark of our center will be to integrate basic, clinical and translational research into a single enterprise that can quickly turn cutting edge research into novel therapeutic advances.”

In addition to developing a core group of researchers on the Downstate campus, Drs. Lazzaro and Brunken have been leaders in creating the SUNY Eye Institute, a consortium of vision researchers from across the SUNY system. The SUNY Eye Institute is part of SUNY REACH (Research Excellence in Academic Health), a collaboration of the SUNY academic health centers and the SUNY College of Optometry that leverages research to advance health care.
The Downstate ophthalmology team and colleagues in the SUNY Eye Institute are committed to developing novel approaches to treating vision loss by combining stem cell engineering with the development of tissue-specific niches.

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