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Springboard Award for Excellence and Creativity in Scientific Research on Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The NLM Family Foundation is pleased to join with lead funder, the H. Eric Cushing Foundation, and the C.J.L. Charitable Foundation to support the first Springboard Award for Excellence and Creativity in Scientific Research on age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration is an inflammatory disease of the retina that causes damage to light-sensing cells in the central region of the retina called the macula, resulting in vision loss. There are two forms of disease: the neovascular (“wet”) form where there are abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage causing tissue damage and the atrophic (“dry”) form where there is breakdown of light-sensitive cells with degeneration of the supporting tissue beneath the retina. A quarter of individuals over the age of 60 suffer from age-related macular degeneration, yet there are no treatments to stop its progression or restore vision for those with advanced disease.

In this project, Dr. Hafler aims to provide a detailed understanding of age-related macular degeneration disease progression that will lay the basis for discovery of new treatments to restore vision and prevent its loss. The investigator will use a novel approach that combines advanced genetic methodologies with new computational tools to create a “roadmap” or atlas of the cells and factors that drive disease within the retina. Once completed, Dr. Hafler will use this atlas, the first of its kind in the field, to identify novel therapeutic targets for drug discovery. Dr. Hafler anticipates that this work will lead to the development of the first effective therapeutic approaches targeting inflammation and stimulating neuron regeneration, thereby transforming the treatment and care of patients with age-related macular degeneration, and vastly improving their quality of life.