ARVO Announces Recipients of Genentech AMD Research Fellowships
Awardees advance future AMD research and treatments
Rockville, Md. – The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) today announced the recipients of the 2019 Genentech Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Research Fellowships. The two winners will each receive $40,000 to support a research project focused on an aspect of AMD. The 2019 winners are Kevin Schneider, PhD, Fellow at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute (Basic) and Rosario Ferdnandez-Godino, PhD, investigator at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (Translational).
“With the aging of the population, the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration continues to rise, increasing the importance of better understanding the underlying causes of this condition and developing impactful new therapies,” said ARVO Foundation Board of Governors Chair Paul Sternberg, Jr., MD, FARVO. “We are proud to partner with Genentech each year to advance the treatment and care of AMD worldwide through the AMD research fellowships. We congratulate this year’s winners on their tremendous accomplishments in researching AMD.”
AMD is a disease of the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina. According to the National Eye Institute and the Center for Disease Control, AMD affects over 2 million people in the U.S. and is the third-leading cause of visual impairment, blinding 8.7% of those afflicted. While treatments have been developed to slow the disease, no advancements have been made that stop AMD or reverse its effects.
"This prestigious grant will greatly further my research and provide the opportunity for several impactful publications,” said Kevin Schneider, PhD. “It will allow me to gain recognition in the field of mitochondria, microRNA and AMD, and tremendously accelerate my career. I look forward to continuing my work studying AMD, and the experience provided through this grant will expand my knowledge and techniques in this exciting area of research."
The Genentech AMD Research Fellowships are presented to researchers under 45 years old who have earned their degrees within 10 years of the application deadline. There are no geographical restrictions to the award, offering early-career scientists from around the globe the opportunity to fund their research.
Dr. Fernandez-Godino says, "This fund will help my research program to move forward. Specifically, I will perform some pilot experiments which results will be used as preliminary data to apply for NIH funding. This award will also promote my professional development by supporting my career as an independent investigator."
Applications for the 2020 Genentech AMD Research Fellowships open on July 1, 2019 and close on Sept. 1, 2019.
Kevin Schneider, PhD
Dr. Schneider’s research interests involve molecular pathways, and how changes in signaling pathways can drive biological changes. During graduate school at the University of California Irvine, Schneider studied the transcription factor Nrf2. He identified that Nrf2 deficient mice were protected against obesity, and that this protection came from an upregulation of metabolic genes within adipose tissue. In his postdoctoral training, working with Dr. Cristina Kenney at UCI, he has expanded upon his interest in molecular pathways, mitochondria, and aging. His current postdoctoral project involves studying the role of mitochondria in the development and progression of AM, and specifically, is focused on how mitochondria are able to alter nuclear gene expression and contribute to development and progression of AMD through regulation of microRNA.
For the past seven years, Dr. Fernandez-Godino has studied retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) function and pathology in order to understand the primary mechanisms that trigger basal deposit formation in macular degenerations. Using cell biology and genetic engineering tools, he developed cell-based models that recapitulate the RPE and Bruch's membrane pathology at early stages of AMD, including the formation of basal deposits and increased complement activation. His preliminary results show that the activation of the complement system seems to occur via tick-over, which makes this pathway a potential candidate to develop drugs for early AMD.
For more information about the Genentech AMD Research Fellowships, visit ARVO’s website.
ARVO: The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at ARVO.org
ARVO Foundation: Established in 2001, the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research raises funds through partnerships, grants and sponsorships to support ARVO’s world-class education and career development resources for eye and vision researchers of all stages of career and education. Learn more at ARVOFoundation.org