ARVO Foundation Research Catalyst Awards

For investigators starting their careers or returning to the workforce after an extended leave

ARVO Foundation Research Catalyst Awards


The ARVO Foundation Research Catalyst Awards are intended for investigators beginning their careers or returning to the workforce after an extended leave. Two awards are presented annually to support an initial research project for an investigator within and outside the United States with a superb research idea.

Awardees will receive a $30,000 honorarium, an inscribed award and invitations to several special events at the ARVO Annual Meeting.

Applications open Aug. 1  Oct. 1

Learn more about the eligibility requirements

2024 recipients

Research Catalyst Award recipient  - Alyssa LieAlyssa L. Lie, PhD, BOptom
University of Auckland
New Zealand

Alyssa L. Lie is a therapeutically endorsed academic optometrist. Graduating with honors from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, she returned to pursue a PhD following two years in community practice, including a one-month scholarship program at State University of New York College of Optometry. Currently, Alyssa holds joint appointments at the University of Auckland as a lecturer in the School of Optometry and Vision Science and as a research fellow in the Department of Physiology. She also continues clinical practice in a private ophthalmology clinic specializing in glaucoma. Her primary research interest is age-related eye disease, such as presbyopia and cataract, since obtaining her PhD in this field. Her ongoing research includes utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to identify biomarkers that may inform potential preventative and therapeutic strategies for age-related eye disease.


Research Catalyst Award recipient - Tarsis Gesteira FerreiraTarsis Gesteira Ferreira, MSc, PhD
University of Houston
United States

Tarsis Gesteira Ferreira's research is primarily focused on characterizing the structure and function of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans, and their biosynthetic enzymes. Ferreira's broad background enables him to take a multidisciplinary approach to studying the role of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycan in development/disease, which includes using computational modeling, molecular docking, molecular dynamics, diverse biochemistry techniques, molecular biology, cell culture, genetically modified mice, and animal models of ocular pathologies. Seven years ago, he co-founded the pharmaceutical start-up Optimvia LLC, a company specialized in enzyme design with a primary focus on improving the yield of heparin/heparan sulfate biosynthetic enzymes for in vitro synthesis of heparin. After the successful partnership of Optimvia LLC with Gingko Bioworks Ferreira decided to return to academia. This transition marked a new chapter in his journey, intertwining his passion for the eye with his expertise in protein engineering and drug design. Currently, Ferreira is dedicated to designing next-generation treatments for ocular diseases, leveraging a rich blend of industry experience and academic knowledge. His journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and illustrates how unconventional paths can lead to success in science and medicine.