Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Characterization of infrared neural stimulation in the retina
2012 Seed Grant
Agnella Matic, Ph.D.
Department of Otolaryngology
Northwestern University

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment in Americans over the age of 60.  Every year, 700,000 new cases of AMD are diagnosed and 10% of those patients will become legally blind.  Unfortunately, there are no cures for AMD and, at best, current treatments only slow the disease progression.  Retinitis pigmentosa is a vision-loss disorder estimated to affect 100,000 individuals in the US, for whom there is no effective treatment at this time.  The overall economic impact of these visual impairments is significant. Visual prostheses aim to restore sight to individuals who have severe visual impairments as a result of AMD and RP. However, at best, the patients using visual prostheses can only distinguish large objects with high contrast (i.e. a dark-colored door in a white room).  The limitations of the prostheses are possibly due to the lack of precision in the electrical stimulation of the nerves in the eye.  We can achieve much more specific stimulation of nerves using lasers.  Dr. Matic will use her 2012 Seed Grant to use lasers to stimulate nerves in the eye as an alternative technology for visual prostheses.  The ultimate goal of this project is to build a laser-based prosthesis for the eye that affords the patient a significant increase in their quality of life.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The role of microglial lysosomes in selective neuronal vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the nervous system constructs internal models of the external world
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the orchestra of movement—functional role of striatal astrocytes in health and disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…