Professor Eldon E. Geisert of UTHSC Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Study Genetics, Risk of Glaucoma
Memphis, Tenn. (April 25, 2013) – How do genetic differences affect the risk of developing glaucoma? A leading cause of blindness, with no symptoms or pain
to act as a warning, glaucoma is a complex disease with many risk factors, including ethnicity, elevated pressure in the eye, and age. These risk factors
are ultimately due to differences in the human genome. Working with research groups from Harvard and Duke, Eldon E. Geisert, PhD, is defining genetic
networks associated with the risk of developing glaucoma. Identifying the genetic differences that lead to glaucoma is the central research goal being
addressed by a new $1.5 million grant awarded to Dr. Geisert from the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
A professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology, and Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Dr. Geisert
will use the grant to continue his study of genetics and retinal injury over the next four years. Ultimately, this glaucoma research will aid in
identifying the molecular cascades associated with the development of this blinding disease and may lead to future treatments.
“Understanding the genetic causes of glaucoma will aid in early detection of individuals at risk for developing the disease, and it may lead to more
effective treatments for this blinding disease,” Dr. Geisert said.
At this time there is no cure for the disease and everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma. Older people have a higher risk for developing the disease
but approximately one out of every 10,000 babies born in the United States is born with glaucoma. Young adults can also develop glaucoma and young
African-Americans are particularly susceptible to it. Estimates note more than 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of them know they have it.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. NEI research leads to
sight-saving treatments, reduces visual impairment and blindness, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. NEI-supported research has
advanced our knowledge of how the visual system functions in health and disease. NEI is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
the nation’s medical research agency, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH
is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments,
and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
[Research supported by the NEI of the NIH under award number R01EY017841. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily
represent the official views of NIH.]
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the
benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing
an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training
opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences,
Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or allied health students — in addition to medical
residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science
Center has educated and trained more than 56,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more
information, visit www.uthsc.edu.