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Prof. Edward Chaum Awarded $999,488 Grant for Ocular Trauma Research

Edward Chaum, MD, PhD
Edward Chaum, MD, PhD

Significant eye injuries are common in the military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Edward Chaum, MD, PhD, Plough Professor of Retinal Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant totaling $999,488 from the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity to study the effects of ocular trauma.

The award will be used to support a project titled, “Nutlin Analogues for the Prevention and Treatment of Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy in Ocular Trauma,” and will be distributed over three years.

This grant will explore the use of a new class of drugs for the treatment of ocular injuries, in particular those that prevent the scarring caused by traumatic injury, which often leads to blindness. The candidate drug molecules being tested are variants of a known drug currently in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

In partnership with Focal Point Pharmaceuticals, a Memphis startup company, the goal of Dr. Chaum and his research team is to prove the effectiveness of these drugs in ocular trauma and other eye diseases, and to develop them commercially for military and civilian clinical use.

“I have had the privilege of working in partnership with the Department of Defense and the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland, for the past ten years to translate engineering concepts into novel medical devices and research programs to benefit our veterans,” said Dr. Chaum. “This exciting project, in partnership with the DOD, is anticipated to lead to the development of a new class of drugs to treat traumatic eye injuries in military and civilian medicine, and improve the ability of retina surgeons like myself to prevent blindness in the most difficult cases we face.”

The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, the contracting element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, provides support to the Command headquarters and affiliated organizations. For more information, please visit https://www.usamraa.army.mil/index.cfm.