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Glaucoma Research Foundation Launches Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration

Groundbreaking Collaborative Research Program Will Explore Common Characteristics of Glaucoma, Alzheimer's

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, has launched the fourth phase of its flagship collaborative research program, Catalyst for a Cure.

The Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration will investigate the common characteristics of diseases that occur when key cells in the central nervous system — eye, brain, spinal cord — deteriorate and die, causing a loss of function. Neurodegenerative conditions include glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Neurodegeneration Initiative was launched through a transformative $2.4 million gift to GRF from the Melza M. and Frank Theodore Barr Foundation. Philanthropist and former GRF board member Frank Theodore (Ted) Barr and his wife Melza have supported GRF for 40 years.

"We had been thinking about the challenge of neurodegeneration ever since the first Catalyst for a Cure initiative identified it as a factor in glaucoma, in 2006," says Mr. Barr. "We thought it was time to understand neurodegeneration in a fundamental way and develop solutions based on that knowledge."  

The Barrs' gift will enable four talented investigators with diverse areas of expertise to collaborate for an initial period of three years. Consortium members are:

Sandro Da Mesquita, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Meningeal Lymphatics and Neurological Disorders Lab, Mayo Clinic

Milica Margeta, MD, PhD
Physician and Surgeon, Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

Karthik Shekhar
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Faculty Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Member, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California Berkeley

Humsa Venkatesh
Assistant Professor, Program in Neuroscience
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

With the Neurodegeneration Initiative under way, GRF is now funding two simultaneous Catalyst for a Cure consortia that could change the lives of people with glaucoma. Ongoing since 2019, the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative has made enormous strides that could soon result in the ability to protect, preserve, and even regenerate retinal ganglion cells — optic nerve components that degenerate and die with glaucoma, causing blindness.

About Glaucoma Research Foundation

Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma. To learn more, visit glaucoma.org/about-us/

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SOURCE Glaucoma Research Foundation