Eversight Connecticut Vision Fall 2016 | Page 5

Partners in vision Harvard researcher looks for new treatments with help from Eversight grant Every advancement in eye care begins with research. That is why Eversight invests in the exploration and development of new treatments and cures by funding promising research initiatives. In June, Eversight awarded Ula V. Jurkunas, M.D., and Shivakumar Vasanth, Ph.D., an Eye And Vision Research Grant to fund their study examining the role of aberrant DNA damage response in Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy and its effect on the trinucleotide repeat expansion in the TCF4 gene. Cady and Eversight Director of Research Programs Gregory Grossman visited the two Harvard researchers to present a grant certificate and had the opportunity to see Dr. Jurkunas’ work up close. “Some travel across the U.S. just to ask about the latest research. And sometimes you can actually say, ‘Yesterday in the lab, we found this new bit of data.’” Dr. Jurkunas is co-director of Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology and a specialist in corneal and refractive surgery at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Dr. Vasanth is a Research Associate in the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “Funding research like Dr. Jurkunas is such an important part of our mission,” said Eversight Connecticut Executive Director Ryan Cady. “We want to do more than restore sight through corneal transplantation, we want to prevent blindness from ever happening and investing in research is the best way to achieve that.” The Eversight Eye and Vision Grant Program partners with the world’s leading institutions to stimulate new and pioneering discoveries to cure blindness, investing more than $3 million since 1980. Eversight also provides nearly 3,000 donor eye tissues to researchers, helping to accelerate their investigations. “These individuals hold the key to the future of sight restoration,” says Cady. “It is important that we recognize their impact and continue to support their critical work.” Dr. Jurkunas has an extensive background treating patients with Fuchs’ dystrophy and seeking cures for corneal disorders with stem cell therapies. “I have so many patients who have searched the Internet, trying to find the right treatment for their disease,” Dr. Jurkunas said. “Some travel across the U.S. just to ask about the latest research. And sometimes you can actually say, ‘Yesterday in the lab, we saw this correlation,’ or ‘we found this new bit of data. And I think it’s going to help you, maybe not now, but in the future.’” Learn more about the Eversight research program and our other Eye and Vision Grant recipients at eversightvision.org/research. Fall 2016 | V I S I O N | Page 5 0929_CT-VISION-Fall2016.indd 5 10/13/16 11:39 AM