Research to Prevent Blindness, Aerie teaming up to offer glaucoma research grant

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Two grants will be available, each offering $150,000 to scientists focusing on glaucoma research who have already received their first independent federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant and are collecting new and novel data to apply for a second R01.

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) and Aerie Pharmaceuticals are teaming up to offer the chance for early- and mid-career vision scientists to pursue glaucoma research. 

According to a news release, RPB will launch the RPB/David L. Epstein Career Advancement Award in Glaucoma Research, sponsored by Aerie Pharmaceuticals.

Two awards—one available now and one in 2023—will provide $150,000 each to scientists focusing on glaucoma research who have already received their first independent federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant (the R01 grant) and are collecting new and novel data to apply for a second R01.

RPB noted that its Scientific Advisory Panel identified the time period between R01s as a critical “gap” in the funding pipeline, leading RPB to create the Career Advancement Award. Filling this gap offers researchers the chance to build upon previous research and make important advances in vision science.

This award is named in memory of David L. Epstein, MD (1943 to 2014), a glaucoma researcher who served on RPB’s grant review committees and who went on to co-found Aerie Pharmaceuticals, along with Eric Toone, PhD, and Casey C. Kopczynski, PhD, who now serves as Aerie’s chief innovation officer.

Brian F. Hofland, PhD, president of Research to Prevent Blindness, said the organization is pleased to be partnering with Aerie on this effort to further glaucoma research.

“Organizationally, we are located at opposite ends of the research pipeline—from RPB at the basic research end to Aerie at the forefront of clinical research and application—but we’ve come together to support vision researchers in a critical period in their scientific careers because we both acknowledge that excellent science leads to effective treatments,” Hofland said in a statement.

In 2022, the RPB / David Epstein Career Advancement Award in Glaucoma Research sponsored by Aerie Pharmaceuticals will offer one award to an Assistant Professor (MDs, PhDs, or MD/PhDs) with a primary appointment in a department of ophthalmology or any relevant department from any institution of higher education in the U.S. candidates must have their first NIH R01 with at least one year remaining.

“With this award we honor the legacy of our co-founder Dr. David Epstein and demonstrate our continued commitment to support research to identify novel therapeutics to treat glaucoma,” Gary Sternberg, MD, chief medical officer of Aerie, added in a statement.