UC Davis receives AMD grant

October 12, 2011

University of California, Davis researchers have received a 3-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute to study the cellular changes that cause age-related macular degeneration.

Sacramento, CA-University of California, Davis (UC Davis) researchers have received a 3-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) to study the cellular changes that cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

With this funding, UC Davis researchers will look at how the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is affected by epigenetic factors-changes that alter gene expression while leaving the original genome sequence intact. Preliminary research by the team showed that the expression in several genes important to RPE cells changes with age.

“We want to know the biochemical changes in retinal cells that occur with aging and increase the susceptibility for this disease,” said Larry Hjelmeland, PhD, principal investigator on the grant and professor of ophthalmology with the UC Davis Eye Center.

“Looking at aging as an epigenetic phenomenon clearly represents a big step forward for the study of AMD,” added Dr. Hjelmeland, whose project is one of the first to be funded by the NEI to explore the link between epigenetics and eye disease.

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