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Winners of 2023 ARVO research fellowships announced

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Three recipients will each receive up to $10,000 toward their research on a 1-year project that can go toward additional training in specialty equipment or research methodologies.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) announced the winners of its 2023 ARVO Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowship recently.

According to an ARVO news release, Fellows José Arthur Milhomens Filho, MD; Maria Constanza Paz, PhD; Raba Thapa, PhD will each receive up to $10,000 toward their research on a 1-year project. These funds can go towards additional training in specialty equipment or research methodologies.

According to ARVO, the goal of the Fellowship is to pair early-career researchers from developing countries with collaborating scientists in well-established research laboratories to strengthen ophthalmic research capabilities worldwide.

José Arthur Milhomens Filho, MD, is a post-graduate student at the Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM) - Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil. Filho plans to use this Fellowship on his research evaluating the levels of the inflammatory molecules in the tear and corneal epithelial cells of keratoconus patients, and if these can be used as biomarkers to identify greater severity and progression of the disease.

"As a native Brazilian, I am the first in my family to follow the area of Ophthalmology, so I am excited to keep pushing forward with my education," Filho said in the ARVO release. "I feel that this award means recognition of the importance of our project which aims to improve understanding of a particular disease with such a huge social impact as keratoconus."

Maria Constanza Paz, PhD, is an assistant researcher at the Centro de Investigación en Bioquímica Clínica (CIBICI)-Consejo Nacional de Investigación en Ciencia y Tecnología (CONICET), Departamento de Bioquímica Clínica, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. Paz will use the funding to research cellular and molecular mechanisms triggered by alpha2-Macroglobulin (a2M) in retinal neurodegeneration, an area in which little is currently known.

Thanks to the Fellowship, Paz said it "will enable development of novel therapeutic approaches, more specific and fit-for-the-purpose related with the ability to modulate autophagic flux and/or the deleterious effect of a2M."

Raba Thapa, PhD, is an associate professor of ophthalmology at the National Academy of Medical Sciences and a consultant vitreo-retinal surgeon at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Nepal. Thapa will use the funding to explore the prevalence, pattern, and associated factors for retinal diseases among the population residing in high altitudes, since retinal diseases are the major cause of blindness in Nepal.

"The findings of the study will help to develop appropriate strategies in the future among the high-risk people to reduce the avoidable blindness from retinal diseases," said Thapa. “I am very grateful to the ARVO Foundation... This award will certainly help to boost my career in research works, networking and collaborations in the future for many needful research works in the field of ophthalmology and visual science for helping in reducing blindness especially to those living in remote areas and at low middle income countries. The research findings will also help for policy makers and other stakeholders working in reducing blindness globally."

For more information on the ARVO Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowship, visit ARVO’s website.


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