Treating macular degeneration: Fulbright Fight for Sight Research Award 2016
Dr Shyamanga Borooah takes the 5th annual award from the prestigious USA-UK partnership for eye research
This year’s Fulbright Fight for Sight Research Award of £75,000 has gone to ophthalmic specialist trainee Dr Shyamanga Borooah at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Borooah will spend a year at the University of California, San Diego working with Professor Radha Ayyagari on early and preventative approaches to treating macular degeneration.
The award is made in partnership with the Fulbright Commission, an organisation set up in 1948 to promote an exchange of education and culture between the UK and the USA. It supports world-class research to prevent sight loss and treat eye conditions by UK scientists and clinicians at an accredited institution in the USA.
“I’m very much looking forward to my year working with Dr Ayyagari’s research group and would like to thank the Fulbright Commission and Fight for Sight for the opportunity,” said Dr Borooah. “Macular degeneration is a devastating condition which is the commonest cause of blindness in industrialised countries. There are still no treatments for the most common forms of macular degeneration. This highlights the need to develop new therapies to prevent blindness from macular degeneration. However, developing interventions has been hampered by the lack of clinically relevant models.
Test bed for treatment
“Professor Ayyagari has developed a unique model of macular degeneration which mimics many of the features of human disease. So my aim with this project is to use the model to test a series of interventions which I have identified during my doctoral studies. The ultimate aim is to develop novel therapies to prevent sight loss from macular degeneration.”
Dr Dolores M Conroy is Director of Research at Fight for Sight. She said: “This is an excellent partnership all round; both between Fight for Sight and the Fulbright commission and between the research skills and experience of Dr Borooah and the USA research group and collaborators. I am sure we will see some positive steps toward gene therapy, drug treatment and cell replacement therapies for macular degeneration as a result.”