Qingxian Lu, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, has received the $60,000 William and Mary Greve Special Scholar Award from the Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) organization. The funds will go toward Lu's research in retinitis pigmentosa, a group of genetic disorders that can lead to night blindness, loss of peripheral vision and total blindness.
Lu's research focuses specifically on a cellular receptor called MerTK, which may play a role in limiting the duration of immune response, leading to the development of retinal inflammation. Understanding this mechanism of action may lead to better prevention and treatment techniques in the future.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited disorders caused by molecular defects in more than 100 different genes. Navajo Indians are the ethnic group most affected by it.
"The RPB Special Scholar Award will significantly accelerate our ongoing research programs and secure a continuous investigation of the cellular activity related to the development of the retinal autoimmunity that occurs in retinitis pigmentosa," Lu said.