Kleinman Receives American Federation for Aging Research Grant

Dr. Mark E. Kleinman, assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and principal investigator in the laboratory of ocular biology and imaging, has been awarded a research grant from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) to pursue his research on age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an epidemic in the developed world and the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 55 years old. The hallmark of the disease is the formation of subretinal deposits called drusen that induce inflammation, spur leaky choroidal vascular in-growth, and result in atrophy of overlying specialized retinal cell types.

While the cause of this disorder is likely multifactorial, the downstream molecular pathways by which critical photoreceptor and other retinal architecture are destroyed may be convergent. Current therapies arrest the growth of abnormal subretinal blood vessels and leakage into the subretinal space, but there are inadequate pharmacologic approaches to address the irreversible loss of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the advanced atrophic form of the disease. The research supported by this grant seeks to resolve critical intersections in pathways leading to retinal cell death and identify feasible approaches to non-invasively image retinal cell death in vivo using fluorescent probes.

The major goal of AFAR is to assist in the development of the careers of junior investigators committed to pursuing careers in the field of aging research. AFAR supports research projects concerned with understanding the basic mechanisms of aging.

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or ann.blackford@uky.edu