Winners of ARVO Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowship Announced

Rockville, Md.—The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) announced today the recipients of the 2023 ARVO Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowship: José Arthur Milhomens Filho, MD; Maria Constanza Paz, PhD; Raba Thapa, PhD.

With the goal of strengthening ophthalmic research capacities worldwide, the Fellowship pairs early-career researchers from developing countries with collaborating scientists in well-established research laboratories. Fellows receive a $10,000 award to support a one-year project, which can include additional training in specialty equipment or research methodologies.

Filho is a post-graduate student at the Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM) – Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil. He will use the award for his research evaluating the levels of the inflammatory molecules in the tear and corneal epithelial cells of keratoconus patients. He will also test 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,” says Fhilho. “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.”

Paz 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. The funding will support her research to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms triggered by a2M in retinal neurodegeneration, about which little is known currently. Paz says the award, “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.” She noted that the “ARVO Foundation Collaborative Research Fellowship is a necessary supplemental laboratory funding for my current position of early career independent investigator…I consider it highly valuable that the ARVO Foundation promotes international scientific interactions, which helps early career researchers to grow.”

Thapa 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. With retinal diseases being the major cause of blindness in Nepal, she will use the funding to explore the prevalence, pattern and associated factors for retinal diseases among the population residing in high altitudes. “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,” says 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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The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at ARVO.org.

Established in 2001, the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research raises funds through partnerships, grants and sponsorships to support ARVO’s world-class education and career development resources for eye and vision researchers of all stages of career and education. Learn more at ARVOFoundation.org.