W. Clay Smith receives merit award for eye research

W. Clay Smith, Ph.D., of the University of Florida College of Medicine, has been granted a $60,000 RPB Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award by Research to Prevent Blindness.

Established in 1995, the Lew R. Wasserman Merit Awards provide unrestricted support to mid-career M.D. and Ph.D. scientists who hold primary positions within departments of ophthalmology and who are actively engaged in eye research at medical institutions in the United States. Smith is one of 108 scientists at 44 institutions who have been honored with this award.

Smith’s research focuses on the interactions of elements in the retina that are responsible for capturing light and regulating the use of metabolic resources in cells known as photoreceptors. Defects in these components and their interactions have been shown to cause retinitis pigmentosa and may also lead to macular defects. Recent discoveries showing that light can regulate the consumption of metabolic reserves offer a new avenue to explore for therapeutic intervention in these diseases.

RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.

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