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Scheetz receives $1.1 million grant to study optic nerve head structure

A team of researchers led by Todd Scheetz, associate professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering, was awarded a three-year grant of $1.1 million from the National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health to explore the genetic determinants of optic nerve head structure. Research addresses the progressive loss of the optic nerve, which is a hallmark of glaucoma—a leading cause of irreversible vision loss.

Using computational methods, researchers will attempt to identify biomarkers and/or genetic risk factors that accurately predict changes in the optic nerve head (ONH) structure and development of irreversible glaucomatous optic nerve damage before it occurs. Scheetz and his colleagues believe their research ultimately will help clinicians determine the proportion of ONH structure change that is damage from the disease, as opposed to normal variations in primary ONH structure. In turn, this will improve early diagnosis and effective treatment of glaucoma before vision is lost.

Co-investigators include Michael Abramoff and John Fingert from the department of ophthalmology as well as several other collaborators from the University of Iowa, Washington University in St. Louis, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and University of California-San Diego.

For more information about the research, visit

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Media Contact: Joe Schmidt, Ophthalmology, 319-364-8529; Molly Rossiter, UI Health Care Marketing and Media Relations, 319-356-7127