Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Fingert lab awarded NIH grant to study genetic causes of glaucoma


Glaucoma is a common disease of the optic nerve that affects over 60 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of blindness and visual disability in the United States. The biological pathways that lead to the disease, however, are not well understood and thus hinder efforts for early detection and treatment.

Researchers at the University of Iowa are working to clarify the causes of glaucoma at the molecular level. Under the direction of John Fingert, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology, the UI Glaucoma Genetics Laboratory is investigating new genes that cause glaucoma and genetic pathways that lead to the disease. The lab previously identified a new glaucoma gene, TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and discovered that duplication of the TBK1 gene is associated with glaucoma.

The National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute awarded the lab a $1.8 million grant to further the study of the genetic causes of normal tension glaucoma. Researchers expect to begin to characterize the biological pathway by which defects in TBK1 lead to glaucoma, validate an animal model of glaucoma, and begin to translate discoveries into new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of disease. For more, visit iowaglaucoma.org