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The Mathers Endowment

Thanks to a generous $9 million donation, we were able to create:

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2021 Mathers Scholarship Recipients

2021 Mathers Scholarship Recipients: Saki Sultana, Mairin Hogan, Emma Smeltzer, Sarah van der End

 

Dr. Saki Sultana is the recipient of the Research Fellowship in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Dr. Sultana, who is under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Kelly, is studying the effects of endocannabinoid signaling pathway manipulation in the pathophysiology of autoimmune uveitis. She will investigate retinal changes in a mouse model of autoimmune uveitis and aims to determine if manipulation in the endocannabinoid system can stop the retina from becoming damaged. The knowledge obtained from this research may help in identifying new therapies for the treatment of uveitis.

The PhD in Vision Science scholarship is awarded to Sara van der Ende. Sara van der Ende, under the supervision of Drs. Christopher McMaster and Johane Robitaille, will perform genetic testing using new technologies in Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy (FEVR) patients without a mutation in a known FEVR gene. She has identified new potential FEVR genes and is performing functional analyses to confirm that the mutations in these new genes cause FEVR. By expanding the list of FEVR-causing genes, more patients will receive a diagnosis earlier, leading to earlier treatment and prevention of vision loss.

The Masters in Clinical Vision Science scholarships are awarded to Mairin Hogan and Emma Smeltzer. Mairin Hogan’s research will be supervised by Dr. Kevin Duffy and Ms.Nadia Dicostanzo. She is studying ocular health and changes in refractive error following intraocular tetrodotoxin for the treatment of unilateral amblyopia. Previous research published by Dr. Duffy’s group showed that intraocular injections of tetrodotoxin were effective in treating unilateral amblyopia in visually mature cats. Mairin will build on this research to determine the safety of intraocular tetrodotoxin determining whether these injections have any effect on the health of the retina or optic nerve and examine the refractive states of treated cats to establish whether retinal inactivation with tetrodotoxin results in refractive error changes. This research will help determine whether tetrodotoxin could be used as an alternative therapy for amblyopia in older populations.

Emma Smeltzer is working under the direction of Dr. Darren Oystreck to investigate the validity of vision tests created in virtual reality (VR) to measure visual function in older children and adults. Her research uses VR to replicate common clinical tests of vision and compare them to their clinical versions in participants with normal and abnormal visual function. Validating VR as a reliable platform to assess subjective visual functioning could overcome many of the limitations of current clinical tests, thus providing more reliable information. In addition to improving information quality, the results of this research may provide additional benefits, such as improved patient engagement and decreased test time, equipment costs and space requirements.

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