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The Mathers Endowment

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


2023 Mathers Scholarship Recipients

2023 Mathers Scholarship Recipients (from the left clockwise): Erin Ivany, Delaney Henderson, Maja Witter, Aliénor Jamet, Robyn McGowan


Dr. Delaney Henderson is the recipient of the Research Fellowship in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Dr. Henderson, who is under the supervision of Dr. Balwantray Chauhan, is studying delivery of genes for fluorescent molecules to allow visualization of cells in the retina. This technique could be used as an imaging tool to visualize cellular function and dysfunction over time. The aim of the study is to track the functional behavior of individual RGCs before and after injury such as models of experimental glaucoma to characterize the loss of function over time in a living animal. Results of this study will increase our understanding of the properties of cellular loss of function and the safety of this technique so that it can be used as a clinical diagnostic tool in the future.

The PhD in Vision Science scholarship is awarded to Aliénor Jamet, who under the supervision of Dr. Balwantray Chauhan, is studying how to accurately monitor glaucoma disease stages by estimating retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss from the single-cell level. This project will focus on single cell imaging of RGCs to monitor and detect the earliest alterations in their structure over time. They will subsequently use this technology to test a novel gene therapy-based treatment of glaucoma. This research will not only allow us to visualize how glaucoma compromises single RGC but also enable us to quantify the improvement that new drug treatments have at level of the individual cell in vivo.

Robyn McGowan is the recipient of the Masters in Vision Science scholarship and is studying the retinal photoreceptor pre-synaptic protein, Pikachurin, under the direction of Dr. Melina Agosto. Pikachurin and other proteins on both sides of the photoreceptor and bipolar cell synapse are required for the proper formation and function of the synapse. Although photoreceptors have been studied extensively, little is known about how presynaptic proteins are directed to their correct location at the synapses, or how the trans-synaptic complexes are formed. Successful completion of this project will ameliorate gaps in knowledge about the structural parts of Pikachurin that are involved in its delivery to photoreceptor synapses and LRRTM4 binding.

The Masters in Clinical Vision Sciences scholarship is awarded to Erin Ivany, who is working under the supervision of Ms. Leah Walsh. Erin is evaluating the newer approach to stereopsis testing using "PASS III", a test utilizing objective preferential looking (eye movements) against a current clinical standard test which requires a subjective pointing or verbal response, in 2-5-year-olds. Determining an accurate measure of stereopsis in young children is important because it is routinely considered when determining the urgency of surgical management for eye misalignment and outcome predictability.

Maja Witter is the recipient of the Undergraduate scholarship and is working with Dr. Balwantray Chauhan. Their project will develop an automated cell counting tool to handle unique features in retinal images, evaluating different methods to maximize accuracy. This will allow glaucoma research to progress faster by saving countless hours spent on manually counting cells to quantify disease progression.

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