daily californian logo

BERKELEY'S NEWS • NOVEMBER 27, 2022

Take a look at our 2022 midterm elections special issue!

Research initiative studies prevention of neurodegenerative diseases

article image

MICHELLE DE ELIZALDE/GLAUCOMA RESEARCH FOUNDATION | COURTESY

Milica Margeta (top left), Sandro Da Mesquita (top right), Karthik Shekhar (bottom left) and Humsa Venkatesh (bottom right).

SUPPORT OUR NONPROFIT NEWSROOM

We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

JULY 18, 2022

Working with UC Berkeley researchers, the Glaucoma Research Foundation launched a research initiative July 15 studying neurodegenerative diseases, such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease.

Founded in 1978, the research center is the largest nonprofit for glaucoma research, according to Glaucoma Research Foundation President and CEO Thomas Brunner. The center has funded four total research initiatives following its Catalyst for a Cure model, which coordinates and funds teams of scientists with support provided from scientific advisors.

According to Brunner, the foundation’s latest initiative named Melza M. and Frank Theodore Barr Catalyst for a Cure to Prevent and Cure Neurodegeneration brings together four researchers from different institutions and backgrounds. One of these researchers is Karthik Shekhar, campus assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“The idea here is to see if we bring people together with different scientific backgrounds and experiences and across different neurodegenerative diseases, that they might have some unique insights, get some new ideas and perhaps some breakthroughs that could lead to preventing and curing these diseases,” Brunner said.

The four researchers involved in the initiative met for the first time July 15, the date of the initiative’s launch, to discuss their goals, said initiative researcher and Harvard Medical School assistant professor Milica Margeta. The researchers will work in their own labs and toward their shared goals, Margeta added.

Unlike many other grants, the researchers were given a lot of flexibility with the direction of their research, according to Margeta. Typically, detailed proposals must be written before research projects are able to receive funding, but in this case, the researchers met for the first time and discussed their plans after receiving funding, she said.

“We will closely work together and come up with these goals that will bring our research areas together and hopefully come up with some very novel ideas and policies or findings that one wouldn’t be able to figure out if one just worked in isolation,” Margeta said.

According to Scientific Advisory Board chair and University of Montreal professor Adriana Di Polo, the goal of the research initiative is to find similarities across multiple neurodegenerative diseases — such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease — in order to eventually prevent and identify therapies for them.

The research initiative aims to address the “huge unmet need” surrounding neurodegenerative diseases, according to Brunner. He added that glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness, but that there is currently no cure.

“What makes me passionate about it is I can see that this research model really works,” Brunner said. “It really produces important findings and I’m just excited about continuing that with these teams and seeing how they come together.”

Contact Tiffany Lieu at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyplieu.
LAST UPDATED

JULY 19, 2022


Related Articles

featured article
The city of Berkeley partnered with Steamworks, a bathhouse in Berkeley that primarily serves gay men, to provide monkeypox vaccines to the public.
The city of Berkeley partnered with Steamworks, a bathhouse in Berkeley that primarily serves gay men, to provide monkeypox vaccines to the public.
featured article
featured article
UC Berkeley scientists are using or planning to use NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, to further research in a range of astronomical phenomena.
UC Berkeley scientists are using or planning to use NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, to further research in a range of astronomical phenomena.
featured article
featured article
For years, scientists have worked to create an energy-dense and eco-friendly fuel and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or Berkeley Lab, researchers have finally created one — biofuel derived from bacteria.
For years, scientists have worked to create an energy-dense and eco-friendly fuel and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or Berkeley Lab, researchers have finally created one — biofuel derived from bacteria.
featured article