Shuliang Jiao, Ph.D., associate professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant was awarded to aid in his research with new imaging technologies that will be a significant tool for diagnosis, staging, and follow-up of retinal degenerative disorders.
Photoreceptors are light-detecting cells initiating vision. Loss of photoreceptors leads to loss of vision. This happens in millions of Americans with hereditary retinal degenerations or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Loss of vision is not only a personal tragedy but also a burden to the society. It is estimated that a patient with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) has an average health care cost of $7,000/year, more than that of age-matched non-RP patients. Dr. Shuliang Jiao’s grant will help him develop three new in vivo imaging technologies for mapping rhodopsin, the functional and anatomic biomarker of rod photoreceptors. These new imaging technologies will have a great impact on patient care and clinical trials for potential treatments for retinal degenerative disorders, including hereditary retinal degeneration, AMD, and other diseases.