Impact of GRF Shaffer Grants: Catalyzing the Careers of Glaucoma Researchers

Glaucoma Research Foundation Shaffer Grants present a unique opportunity for investigators to pursue innovative ideas in the spirit of high risk/high reward scientific discovery.

Shaffer Grants present a unique opportunity for investigators to pursue innovative ideas in the spirit of high risk/high reward scientific discovery.

An emphasis is placed on projects that explore new ideas in the realm of glaucoma research.

In addition to funding important research discoveries, the Shaffer Grants have advanced the involvement of key research scientists in glaucoma research as well as their career development as mentors for the next generation of glaucoma researchers.

We asked Shaffer Grant recipients from 2009-2016 how the grants impacted their career advancement:

“The Shaffer Grant planted the seed of glaucoma research in my lab.”

— Shunbin Xu, MD, PhD, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

“The Shaffer Grant allowed me to focus on understanding the molecular signaling pathways controlling axonal degeneration. This was a new direction for my group and for the glaucoma field in general.”

— Richard T. Libby, PhD, Professor, University of Rochester Medical School

“The Shaffer Grant was my first grant I received as a new assistant professor. It was instrumental in getting my research started. The data collected was used to obtain a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) and we have continued this research. Our recent papers and publications reflect the continuation of the research funded by the Shaffer Grant.”

— Deborah C. Otteson, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Houston

“The Shaffer Grant was instrumental in kick-starting my research career in glaucoma.”

— Kate Keller, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Oregon Health & Science University

“The Shaffer Grant has been transformative in allowing me to move from my interest and work in neuroscience into a new line of work to serve a health need in glaucoma. This has directly resulted in a NEI grant and continues to help us push forward in new directions. The startup funds from the Shaffer Grant were the key fuel to push these ideas into productive research.”

— Matthew A. Smith, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh

“The Shaffer Grant has added to my ability to translate our drug findings into clinically usable ideas.”

— Leonard Levin, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, McGill University

“The Shaffer Grant allowed us to venture out of our standard comfort zone into the impact of neuroinflammation on ganglion cell pathology. It also helped foster the career of a very promising graduate student by allowing her to conduct research outside of our mainstream funding, resulting in two important papers in high level journals.”

— Robert Nickells, PhD, Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The Shaffer Grant helped me to obtain my first NEI R01 grant and a move to Vanderbilt University where my research program has been able to thrive. It allowed me to move into the field of glaucoma and retinal ganglion cell neurodegeneration.”

— Tonia S. Rex, PhD, Associate Professor, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

“The Shaffer Grant let me pursue my research project from the start! And here I am ten years later with an R01 renewal and a path to a new therapy.”

— Raquel Lieberman, PhD, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ultimately, the Shaffer Grants have been successful in catalyzing major scientific findings and cultivating the involvement of budding and senior scientists in this exciting field. We applaud the recipients in their success and the impact of this research on the search for a cure.


Posted on June 18, 2018; Reviewed on March 18, 2022