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The 2023 Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research

GRF's $50,000 grants initiate creative research ideas.

March 14, 2023, San Francisco, CA — Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) today announced the eight researchers receiving their 2023 Shaffer Research Grants. These one-year grants help to initiate creative research ideas and the scientific results often lead to additional funding. Each Shaffer Grant awards $50,000 to enable a promising scientist to advance their career in glaucoma research and do the experiments to support their hypotheses. To date, close to 300 grants have been awarded thanks to generous philanthropic support.

“The Shaffer Grants present a unique opportunity for investigators to pursue truly innovative ideas that would not be funded via traditional funding sources,” said GRF Board Chair, Andrew Iwach, MD. “As a result of this ‘proof of concept’ funding some past Shaffer Grant recipients subsequently received significant funding via more traditional sources,” he added.

The 2023 Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research were awarded to:

  • Benjamin J. Frankfort, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, for his project: “Adrenergic Receptor Function and Role in Neuroprotection”
  • Karsten Gronert, PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, for his project: “LXB4 Regulation of Microglia Homeostatic Function a Neuroprotective Target”
  • Wendy Liu, MD, PhD, at Stanford University, for her project: “Investigating Mechanosensitive Ion Channel Variants and their Role in Glaucoma”
  • Xiaorong Liu, PhD, University of Virginia, for her project: “An In Vivo Biomarker to Monitor Glaucoma Progression”
  • Cezary Rydz, MD, at University of California, Irvine, for his project: “Modulating Ocular Hypertension Induced Accelerated Aging in Rodent Retina”
  • James Tribble, PhD, at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, for the project: “Drug-driven Identification of Inflammatory Pathways in Retinal Microglia”
  • James Walsh, MD, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis, for his project: “Choroid Resident T cells are Vital for Retinal Ganglion Cell Neuroprotection in Ocular Hypertensive Injury”
  • Benjamin Xu, MD, PhD, at the University of Southern California, for the project: “In Vivo Ultrasound Elastography of Iris Stiffness in Angle Closure Glaucoma.”

Impact of Shaffer Grants

Research outcomes from previous Shaffer Grant recipients demonstrate the impact of this funding in catalyzing the growth and productivity of glaucoma research laboratories across the United States. 93% of surveyed Shaffer Grant recipients said that the Shaffer Grant helped them pursue an innovative idea that would otherwise not have been pursued.

“Typically, the scientific results from these project grants allow the researchers to apply for and obtain larger, more competitive funding from the National Eye Institute of the NIH and from their university and other foundations,” said GRF President and CEO, Thomas M. Brunner. “Many Shaffer Grant awardees have gone on to make significant contributions to improve glaucoma treatments and the quality of life for glaucoma patients,” he added.

About Glaucoma Research Foundation

Founded in San Francisco in 1978, Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is America’s oldest and most experienced institution dedicated solely to its mission: to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research. GRF has a proven track record of ground-breaking, results-oriented research and produces definitive educational materials used by eye care professionals across the country. The Glaucoma Research Foundation website provides valuable information about glaucoma to 3 million visitors annually.


Posted on March 14, 2023