Medical research is typically an isolated activity. Researchers rarely share ideas until they publish their findings. When Glaucoma Research Foundation launched Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) in 2002, our bold idea was to recruit the most promising young researchers from different fields to work together collaboratively to discover the basic mechanisms of glaucoma.
We asked the CFC research team to test their ideas early and often in disease models to accelerate the path to a cure. We sought to change medical research from an isolated effort to a collaborative goal-oriented approach.
We now have a proven collaborative research model that has broadened our understanding of glaucoma and is now focusing efforts on new biomarkers for early disease detection, and new avenues for neuroprotection and vision restoration.
An Unprecedented Approach
With Catalyst for a Cure, Glaucoma Research Foundation marked the launch of an unprecedented approach in the field. Our Scientific Advisory Board intentionally sought experts outside the mainstream of glaucoma investigation to ensure a fresh perspective.
They asked the CFC researchers to only do projects that took full advantage of their combined skill sets. As a result of this innovative approach, the original team of CFC researchers made significant findings that changed our understanding of the disease.
In recent years, the impact of our approach has been multiplying. CFC-authored publications are among the top ten most referenced in the field. Follow-on National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding exceeded our own $9 million investment and other national organizations are sanctioning and duplicating our pioneering model.
Taking CFC into consideration, in 2015 the National Eye Institute specifically endorsed “cross-functional groups” and collaboration as part of its revised research strategy.
Catalyst for a Cure is an ongoing, multi-year collaboration of laboratories at leading universities. The CFC collaboration has not only made exceptional progress in its own research, but also has reshaped the direction of glaucoma research and the way it is conducted. CFC research is continuing to broaden our understanding of the mechanics of glaucoma and how best to intervene to preserve sight and even restore lost vision.
First posted on January 7, 2015; Reviewed and updated on May 6, 2022