Contact: Mary Leach
BOSTON (July 29, 2014) -- Eric Pierce, M.D., was awarded a $100,000 Nelson Trust Award for retinitis pigmentosa from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The award is designed to stimulate, strengthen, and promote exceptional research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited blinding disease.
A full-time ophthalmologist and molecular geneticist, Dr. Pierce is the Solman and Libe Friedman Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Berman-Gund Laboratory for the Study of Retinal Degenerations and the Electroretinography Service at Mass. Eye and Ear, and Director of the Ocular Genomics Institute at HMS/Mass. Eye and Ear. Dr. Pierce is dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs), and improving therapeutic interventions for these conditions. IRDs are a leading cause of blindness worldwide, and are characterized by progressive dysfunction and death of retinal photoreceptor cells.
Dr. Pierce’s research program focuses on identifying new IRD disease genes, investigating the mechanisms by which mutations in these genes lead to blindness, and using this information to develop therapies to prevent vision loss. His scientific efforts have helped lead to more effective ways to address IRDs using genetic sequencing and gene therapy methods. To date, the Pierce Laboratory has helped discover four genes that harbor mutations that cause inherited retinal degenerations.
“Dr. Pierce’s exciting and very promising work in this area is already accelerating our ability to search for and find specific disease-causing genes, and has great potential to alter the landscape of patient care for people with IRDs such as retinitis pigmentosa,” said Dr. Joan W. Miller, M.D., F.A.R.V.O., Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “In an era of declining federal research funding, we are very grateful for RPB support, which enables us to continue to advance our research programs to find cures for diseases that cause blindness and visual impairment worldwide.”
About Research to Prevent Blindness
RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.