Christina Marsica Grassi Awarded RPB Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship

Contact: Mary Leach
617-573-4170

BOSTON (Jan.22, 2014) -- The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology has been granted a $30,000 Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship for Christina Marsica Grassi. 
This grant will enable Ms. Grassi to take a year-long sabbatical from medical school to pursue a research project within the Massachusetts Eye and Ear and HMS Department of Ophthalmology. Ms. Grassi will work with Dr. James Chodosh in the Howe Laboratory's Viral Pathogenesis Unit at Mass. Eye and Ear.

“The goal of Ms. Grassi’s project is to elucidate the mechanisms that trigger the development of sterile vitritis in patients who have received an artificial Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro) implant. These studies also may enrich our understanding of immune responses to other indwelling prosthetic devices,” said Joan W. Miller, M.D., F.A.R.V.O., Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital and Chair of the HMS Department of Ophthalmology.

For patients who have failed corneal allograft surgery or are poor candidates for corneal transplantation, the damaged cornea can be replaced with a keratoprosthesis, or an artificial cornea, but post-operative inflammation remains a problem for many patients. A poorly characterized, idiopathic inflammation of the vitreous humor, called sterile vitritis, is one manifestation of inflammation after KPro implantation, Dr. Miller explained. The RPB Fellowship Grant will enable Ms. Grassi to conduct research that may lead to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that control this process and, ultimately, help refine the technology and improve outcomes for patients with this condition.

About RPB
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 all blinding eye diseases. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.