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7.25.2018

Bascom Palmer Scientist Receives Inaugural Grant for Big Data Research to Advance Patient Care

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) have announced the first recipients of the Research to Prevent Blindness/American Academy of Ophthalmology Award for IRIS® Registry Research. The grant supports researchers who want to conduct population-based studies in ophthalmology and blindness prevention.

The two organizations created the grant to engage clinical researchers to use the power of the Academy’s IRIS Registry database to investigate the causes of both rare and common eye diseases, and to uncover innovative approaches to prevention and treatment. The IRIS Registry is the world’s largest medical specialty clinical database, having amassed data on 50 million patients.

Elizabeth Vanner, Ph.D., scientist/biostatistician at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is one of the grant recipients. Ophthalmologists and their patients had hoped the landmark Tube Versus Trabeculectomy trial would settle the question of which surgical option is preferred for glaucoma: trabeculectomy or tubes and shuts. Dr. Vanner will use the IRIS Registry to gain more insight into the best treatment.

Research to Prevent Blindness is a leading catalyst for research to eliminate blinding disease. Through its robust grants program, the nonprofit organization is associated with nearly every major breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of vision loss that has occurred in the past 50 years.

Each grant, worth $35,000, provides recipients with a subset of the massive IRIS Registry database for analysis based on their study. Researchers also receive training on how to use the IRIS Registry’s analytic capabilities, as well as $10,000 in direct research funds. Results will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication within six months of study completion.

Launched in 2014, the IRIS Registry is the nation’s first comprehensive eye disease clinical registry. The Academy developed this data-rich resource to empower ophthalmologists to effectively improve their practices, and to reveal patterns of disease and better approaches to their prevention and treatment.

“With more than 210 million patient visits recorded, the IRIS Registry database offers these grant winners an excellent opportunity to refine our knowledge of eye disease and help us improve our patients’ lives,” said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “These researchers’ work promises to make significant contributions to ophthalmology.”

“We are very excited about the first round of grants associated with this award. Using the massive dataset that is the IRIS Registry will allow clinical researchers to combine a population health approach to vision research with the scientific rigor that is a hallmark of the RPB grants program,” said Brian Hofland, Ph.D., president of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). “On behalf of RPB and its Board of Trustees, I congratulate our first round of awardees and look forward to seeing the work that they will produce.”

Four more grants will be awarded in 2019. The application process will open October 1. For more information, visit the Academy’s website.

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