UK assistant professor has been awarded a $65,000 grant to support new UK research on coloboma, a leading cause of blindness in children.

UK researcher uses zebrafish to study eye disorder

UK Assistant Professor of Biology Jakub Famulski has been awarded a Career Starter Grant by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The $65,000 grant will support Famulski’s new UK research on coloboma, a leading cause of blindness in children. The eye abnormality occurs before birth and involves missing tissue in or around the eye.

Famulski and his collaborators recently discovered a new type of coloboma, superior coloboma, which occurs in the top of the eye. But the underlying cause of most coloboma cases remains unknown.

To better understand the disorder, Famulski and UK graduate students Kristyn Van Der Meulen and Nicholas Carrara will use zebrafish as a model to study how coloboma occurs in the eye’s early development. With zebrafish, the team can easily and efficiently observe, manage and change cells in the laboratory.

“For a junior faculty member like myself, this grant is not only great financial help, but also confirmation that scientists in the community value this work, which I hope will help patients suffering from this disorder,” Famulski said.

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, incorporated in 1956, works to improve vision through research, education and supporting access to care. Since its beginning, the foundation has awarded more than $23 million in grants to pediatric ophthalmology research. Thanks to this most recent grant, new UK research can help Famulski make a difference through the power of advanced medicine.