• Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

    The National Institutes of Health has awarded an $11.2 million grant to the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania to study the genetic and other risk factors that make African-Americans disproportionately more likely to develop primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).

    “We aim to understand more about the disease, its causes, and what makes African Americans more prone to developing POAG at a younger age and experiencing its most severe form,” said Joan O’Brien, MD, chair of the department of Ophthalmology at the University’s Perelman School of Medicine, director of the Scheie Eye Institute, and primary investigator on the study. “By dissecting the disease into subtypes (called endophenotyping) and understanding the different genetic underpinnings of the disease, we can begin to develop better, more targeted treatment options.”

    Scheie researchers hypothesize that genetic variants influence the risk of POAG and traits related to that risk, such as intraocular pressure and corneal and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness. In addition, demographic and ocular risk factors and medical co-morbidities also may contribute to the increased risk of POAG in African Americans.