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Release: Sept. 11, 2000

UI ophthalmologist receives Research to Prevent Blindness award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care ophthalmologist has received a $180,000 Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). The four-year award was effective in July and will support research by Andrew J. Lotery, M.D., who recently joined the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences as an assistant professor.

This is the first time the UI has received an RPB Career Development Award. The award fund was established by the RPB in 1990 to attract young physicians and scientists to eye research. Lotery was nominated for the award last year by Thomas A. Weingeist, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor and head of ophthalmology and visual sciences, with the intent that Lotery would join the UI faculty and spend 75 percent or more of his time engaged in basic and clinical research.

Lotery's research involves investigating the genetic causes of blinding conditions of childhood such as Leber's congenital amaurosis, a condition in which children are born blind. He also studies the genetic causes of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the elderly in the Western world, and works towards methods of delivering gene therapy to the human eye. Such therapy may eventually also contribute to a cure for Batten disease, which blinds and ultimately kills those affected by it.

"The Career Development Award will help me develop my career as both a doctor and a scientist and use my expertise in both fields to help patients," Lotery said. "I am very excited about the award and feel privileged to be able to practice as a clinical scientist at this time. The information from the human genome project gives us the opportunity to develop new treatments for many diseases that are currently incurable."

Prior to joining the UI faculty, Lotery completed a two-year fellowship in molecular ophthalmology and medical retina with Edwin Stone, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor in ophthalmology and visual sciences and director of the UI Center for Macular Degeneration. Lotery completed his medical training and residency in ophthalmology in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

RPB is the world's leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since its founding in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $177 million to medical institutions for research into the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases. To date, the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has received more than $1.9 million in support from RPB.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.