Vision Science Center

Supporting vision research is the most impactful and immediate way to change outcomes for patients with eye disease. At the UW Medicine Eye Institute and Vision Science Center, we are working on several approaches to slow or stop vision loss, and even restore vision using stem cell therapy, gene therapy, or drug therapy.  Additionally, our researchers are developing advanced-imaging equipment to better understand how the eye works at a singular cell level and improving technology to better diagnose and treat diseases – ranging from glaucoma, to AMD, to corneal disease.

Select research funds are shown below. For more information on research being done on a specific disease, please contact Abbey Norris, director for philanthropy, at 206.221.8274 or or Savannah Ledgerwood, assistant director for philanthropy, at 206.221.4769 or

Priority Funds

  • Ophthalmology Stem Cell Fund

    Scientists, like Dr. Jennifer Chao, are now able to turn stem cells into retinal cells. Using high-throughput screening technology we hope to use these cells to identify FDA-approved drugs that can slow vision loss. Exciting advancements have also been made using induced-pluripotent stem cells to restore vision.

  • Ocular Inflammation and Infection Fund

    Our researchers, like Dr. Kathryn Pepple, are working on creating new animal models of uveitis to better understand the disease and how to best care for patients. The Van Gelder Lab is also working to develop deep-DNA sequencing tests that can more rapidly identify and target novel pathogens that cause eye infections.

  • Gene Therapy Research Fund

    Drs. Maureen and Jay Neitz are researching how gene therapy can be used to restore vision in common eye diseases, like macular degeneration and glaucoma.

  • Latham Vision Research Innovation Awards

    The Latham Vision Research Innovation awards provide seed funding to faculty pursuing innovative vision research ideas that might not otherwise be funded through traditional sources.

  • Corneal Research Fund

    Dr. Tueng Shen is working to create a better, more cost-effective artificial cornea. Her hope is to build a biocompatible cornea that can be used in places where they do not have easy access to human tissue for transplants. Dr. Shen is also working to develop micro-electronics that can be embedded into interocular lenses that can monitor a patient’s health via cell phone.

  • Glaucoma Research Fund

    Dr. Phillip Chen and others at the Eye Institute are exploring how advanced OCT imaging can help to diagnosis patients with glaucoma earlier, before there is significant vision loss.