Ram Sabesan, PhD          Kathryn Pepple, MD, PhD       Mike Manookin, PhD

Three young research faculty from the Department of Ophthalmology at UW Medicine have won prestigious national career development awards in the past two years.

The Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award is given to fewer than 10 individuals nationally each year to support their early-career research.  Ram Sabesan, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, was named recipient in 2016 for his work in applying the advanced technique of adaptive optics imaging to study of responses of single photoreceptors in humans.  Kathryn Pepple, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, was named in 2017 for her work in creating realistic models of ocular inflammatory disease in rodents in order to understand the basic mechanisms of uveitis as well as for screening of potential treatments.  Both awards are four-year grants of $300,000 total.

The Alcon Young Investigator Award is given annually to fewer than 10 early-career vision scientists as well.  Dr. Mike Manookin, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, was named recipient in 2017 for his work on understanding the circuitry of the primate retina using patch-clamp electrophysiology.  In addition to her Research to Prevent Blindness award, Dr. Pepple was also named recipient of the Alcon Young Investigator Award for her work on animal models of uveitis.  Each award is worth $50,000. 

The Department has also been fortunate to be very successful in pursuit of National Institute of Health K-awards for clinician-scientists.  These five year awards, worth approximately $1 million each, support a minimum of 75% research time for early career clinician scientists.  The K23 award supports early-career clinician-investigators in clinical sciences.  Dr. Cecilia Lee, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, holds a K23 to study the molecular epidemiology of infectious eye disease.  Dr. Aaron Lee, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, was recently awarded a K23 to apply computational methods to the understanding of eye disease epidemiology.  The K08 award supports early career clinician-investigators in the basic sciences.  Dr. Pepple (completing the trifecta of early career development awards) holds a K08 for studying mechanisms of uveitis, and Dr. Jennifer Chao, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, recently completed her K08 on the uses of stem cells in the study and treatment of retinal disease, and received her first independent R01 grant in 2016.

Click here to learn more about the Department of Ophthalmology research labs


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