Kleinman Receives NIH Grant for Ophthalmology Research

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2011) − Dr. Mark E. Kleinman, assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, has received a five-year Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award totaling $1.7 million from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Kleinman will conduct his research under the mentorship of Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati. With the award, Kleinman will focus his studies on a molecule known as CCR3 in the biology and therapy of abnormal blood vessel growth in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A previous study from Ambati’s lab, published in Nature, showed the importance of CCR3 in the early stages of the “wet” form of AMD. Kleinman will develop further insights into how CCR3 is involved in this disease process and develop ways to visualize the presence of CCR3 in the living eye to detect the disease at its earliest stages.

Kleinman will use the award to train in advanced techniques in molecular biology while performing the work. The award will also provide support to initiate new studies focused on the dysregulation of endothelial cells, a specialized cell type that lines the blood vessels.

During the award period, Kleinman will be gathering expertise in mass spectrometry based proteomics and imaging in collaboration with Bert Lynn, professor in UK’s Department of Chemistry, and Vanderbilt University Mass Spectrometry Research Center. These investigations will expand the fundamental knowledge in specific regulators of abnormal blood vessel development in the aging eye as well as identify novel mediators that may be suitable therapeutic targets. 

Kleinman will also be working in conjunction with Dr. Marc Rothenberg, an expert in allergic immunology and chemokine receptor biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to further the basic scientific understanding of specific inflammatory receptors found on abnormal vascular cells.

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