Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Trainee Grants Announced

The McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Research and Leadership Committees are pleased to announce that Michael Landowski, PhD, and Kazuya Oikawa, BVSc, are the 2019 recipients of the Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Trainee Grants.

Michael Landowski, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Aki Ikeda’s lab group in the Department of Medical Genetics. He will pursue a project exploring a protein that may be important in maintaining mitochondrial dynamics “A role of TMEM135 in retinal glucose and lipid metabolism,” and looking at age-dependent retinal pathology development in a mouse model.

Kazuya Oikawa, BVSc, is a graduate student in the Comparative Biomedical Science Program in the School of Veterinary Medicine and is mentored by Dr. Gillian McLellan (Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Department of Surgical Sciences).  He will be advancing understanding of “Optic nerve head neuroinflammation in a spontaneous large animal model of glaucoma.” 

These one-year grant awards of $4000 each are funded by the Institute’s annual Cycle for Sight event, which raises money to support research in McPherson ERI member labs and programs.

Valentyn family, with Kenzi at center
Valentyn family, with Kenzi at center

Vision Research Trainee Grants, the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s research grant opportunity for trainees, were established in 2017. This year and in the future, these grants have been renamed the Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Trainee Grants — to honor Kenzi’s courage and positive attitude throughout her long battle with Kearns-Sayre syndrome, a degenerative disease with symptoms including vision loss, which ended with her passing at age 30 in March 2017. Her many friends and family members, including her parents Tim and Nancy, brothers Brett and Connor, and sister-in-law Mackenzie, have ridden in Cycle for Sight as “Kenzi’s Team” since 2014. The McPherson ERI is sincerely grateful for the Valentyn family’s dedication to vision research.