The McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Research and Leadership Committees are pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Grants. Allison Ludwig, Kushin Mukherjee, Aindrila Saha, and Kara Vogel will each receive a one-year grant award of $5000 funded by the Institute’s Cycle for Sight event, which raises money to support vision research in McPherson ERI member labs and programs. Due to the success of last year’s Cycle for Sight, the McPherson ERI was able to increase both the number of awards and the award funding amount this year.
Allison Ludwig is a Veterinary Medicine student and a researcher mentored by David Gamm, MD, PhD (Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences). Her project is the Development of a photoreceptor enrichment protocol to advance cell replacement therapies.
Kushin Mukherjee is a graduate student in Psychology (mentored by Tim Rogers, PhD). His focus is on Understanding how visual communication shapes the structure of visual concept representations.
Aindrila Saha is a graduate student in Neuroscience (mentored by Raunak Sinha, PhD), who works on Understanding cone signaling in primate fovea and the characterization of light responses in hPSC-derived organoid cones.
Kara Vogel is a postdoctoral researcher in Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences (mentored by Gillian McLellan, PhD), who focuses on LTBP2: the mechanistic underpinnings of glaucoma.
Kenzi Valentyn Vision Research Awards, the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s research grant opportunity for trainees, were established in 2017. They are named after Kenzi Valentyn, in honor of her 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.