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Ophthalmologists Receive National Recognition  

Media Contact: Ann Blackford, 859-323-6363, x230 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 11, 2009) - Four of the most promising ophthalmologist-scientists in the country have been selected to present their best work at a resident and fellow research forum presented by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology/Research to Prevent Blindness (AUPO/RPB). Two recipients of this year's honor are Dr. Romulo Albuquerque and Dr. Mark Kleinman from the University of Kentucky's Department of Ophthalmology. This is the first time in the 11 year history of the program that two researchers from the same institution have been accepted.

Recipients of this prestigious honor are residents or fellows carrying out research on a full or part-time basis in any approved residency training program in the United States and Canada. The establishment of the AUPO/RPB Resident and Fellow Research Forum is an acknowledgment by the AUPO of the importance of research in ophthalmic education and is intended to encourage the most promising residents and fellows to pursue a career in academic ophthalmology and vision research.

The abstracts submitted by Albuquerque and Kleinman detail their findings on the role of specific immune system triggers that induce the death of retinal cells leading to age-related macular degeneration. It also dovetails with previous work demonstrating the non-targeted effects of the siRNA on abnormal blood vessel growth in retinal disease as well as its retinotoxic side-effects.

Both Albuquerque and Kleinman have made significant contributions in the research laboratory of Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, a nationally and internationally recognized authority on research to prevent blindness. Albuquerque is currently an M.D./PhD. student in the Department of Ophthalmology at UK's College of Medicine. While in medical school, Albuquerque investigated the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the remarkable avascularity of the cornea. The results of his research efforts were reflected in a paper published in Nature (Ambati, et al. Nature 2006). Albuquerque plans to develop a career as a clinician-scientist in ophthalmology dedicated to the pursuit of clinically relevant studies of basic mechanisms of disease.

Kleinman is a first year resident at UK where he completed a retinal research fellowship with Ambati. His current research interests are focused on defining the molecular interface of angiogenic mediators and the biologic spectrum of immune-related inflammation.

Albuquerque and Kleinman presented at the AUPO/RPB annual meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. on January 30.

 

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