Knights Templar Eye Foundation Awards Dr. Peter Quinn a Career-Starter Research Grant

New York, NY (July 31, 2020)Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) Department of Ophthalmology has announced that research scientist Peter M.J. Quinn, Ph.D. has been awarded a Pediatric Ophthalmology Career-Starter Research Grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc.

The award is a one-year grant for $69,840 that will fund Dr. Quinn’s research to better understand the stem cells of patients affected by Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), disabling retinal diseases that lead to visual impairment from birth and early childhood. This work is crucial to discover targets for therapeutics intervention or co-therapeutic strategies that may be used alongside conventional regenerative medicine approaches to significantly slow or halt disease progression. Dr. Quinn’s project will be conducted at Jonas Children’s Vision Care laboratory of Stephen H. Tsang, M.D., Ph.D., László Bitó Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology & Cell Biology, CSCI.

Dr. Quinn has worked with stem cells and therapeutics for several years from the time he was a Research Associate at Epistem Ltd in Manchester and his Masters in Molecular Medicine at Brunel University. Since then, Dr. Quinn’s focus has been on understanding the pathobiology of inherited retinal dystrophies and therapies towards their amelioration. In August 2019, he relocated to the U.S. as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tsang’s lab. “My own experience as a mentor allows me to assess the potential of scientists at multiple levels of their career; in my view, Dr. Quinn is remarkably gifted”, said Dr. Tsang. Both Drs. Tsang and Irene H. Maumenee, Professor of Ophthalmology at CUIMC, have mentored Dr. Quinn during stem cell studies at Jonas Children’s Vision Care. 

Dr. Quinn has distinguished himself among the very best junior scientists. He was recently awarded the B. Dobli Srinivasan Award during the John T. Flynn Annual Resident/Fellow Research and Graduation Day for his presentation entitled “Modeling and Rescue of CRB1 LCA Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Derived Retinal Organoids”. He was also awarded a three-year grant in January from the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation (CRBF) for “CRISPR Therapeutic Strategies for the Amelioration of CRB1 Retinal Dystrophies ”.

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF), incorporated in 1956, is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The foundation’s mission is to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care. Since its inception, KTEF has expended over $156 million on research, patient care, and education, including more than $28 million specifically dedicated to research in the fields of pediatric ophthalmology and ophthalmic genetics. This Pediatric Ophthalmology Career-Starter Research Grant is one of the many ways that KTEF supports research and help launch the careers of clinical and basic researchers focused on the prevention and cure of potentially blinding diseases in infants and children. 

The Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute Department of Ophthalmology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center offers one of the world’s most advanced and renowned programs in comprehensive ophthalmic care, teaching and research. Since its founding in 1933, the department has maintained a leadership position in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders causing vision loss and blindness.

The Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute is a leading international center for diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye, with priority emphasis on the basic science and translational research necessary to uncover the cause of these diseases and to develop new, vision-saving treatments. Our innovative research has netted landmark breakthroughs in virtually every area of ophthalmic science, including first therapies for retinoblastoma, pioneering laser therapies toward the first treatments in 1961, genetics research of retinal dystrophies and degenerations, development of the first prostaglandin analogue for the treatment of glaucoma, and the introductory use of perfluorocarbons in retinal surgery. Our proud tradition of innovative, translational science with a focus on patient care continues to this day.