Research to Prevent Blindness Funds Student Participation in Major Research

New York, NY (June 10, 2016) - Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Ophthalmology has been granted a $30,000 RPB Medical Student Eye Research Fellowship by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) which will enable Jesse D. Sengillo to take a year off from medical school and devote the time to the pursuit of a research project within the Department.

“Research - and its funding - is at the core of this institution,” said Department Chair, George “Jack” Cioffi, MD, the Jean and Richard Deems Professor; Edward S. Harkness Professor and Chairman Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “So, we are pleased to announce this award and look forward to Mr. Sengillo’s continued contribution to the tremendous body of work originating from the Tsang lab.”

Sengillo – along with Joaqui Tosi, Javier Sancho-Pelluz, Richard J. Davis, Chun Wei Hsu, Kyle V. Wolpert, Chyuan-Sheng Lin and Stephen H. Tsang – is already credited with work cited in a paper published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine: “Lentivirus-mediated expression of cDNA and shRNA slow degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa.” Tsang, MD, PhD, an internationally recognized clinician and geneticist specializing in the treatment of retinal disorders, is the Laszlo T. Bito Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and an Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology. The funding announced will enable Sengillo to continue in the Tsang Lab, working on Retinitis pigmentosa mutations.

“Jesse will test whether degenerative photoreceptors have non-cell-autonomous toxic and or neurotropic effects on nearby rescued rods,” Tsang said. “Non-autonomous cell death is a challenge to gene therapy as it may then require more rescue than just a single therapeutic gene.”

RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding diseases. For more information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.