downs webThree researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham are working to transform the treatment landscape for patients living with glaucoma.

J. Crawford Downs, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Joanne E. Murphy-Ullrich, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Yong Zhou, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine received a multi-PI R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with an aim to understand the mechanisms underlying the morphological changes in the optic nerve head in glaucoma.  

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world, and results from damage to the eye’s optic nerve as it exits the eye. In glaucoma, the optic nerve head undergoes characteristic morphological changes, and studying these changes could lead to potential groundbreaking discoveries and treatments. Downs, Murphy-Ullrich, and Zhou hypothesize that these morphological changes are caused by the biomechanical strain that affects both the tissue and the cells, and their R01 grant aims to understand how intraocular pressure and strain affect the cells of the optic nerve head, with a hope of identifyingthe biomechanical factors that contribute to glaucoma.