UAB Optometry student receives award to study how ocular biomarkers may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease

Swetha Ravichandran is focused on exploring novel ocular biomarkers that could help in the diagnosis of preclinical neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Written by: Nathan Anderson
Media contact: Anna Jones

1204987369837353.nVw2zBdcRPuHNpwky1q3 height640Swetha Ravichandran, a Vision Science Graduate Program student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, has been awarded a two-year fellowship by the Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama Lindy Harrell Predoctoral Scholar Program. The $50,000 award is for predoctoral students studying basic and translational approaches to Alzheimer’s disease.

Ravichandran, who is involved with Alzheimer’s disease research, says more can be done to help neurodegeneration, especially as society experiences increased life expectancy. The emphasis the program places on Alzheimer’s disease will enable students to take leading roles in therapeutic discovery across the spectrum of different skill sets and enterprises.

“Having watched my grandfather battle Alzheimer’s disease further stirred my longing to tread toward this journey,” Ravichandran said. “As a doctoral student, I am now focused on exploring novel ocular biomarkers that could help in the diagnosis of preclinical neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease in my lab. Further, I wish to address major gaps in the field of ocular diagnostics and biomarkers to help the society through the application of my research findings.”

Prior to being accepted into the VSGP, Ravichandran completed her bachelor’s degree in optometry from the Elite School of Optometry. She completed her master’s degree in optometry from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India. Ravichandran decided to earn her doctorate in vision science due to her fascination with the human eye.

“For us to comprehend the eyes, there is a need for greater clarity on its pathophysiology despite decades of exploration,” Ravichandran said. “That is why I decided to pursue research and earn my doctorate in vision science to make significant contributions to the advancement of vision care and treatment.” 

After completing her doctorate, Ravichandran plans to pursue a career in education using her knowledge on evidence-based practice to train and enhance the next generation of optometrists.

“I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed on receiving this award,” Ravichandran said. “I am honored and grateful for the opportunities UAB has provided me, and I am thankful for the acknowledgment of my efforts. I would like to thank my supervisor and mentor Dr. Edmund Arthur for his constant support, guidance and encouragement without whom this would have been impossible.”