Caruth Foundation gives $2.5 million to study macular degeneration

Caruth Foundation gives $2.5 million to study macular degeneration

Jan 2015

The Retina Foundation of the Southwest is teaming up with Southern Methodist University’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering to create the Clinical Center of Innovation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

It’s being supported by a $2.5 million grant from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas.

The center will be housed at the Retina Foundation offices at 9600 N. Central Expressway in Dallas.

Dr. Karl Csaky, chief medical director and T. Boone Pickens senior scientist at the Retina Foundation, will lead the joint venture with the help of Dr. Marc Christensen, dean of the engineering school.

Age-related macular degeneration, a disease of the retina, is the most common cause of vision loss for people 50 years and older.

Eighteen million Americans have some form of age-related macular degeneration, and there are few effective treatments.

“I am extremely thankful to the Caruth Foundation for providing their generous support for a unique approach to help patients with age-related macular degeneration,” Csaky said. “This one-of-a-kind initiative will focus on leveraging the strengths of two pre-eminent Dallas institutions.”

Center officials say they want to move quickly on prototypes for new treatments, focusing on treatments that correlate to the specific needs of patients.

“This type of unique partnership between a top engineering school and a clinical research organization has the potential to be replicated in other areas of medicine as well,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. “This model of pairing disparate disciplines to tackle challenging medical issues is the transformational approach Will Caruth would have championed.”

The Lyle School of Engineering was founded in 1925. It offers eight undergraduate and 28 graduate programs, and it also boasts the Deason Innovation Gymnasium, 1,200 square feet of space, tools and computers dedicated to undergraduate design projects.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Retina Foundation doctors to help develop and prototype treatments tailored to patient needs,” Christensen said. “For example, we’ll be in a position to tackle problems such as the delivery of medication to the retina through polymer chemistry and mechanical engineering.

“Engineering and medicine can partner in astounding ways, and we are excited to see how our framework for fostering innovation accelerates solutions to medical challenges.”

The Retina Foundation of the Southwest was created in 1982 to study age-related macular degeneration. It’s one of only two independent, nonprofit eye research institutes in the country.

To learn more, visit retinafoundation.org or call to schedule a tour at 214-363-3911.

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