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Glaucoma Research Foundation launches Catalyst for a Cure initiative to prevent and cure neurodegeneration

Groundbreaking collaborative research program will explore common features of glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, has launched the fourth phase of its flagship collaborative research program, Catalyst for a Cure.

The Catalyst for a Cure Initiative to prevent and cure neurodegeneration will study the common features of diseases that occur when key cells in the central nervous system – eye, brain, spinal cord – deteriorate and die, leading to loss of function. Neurodegenerative diseases include glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Neurodegeneration Initiative was launched through a transformation project $2.4 million gift to GRF from the Melza M. and Frank Theodore Barr Foundation. Philanthropist and former GRF board member Frank Theodore (Ted) Barr and his wife Melza have supported GRF for 40 years.

“We’ve been thinking about the challenge of neurodegeneration since the first Catalyst for a Cure initiative identified it as a factor in glaucoma, in 2006,” says Barr. “We thought it was time to understand neurodegeneration in a fundamental way and develop solutions based on that knowledge.”

Barrs’ donation will allow four talented investigators from various fields of expertise to collaborate for an initial period of three years. The members of the consortium are:

Sandro Da Mesquitadoctorate
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosciences
Lymphatic Meningeal and Neurological Disorders Laboratory, Mayo Clinic

Milica MargetaMD, PhD
Physician and Surgeon, Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

Karthik Shekhar
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
faculty scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Member, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California, Berkeley

Humsa Venkatesh
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience Program
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

With the Neurodegeneration Initiative underway, GRF is now funding two Catalyst for a cure consortia that could change the lives of people with glaucoma. Ongoing since 2019, the Catalyst for a cure Vision Restoration Initiative has made tremendous advances that could soon lead to the ability to protect, preserve and even regenerate retinal ganglion cells – components of the optic nerve that degenerate and die with glaucoma, causing blindness.

About the Glaucoma Research Foundation

Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma. To learn more, visit


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SOURCE Glaucoma Research Foundation