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Kazuko Nishikura PhD Professor at The Wistar Institute Philadelphia PA In one word what does the future look like for a cure Exciting What is the goal of your research A new model for AMD pathogenesis has re- cently emerged. Alu RNA is transcribed from retro- transposons reminiscent of ancient viruses that invaded and spread over the human genome. Recent studies indi- cate that Alu RNA accumulation triggers programmed cell death of retinal pigment epithelium RPE cells revealing a previ- ously unexplored abnormality that under- lies the molecular pathogenesis of AMD. Our research focus has been on a phe- nomenon called RNA editing which al- ters genetic information through action of ADAR proteins. My group identified the first ADAR gene family member ADAR1. Interestingly the most common ADAR1 target is the above-mentioned Alu RNA. In this research proposal we will explore our hypothesis that a reduction of ADAR1 levels plays a role in the pathogenesis of AMD. Our proposal addresses a truly innovative and previously untested hypothesis and the outcome of this re- search will initiate a major change in the conventional view on AMD mechanisms. In addition the outcome of this proposal may have a significant impact on the diagnosis and prevention of AMD. Rachael Pearson PhD Reader in Developmental Neuroscience and Royal Society University Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology London In one word what does the future look like for a cure Optimistic What is the goal of your research Photoreceptor transplan- tation is a promising strategy for reversing the loss of vision following retinal degeneration. We have previously shown that donor photoreceptor cells need to be at a particular stage of their development at the time that they are transplanted for the transplant to be successful. These cells can be considered as transplantation-competent cells. We are now developing stem cell-derived photoreceptors with colored reporters that are produced by the cell at specific points in its development. We expect that this will allow us to precisely define the beginning and the end of the period of transplanta- tion- competence and allow us to select 20 Macula Vision Research Foundation SpringSummer 2015 OUR 2014-2015 gRANT RECIPIENTS A CLOSER LOOK This year we awarded four new grants to scientists conducting groundbreaking research in the field. We asked our new grant recipients to answer a few questions about their work and the future of macular degeneration. Heres what they said