Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award Celebrates 30 years

Friday, May 10, 2019

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) celebrated the 30th anniversary of one of its flagship grant programs: the RPB Career Development Award (CDA) during a breakfast at the 2019 Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference. 

The CDAs were founded as one of the few private sources of funding aimed specifically at early-career vision researchers. What began in 1989 as a $120,000, 4-year grant has grown into a $300,000 award that grantees have called a critical “accelerant” for their work.

Duke Ophthalmology is proud to have one of the largest number of CDAs among our peer academic medical institutions.  

  • Alessandro Iannaccone, MD
  • Vasanatha Rao, PhD 
  • Dan Stamer, PhD
  • Daniel Saban, PhD (not pictured)
  • Catherine Bowes Rickman, PhD 
  • Xi Chen, MD, PhD

In total, 203 CDAs have been granted to date. CDA grantees are a diverse group of clinicians, researchers and clinician-scientists, which encompasses every field of vision research, from age-related diseases of the eye to regenerative medicine, visual neuroscience, genetics and gene therapy, infectious disease, ocular oncology and dozens of others.

Thanks to early RPB support, CDA awardees have gone on to make breakthrough discoveries, chair many of the top ophthalmology departments in the nation, serve as editors of leading ophthalmology research journals and lead some the field’s premier research organizations.

“The full list of CDAs reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in vision science,” says RPB President Brian F. Hofland, PhD. “It’s amazing to have supported the early work of scientists who have gone on to impact the field so deeply. It goes to show that our grant-making mechanism really works; our Scientific Advisory Panel is astute at picking ‘winners’ by recognizing scientific skill, research promise and the motivation to deliver on that promise.”  

Looking ahead to the future of the award program, RPB is planning to secure additional funding to expand the number of young researchers accepted into the CDA community. Each year, RPB’s Scientific Advisory Panel selects six CDA grantees from among the applicants. Providing that enough additional resources can be secured RPB aims to increase that number to eight in the years to come and hopes to raise the annual award amount from $75,000 to $100,000 (for a total of $400,000 per researcher over the course of the 4-year grant) for even greater impact.

This story was created using excerpts from the RPB Press Release “RPB Career Development Awards Deliver Billion Dollar Promise.”