NEI Audacious Goal Initiative
The Audacious Goals Initiative is the first major expansion of the NEI’s strategic planning and prioritizing. The NEI selected one audacious goal and two high priority areas after more than a year of gathering ideas, planning, and discussing with many experts from all over the world. Basic and translational research will be supported in all three areas.
NEI’s Audacious Goal
High Priority Areas of Research
- Molecular Therapy for Eye Disease (Program Announcement PA-13-283)
- Intersection of Aging & Biological Mechanisms of Eye Disease (Program Announcement PA-13-332)
R24 Translational Research Program on Therapy for Vision Disorders
Translational Research Program Q&A with Program Director Neeraj Agarwal
Researchers See Gene-therapy Grant Improving Vision (The Gainesville Sun)
Small Business Grant Program Q&A with Program Director Jerry Wujek
(NEI) supports multidisciplinary research focusing on the development of novel therapies to treat visual diseases and disorders. The rapid and efficient translation of innovative laboratory research findings into clinical development frequently requires a comprehensive and highly integrated approach involving collaborative teams of scientists and clinicians with expertise in multiple disciplines. Such a collaborative approach is particularly appropriate for research focused on pathways that will likely be targeted by biological intervention, such as gene therapy, cell-based therapy, pharmacological approaches. The intention of this program is to make resources available to scientists from several disciplines to form research teams to address scientific and technical questions that would be beyond the capabilities of any one research group.
- NEW! R24 Translational Research Program Announcement released for a January 28, 2014 receipt date
Small Business Grants
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a grant program for companies to convert innovative ideas into ophthalmic drugs, medical devices or assistive technologies that help people.
- Applying for small business grants. The NEI participates fully in both the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs. Investigator-initiated applications are accepted in all areas of vision science through the NIH Omnibus Solicitations on the standard annual receipt dates of April 1, August 1, and December 1.
- Regulatory Assistance Program. Many of the companies are developing drugs or medical devices that require regulatory approval from FDA. This is a major hurdle for small companies, most of which do not have any experience navigating the FDA approval process. To improve the likelihood of success, NEI implemented a new regulatory assistance program for small business grantees.
Regenerative Medicine at NEI
Stem cells have the potential to differentiate into a variety of mature cell types and can be obtained from both fetal and adult tissues. Recently, intense interest has centered on induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are made by reprogramming mature cells, such as skin or blood cells, into a developmentally immature state. They can then be coaxed to mature into other cell types. The use of iPS cells provides a theoretically unlimited supply of human cells to study disease and test new therapies. A major goal of stem cell research is to generate transplantable cells and tissues for disease treatment.
Translational Research in the News
The Nanomedicine Initiative, funded by the NIH Common Fund and administered by NEI, supports collaborative research centers to understand how the biological machinery inside living cells is built and operates, and then use this information to re-engineer these structures, develop new technologies that could be applied to treating diseases, and/or leverage the new knowledge to focus work directly on translational studies to treat a disease or repair damaged tissue. One of these centers, the Nanomedicine Development Center for Optical Control of Biological Function, aims to treat the blinding disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP) by introducing synthetic light-sensitive molecules into retinal cells.