“A University of Tennessee Health Science Center professor has received a $1 million grant to study diabetic retinopathy.
Rajashekhar Gangaraju, an assistant professor in the Hamilton Eye Institute, has long been interested in the causes and effects of diabetic retinopathy — his father and grandfather suffered from diabetes and resulting vision loss. His research has resulted in him being awarded more than $1 million from the National Eye Institute, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health.
Gangaraju came to UTHSC in 2014 from the Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he was originally awarded the grant, which was transferred along with him.
Preliminary research in Gangaraju’s laboratory shows that stem cells isolated from fat cells can regenerate and repair the damaged cells in the eye and improve vision. His research could also be applied to other vascular diseases, resulting in novel treatments for those conditions.
With the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. and around the world, vision loss from diabetes continues to rise. Vision-threatening retinopathy will affect 40 percent of diabetes patients, that percentage will increase as the population ages and more adults and children are diagnosed. Nearly 19 million Americans have diabetes, and another 7 million are undiagnosed. Roughly 80 million are categorized as pre-diabetic or at risk of developing the disease.
University of Tennessee Health Science Center researcher receives $1 million grant from the National Insitutes of Health – Memphis Business Journal.