Raising Awareness and Funds to Support Research and Programs at the Kellogg Eye Center

MHBB 2017: MARCH 16 & 17, 2017


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Event Description

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This Year's Research Program



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This Year's Donations:
Congenital Eye Disease Research

Every year, the proceeds from March Hoops To BEAT Blindness are dedicated to a specific research program at the Kellogg Eye Center. The program is chosen for its innovative approach and focus on treating and finding cures to blinding conditions.

This year, funds from March Hoops to BEAT Blindness 2016 will go to support the research of Dr. Brenda Bohnsack, M.D., PhD. and her work to investigate genetic causes of congenital eye diseases.

What are Congenital Eye Diseases?

Congenital Eye Diseases are conditions that are present at birth. They can severely affect vision and sometimes lead to complete blindness. Examples are glaucoma, cataracts, coloboma (when the optic fissure does not close), anophthalmia (not having an eye), aniridia (having a partial or absent iris), microphthalmia (having a small eye), and optic nerve hypoplasia (having an optic nerve that is not developed correctly) to name a few.

How Will This BEAT Blindness? 

Dr. Bohnsack is working to identify the genes involved in eye development and understand the normal, and abnormal, developmental paths. As these genes are identified, and their impact on eye formation is better understood, treatments to cure and prevent worsening conditions can be found. Babies with congenital eye diseases, and their parents and families, face very difficult physical and emotional circumstances. Dr. Bohnsack's research will give them reason for hope and relief.

More time and study is needed! Your donation to MHBB 2016 will suport this important line of study at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

Brendan visiting Dr. Bohnsack in her lab full of zebrafish!

What is the Research Program?

Dr. Bohnsack's research is following multiple approaches:

(1) Studying eye development in zebrafish to understand what genes are doing during eye formation, she studies genes that are associated with congenital diseases. Zebrafish are particularly helpful in this research, as the embryos grow outside of the mother's body and their eyes form quickly over a 3-day period. Embryos can be watched in real-time to see how these genes affect eye development and growth.

(2) Using information from families and parents of children with congenital eye diseases, Dr. Bohnsack is looking at environmental factors (such as exposure to alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc) which may alter normal eye development. Gathering this information will help assess the impact of these factors and hopefully lead to earlier detection and possible treatments.

(3) Studying human stem cells Dr. Bohnsack is investigating how certain genes cause congenital eye diseases. Stem cells derived from families affected with congenital eye diseases give important insight into eye development and help us develop treatments for these blinding conditions.

Where Could This Research Lead?

When we understand the steps of the eye development, we can investigate ways to reverse it and potentially correct the development defect. We can also research ways to prevent or even cure these conditions.

How Will MHBB Help?

Dr. Bohnsack is in the process of applying for grants and identifying research programs. MHBB funds can be used for the underlying research needed as a foundation to these efforts, and to gather preliminary data and testing for specific diseases to pursue. This data can also be used to consider the part the genes play in maintenance of the adult eye as well, and the causes of degenerating adult onset diseases.