DEARBORN - JDRF and the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School have announced that Dr. Tom Gardner has been named as the first Healthy Eyes Taubman Scholar.
Gardner will receive funding of $150,000 per year for three years from the Taubman Institute’s endowment and JDRF. JDRF’s grant to Dr. Gardner is supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund as part of JDRF’s Healthy Eyes Project, an initiative focused on diabetic eye disease to ensure that the substantial progress in retinopathy science is translated into treatments for people with diabetes.
"This research offers promise longer term for those facing or living with blindness caused by diabetes," says Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "This investment is made possible by the thousands of Ford employees around the world who together with Ford Motor Company have raised tens of millions to support JDRF and diabetes research."
Ford Motor Company has been involved with JDRF since 1983 and is the organization's largest global sponsor. In 2011, more than $3 million was raised by 42 Ford Global Walk Team sites to fund critical JDRF research.
Dr. Gardner is Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center. He also is director of the JDRF Diabetic Retinopathy Center, and will use the grant to continue his pioneering approach to diagnosing and treating the deterioration of the retina in diabetes patients. He will study novel treatments and biomarkers for diabetic retinopathy, the most common and most serious eye-related complication of diabetes.
“I’m thrilled and honored,” said Gardner. “We hope to not only understand what causes retinopathy and how to prevent it, but perhaps even to restore the vision in patients who have lost it."
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness among adults aged 20 to 74 years in the United States.
“This exciting collaboration is making it possible for us to accept yet another eminent researcher into the program,” said Dr. Eva Feldman, director, Taubman Institute. “We’re proud of our relationship with JDRF and delighted to welcome Dr. Gardner and his colleagues to our pool of scientists who are working on cutting-edge cures and treatment."