Dr. Manoj Kulkarni has been awarded a KTEF career-starter research grant. Dr. Kulkarni is a member of Puthussery/Taylor lab at Berkeley Optometry, which studies retinal neuroscience. KTEF supports research that has the potential to launch careers of clinical or basic researchers committed to the understanding, prevention, and cure of vision-threatening diseases in infants and children. The grant that Dr. Kulkarni received will support his research on the mechanisms of inner retinal dysfunction during the progression of inherited retinal degeneration.
Dr. Kulkarni’s research will focus on inherited photoreceptor degenerations, which are a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in children. In addition to causing photoreceptor death, these conditions lead to abnormal electrical signals in ganglion cells, the neurons that send visual signals to the brain. This aberrant ganglion cell signaling may corrupt signals from surviving photoreceptors and limit the effectiveness of treatments to restore vision. Dr. Kulkarni will examine the neural basis of this aberrant signaling and test whether specific drugs can be used to block these signals in a mouse model system.
Knowledge gained from these studies could lead to improved therapies for children suffering from these inheritable blinding diseases.