Monday, May 15, 2017

Steffani Fitzpatrick Awarded National Eye Institute Travel Grant

Steffani Fitzpatrick, a basic medical science student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was awarded a National Eye Institute travel grant from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

The grant was used to assist with travel funds to this year’s 2017 ARVO annual meeting in Baltimore, Md. Travel grants are awarded to investigators who have an accepted abstract with a high score for the ARVO annual meeting and whose research findings are considered to be of high interest to the vision and ophthalmology research community.

Fitzpatrick said her research focuses on understanding the early immune response to herpes simplex virus one (HSV-1) in the eye. Dr. Robert Barrington, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the USA College of Medicine, is her primary mentor. Her research is a continuation of more than 30 years of eye research led by Dr. Robert Lausch, former professor of microbiology and immunology at the USA College of Medicine.

“Our goal is to better understand how the body responds to HSV-1 during an eye infection so we can identify possible vaccine targets,” Fitzpatrick said. “This project is important because HSV-1 is the leading cause of infectious blindness in developed countries.”

According to Fitzpatrick, current treatment options are limited to a few anti-viral medications that limit the spread of the virus, but there are no vaccines available to eliminate the virus.

The ARVO Annual Meeting provides a unique opportunity for trainees and early career investigators to discuss their research with leaders in their fields and receive encouragement to continue their work. The meeting is the largest gathering of eye and vision researchers in the world, attracting more than 11,000 attendees from more than 75 countries. Learn more here

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