University of Utah President Ruth Watkins has appointed two John A. Moran Eye Center researchers to endowed professorships.
Alessandra Angelucci, MD, PhD, now holds the Mary H. Boesche Endowed Professorship in Ophthalmology, while David Krizaj, PhD, is the John Frederick Carter Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology.
Boesche established the professorship in honor of friends Maureen K. Lundergan, MD, and Mano Swartz, MD, and to support eye disease research. A Utah native, Boesche, graduated from Logan High School in 1934 and continued her education at Utah State Agricultural College in Logan and then at the LDS Business College in Salt Lake. In 1940, Boesche moved to Washington, D.C., where her career included more than two decades as the director of public relations for Dulles International Airport.
Angelucci's research focuses on visual cortex circuitry and function key knowledge in understanding exactly how vision occurs in the brain and how it might be reproduced using a prosthesis.
A National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative grantee, Angelucci is developing a new device that will support unprecedented investigations of neural function. The Utah Optrode Array will use optogenetics to selectively activate neurons using light rather than electricity. This new array will allow brain researchers to activate neurons more precisely.
George William and Beatrice Brain Carter established the Carter professorship in memory of their son, who passed away at age 9. George Carter, a University of Utah graduate, taught mechanical engineering at the school for 13 years and was a member of the Health Sciences Council. He was involved in the beginning of the missile and space age, working for Aerospace Co. in California.
Krizaj's research is uncovering how cells in the eye sense and interpret mechanical signals such as pressure. Normal pressure in the healthy eye maintains its shape and supports visual function; high pressure associated with debilitating diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
Krizaj recently developed a new therapy that lowers eye pressure while protecting retinal neurons from mechanical stress. Ready for clinical trials, this therapy offers a new approach to treat glaucoma.
"Dr. Angelucci and Dr. Krizaj are truly remarkable researchers, and their work is essential to develop new treatments for blinding diseases," said Moran CEO Randall J Olson, MD. "We are deeply appreciative of both the Brady and Carter families for their generosity and foresight in establishing these professorships."