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Moran Eye Center Scientist Receives Grant to Study Health Care Disparities

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD
Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD

John A. Moran Eye Center scientist Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, is one of four vision scientists nationwide selected to receive the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Award for IRIS® Registry Research.

The award supports the use of the registry—the nation’s first and largest comprehensive eye disease clinical registry—to conduct population-based studies in ophthalmology and blindness prevention.

The Academy and RPB began the grant partnership in 2018 to improve patients’ lives through research and innovation. The awardees get access to the IRIS Registry and specialized training on how to conduct big data research. Having amassed data on 75 million patients, the IRIS Registry is an invaluable resource for researchers looking to uncover better approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases in people across races, ethnicities, and ages.

Hartnett will use IRIS Registry data to determine if women in the United States bear a greater burden of blindness and vision loss, as well as other potential disparities in visual impairment. Big data will allow the study of differences in age-adjusted blindness and/or vision loss in children and adults based on gender and ophthalmology disease categories in a way that has not been studied before. Dr. Hartnett notes that identifying health care disparities is the first step in addressing them.

Each grant, worth $35,000, provides recipients with a subset of the massive IRIS Registry database for analysis based on their specific area of focus. Researchers also receive training from Academy staff on how to use the IRIS Registry’s analytic capabilities, as well as $10,000 in direct research funds. The results of each awardee’s research will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication within six months of study completion.

Read more about the grants here.