NEI Grantee Receives $750,000 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Award

News Brief
03/19/08

Kang Zhang, M.D. Ph.D., an NEI grantee and a member of the eyeGENE committee, was recently awarded a prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research. The $750,000 award is for a five-year period beginning July 1, 2008. Dr. Zhang plans to use this award to identify new genes and treatments for diabetic retinopathy, one of the most common causes of legal blindness in working-age Americans. The award will allow Dr. Zhang to augment his ongoing NEI-sponsored research into the genomes of individuals who are genetically predisposed to developing common blinding eye diseases. The planned research is an example of cutting-edge basic science being heavily influenced by clinical observations and practices.

Dr. Zhang completed his ophthalmology residency at Johns Hopkins University’s Wilmer Eye Institute in 1999. He received his medical degree, with magna cum laude honors from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995 and his doctorate in genetics from Harvard in 1991. He is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and an investigator in the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Utah.

BWF’s Clinical Scientist Awards in Translational Research program supports established independent physician-scientists who are dedicated to translational research-the two-way transfer between work at the laboratory bench and patient care. BWF named 13 translational researchers in 2008.