BMM post-doctoral researcher receives Knights Templar Grant

BMM post-doctoral researcher receives Knights Templar Grant

Emily Sechrest, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher from the lab of Wen Tao Deng, Ph.D., in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, received a Pediatric Ophthalmology Career-Starter Research Grant from Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

The award is a one-year grant in the amount of $90,000 with the opportunity to renew for an additional year. The title of her award is, “Disease mechanism of blue cone monochromacy and gene therapy approaches to extend the therapeutic window.”

“Emily is a person anyone can rely on for help. She trained all the new people in my lab and is passionate about science and eager to get things done. She is also a valuable member of the WVU community by serving on the Ph.D. Admission Committee,” Deng said.

“I am honored to be a recipient of a 2023 Pediatric Ophthalmology Career-Starter Research Grant from Knights Templar Eye Foundation,” Sechrest said. “This award not only aids in fueling my research career but also gives me the incredible opportunity to fund important research that will allow us to identify new targets and advance our therapeutic approach in treating a devastating vision disorder.”

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation has been involved in many philanthropy and grant efforts that work to lessen visual diseases since the 1950s. The mission of the foundation is to improve vision through research, education and supporting needed access to care. Sechrest’s grant will allow her to perform research that identifies molecular differences between young and aged cone photoreceptors affected by blue cone monochromacy (BCM), giving rise to the development of new treatment strategies that extend the therapeutic window for patients with BCM.

Sechrest said, “BCM results in loss of functional L- and M-cones that are responsible for mediating high acuity, color vision from birth. Therefore, beginning at infancy, patients with BCM experience loss of visual acuity, impaired color discrimination, photophobia, nystagmus, and often, myopia. Unfortunately, while several innovative tools – including magenta or brown filtered glasses – have been designed to help BCM patients better navigate their day-to-day lives, no treatments are currently established.”