The university’s Eye Research Institute launched the Virginia and Clarence Clohset Pediatric Retinal Research Laboratory (PERRL) in 2011, which is believed to be the only laboratory in the country devoted solely to pediatric retinal research.
The renovated lab in Dodge Hall is under the leadership of Dr. Michael Trese of the Beaumont Hospitals, who is a clinical professor of biomedical sciences with the institute. Additional ERI faculty members working with the laboratory include Dr. Kimberly Drenser and Dr. Anthony Capone.
Approximately $480,000 in funding for the laboratory was donated by the Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD)Foundation, which is striving to eliminate blindness and low vision in children from premature birth and retinal disease.
“We’re going to be searching for new treatments for pediatric eye disease,” says Professor Frank Giblin, institute director. “There’s not much in the way of treatment now.”
ROPARD made its contribution through support from two donor families — the Clohsets and the Bergquist families — along with a number of individual donors.
The institute’s co-founder and first director, Dr. V. Everett Kinsey, earned recognition for his research in retinopathy of prematurity.
“So the laboratory is following a nice tradition from 42 years ago,” Giblin says.
Trese plans to work with the OU-INCubator, which provides entrepreneurial resources and strategic business solutions, as the laboratory develops new drug treatments.
The laboratory will be available to all institute faculty members and also will provide new learning opportunities for students who participate in the institute’s Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research.
“These students will also be able to conduct research at this laboratory,” Giblin says.
Eventually, Giblin says, he plans to seek additional funding for the laboratory from foundations and the National Eye Institute.
He believes the laboratory has the potential to generate further revenue by testing ocular drugs for retinal toxicity.
Professor Frank Giblin, Director