ORLANDO, FL – SUNY Optometry associate clinical professor Dr. Alexandra Benavente-Perez has received the 2019 Career Development Award from the American Academy of Optometry. The Academy will provide a maximum of $50,000 in direct costs per year for up to two years, potentially renewable once for a total of up to four years of funding. The College will provide matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 per year for each year of funding.
Dr. Benavente-Perez was selected from a pool of applicants by an Academy committee based on her potential for growth and future major extramural funding. The funding will help support her research focused on developing a novel experimental model of progressive myopia to study the early retinal changes associated with high myopia.
The Career Development Award is designed for optometric educators and/or scientists involved in vision research as long as the case can be made for the potential to acquire future extramural funding. Preference is for innovative, original, independent, principal investigator driven projects.
The mean age of first time National Institutes of Health grantees is more than 40 years of age. The Academy launched the Career Development Award in an effort to positively influence and reduce the age at which early stage optometric researchers attain large scale federal support.
“I am very grateful to the American Academy of Optometry, its research committee and the board of directors for this award. As a clinician-scientist trained under the mentorship of leading research experts in clinical and experimental myopia, I want to contribute to the development of preventive and therapeutic treatment strategies for myopic degeneration, known to be a significant public health concern,” Dr. Benavente-Perez said in a statement. “I speculate that there are several early retinal changes that are tipping-points for the development of the sight-threatening myopic retinal changes. In collaboration with Drs. Suresh Viswanathan, Scott Read and Miduturu Srinivas, I will develop a novel model of progressive myopia and describe its associated anatomical and functional changes to potentially offer new avenues for effective early interventions.”
Dr. Benavente-Perez received the ZEISS Young Investigator Award in Myopia Research in 2017. The award recognizes young researchers for distinguished contributions to the field of myopia research, including visual psychophysics, physiological and biomedical optics and research efforts to overcome limitations of vision.