Baylor Biology Researcher Receives Grant From Knights Templar Eye Foundation
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Dr. Sang-Chul Nam, assistant professor of biology at Baylor University, has received a $40,000 grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to study Leber congenital amaurosis, an inherited eye disease that appears at birth or in the first few months of life. It affects around 80,000 people in the United States.
The Knights Templar presented Nam with a check during an Oct. 13 ceremony at the Baylor Sciences Building. Participants in the ceremony included Nam, Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research at Baylor, and Jerral Knox, a representative from the Knights Templar.
"We are very happy to provide Dr. Nam with this grant," Knox said. "There are a lot of places in the eye that we are concerned about and with research like this, we can develop treatments and possibly cures. That is what makes this research so special."
The money will fund Nam's research into how gene mutations factor into Leber congenital amaurosis. Mutations in the human Crumbs gene cause several different eye diseases with mild mutations causing late-onset eye degeneration while severe mutations cause early-onset eye disease.
Scientists have discovered that human Crumbs share common functions in eye development. Nam and his team will study the Crumbs gene in the common fruit fly to find out if the Spastin gene is one of the genes which affect the Crumbs location in the eye. The grant will fund a study that will allow Nam to examine the role of the spastin gene for the Crumbs localization and photoreceptor morphogenesis.
"Since mutations in the human Crumbs gene cause retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa 12 and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), analysis of spastin in the Crumbs targeting will provide important clues to understanding the eye diseases caused by the Crumbs mutations," Nam said. "Spastin is essential for apical Crumbs domain along the rhabdomere elongation in Drosophila photoreceptor."
About the Knights Templar
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c3) charity, sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, was founded in 1956 for the purpose of providing service for the prevention of blindness.
The Foundation is funded by donations from the members known as Knights Templar, a part of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Members and non-member friends make tax-deductible donations to either general or endowment funds. Many members, as well as non-members, leave bequests as part of their estates supporting the Knights Templar Eye Foundation in the preservation of sight.