Colour
C C C C C
Text
T T
Skip To Content
Nov 14, 2018

From Identifying Gene Mutations to Developing New Treatments for Inherited Retinal Diseases

Clinician-Scientist Emerging Leader Award: Dr. Matthew Benson

Dr. Matthew Benson knows that improving our understanding of why blinding eye diseases happen will lay foundations for developing effective new treatments. He is particularly motivated to develop therapies for the many patients he cares for who currently have no treatment options.

Indeed, Dr. Benson is so inspired by the potential for research to fuel the creation of new treatments that he is taking time away from his busy clinical training schedule to focus intensively on research. His current project is focused on the disease mechanisms for a genetic condition that leads to significant vision and hearing loss—specifically, he is exploring how mutations in the PEX6 gene impact the structure and function of an important part of the cell called the “peroxisome.” Recent studies have shown that the drug chloroquine can improve peroxisome function, and Dr. Benson will test chloroquine as a potential sight-saving treatment for patients who have a PEX6 mutation.

At Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC), we are very proud to announce that Dr. Benson’s project will be funded by our Clinician-Scientist Emerging Leader Program! This funding program is incredibly important to FBC’s mission because clinician-scientists bring a unique perspective to research that draws on their interactions with patients. Moreover, we know that building a strong community of clinician-scientists will create a framework to support more innovative clinical trials in Canada!

Dr. Benson is grateful to have the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of Dr. MacDonald, who conducted Canada’s first ocular gene therapy trial at the University of Alberta. “Dr. MacDonald’s research in ocular genetics provides a unique opportunity to incorporate basic science aspects of ophthalmology into a busy clinical and surgical practice,” explained Dr. Benson. “Dr. MacDonald’s devotion to improving patient outcomes solidified my decision to become a clinician-scientist.”

At a recent FBC event in Edmonton, Dr. MacDonald shared a story explaining how funding from FBC to support research early in his career enabled him to envision a career that incorporated both cutting-edge research and patient care. His comments reiterate how funding from FBC makes critically important vision research possible!

Thank you to BMO for providing the seed funding that enabled FBC to launch the Clinician-Scientist Emerging Leader Program in 2016. Thanks to continued support from BMO and to new support from Bayer, we were able to expand the award in 2018!

Dr. Benson will be joined by his CSEL awardee colleagues Dr. Brian Ballios (the 2017 CSEL recipient) and Dr. Jacob Rullo (2018 recipient). At FBC, we know that supporting emerging leaders in ophthalmology will build the essential expertise in Canada that is required to drive the development of new sight-saving treatments!

Latest FBC News View All

Collage of photos
Apr 25, 2019
From Foundation to Fighter

A Message from the President and CEO For 45 years, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has raised and directed critical funding into sight-saving research for blinding eye diseases. From our earliest days as…

Read More
Close-up image of someone filling out forms
May 15, 2019
Patient Study: LCA-10 And USH2

We are letting our community know about a patient experience study being conducted by Medicys Ltd., a medical research company that is looking for people with a confirmed diagnosis of Usher syndrome…

Read More
May 14, 2019
Upcoming Event: Dispelling Myths Surrounding the Vision Health of Older People

On May 28, 2019, Dr. Chad Andrews, Senior Manager of Research and Education at Fighting Blindness Canada, will be taking part in Dispelling Myths Surrounding the Vision of Older People, an interdisciplinary…

Read More

Join the Fight!

Learn how your support is helping to bring a future without blindness into focus! Be the first to learn about the latest breakthroughs in vision research and events in your community by subscribing to our eNews.

I have read and accepted the privacy policy