David Troilo, PhD.

NEW YORK—SUNY College of Optometry announced that its professor and vice president and dean for academy affairs David Troilo, PhD, was awarded a $2.34 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) for his research examining the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling eye growth and the development of myopia (nearsightedness). Through this grant, investigators hope to provide deeper insight into the causes and development of myopia in children that may form the basis for new and more effective treatments.

The research is conducted as a collaboration between two researchers—Dr. Trolio and Dr. Roska—and their teams. Dr. Troilo is one of the original developers of the experimental paradigms being used to develop myopic and hyperopic eyes with over 30 years of experience. Botond Roska, MD, is the co-director at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB) in Switzerland and an internationally recognized leader in vision and vision restoration research using genetic and molecular techniques to study cell specific function in inherited retinal disease.

Despite the development of several evidence-based treatments to manage myopia progression in recent years, the prevalence and complication rates continue to rise, and treatment has not yet proven to be fully effective. Very little is known about the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that surround myopia development and Dr. Troilo’s and Dr. Roska’s research is an effort to uncover these mechanisms.

Their investigation meets three of the NEI objectives under myopia research: investigating the biochemical pathways that regulate eye growth; identifying genes that contribute to the development of refractive errors; and developing new technologies for assessing or treating refractive errors.

In a statement, SUNY Optometry said, “We are all very excited about this research project and securing the funding from NEI to make it happen. It will help better understand the mechanisms of visually-regulated eye growth and specifically what happens in the eye that makes them elongate and develop myopia.

"This is a large and highly collaborative project that involves talented teams of researchers led by Alexandra Benavente and Stefanie Wohl in New York and Tiago Rodrigues and Cameron Cowan in Switzerland. Their experience and expertise, and the great resources at IOB are the keys to the success of this project.”

This marks the second significant NEI grant SUNY College of Optometry received in 2022 for vision research. The previous grant was awarded to Stefanie Wohl, PhD, in March 2022, as reported by VMAIL. SUNY Optometry remains among the leading three schools and colleges of optometry receiving vision research funding.