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RPB Grant

Research to Prevent Blindness Announces New Sight-Saving Vision Research Grants

The research awards, given in partnership with the Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative and in honor of RPB Trustee Tom Wertheimer, will focus, respectively, on the cutting-edge areas of retinal research for Diabetic Eye Disease and data science for eye disease research.

NEW YORK – April 24, 2023 – Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is pleased to announce two new grants to support high-impact vision research as part of its fall grants portfolio, which is now accepting applications and will fund more than $5 million in grants for individual researchers as well as high-performing departments of ophthalmology. The new grants are the: RPB / Tom Wertheimer Career Development Award in Data Science and RPB / Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative Physician-Scientist Award.

RPB has two grant cycles a year (spring and fall) and provides about $10 million in grant funding annually to support sight-saving research into eye diseases and conditions that affect vision. Awards for the current grant cycle will be made in December 2023.

“RPB is very strategic in its application of research funding, so I am thrilled to announce two new individual research awards in the key areas of data science and retinal research related to Diabetic Retinal Disease,” said Brian F. Hofland, PhD, President of Research to Prevent Blindness. “Furthermore, we’re so proud to provide these awards with excellent partners. Two generous donors each gave gifts to create the award honoring RPB Trustee Tom Wertheimer, a long-standing, valued member of the RPB Board of Trustees. The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative is a nonprofit led by the late Ms. Moore’s husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, who is wholeheartedly committed to ending vision loss associated with diabetes through groundbreaking science.”

Details about each award are available below:

RPB / Tom Wertheimer Career Development Award in Data Science

This award focuses on vision research that uses artificial intelligence and/or data science to gain new knowledge related to sight-threatening conditions. This Career Development Award (CDA) builds on the success of the RPB CDA program, which supports early-career researchers in making critical discoveries prior to their first major research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

This $350,000 research award, provided over 4 years, allows for extraordinarily talented early-career vision researchers to launch their careers as independent investigators, with the support of a mentorship team. By creating a CDA in Data Science, RPB recognizes the importance of data science to the future of vision research, and medical research at large, and will provide much-needed support in the form of this prestigious award.

An assessment of RPB’s CDA program several years ago indicated that of the approximately $40 million RPB had invested into this program over 30 years, CDA grantees had gone on to garner more than $1 billion in follow-on research grant funding, a 25:1 return on investment.

RPB / Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative Physician-Scientist Award

This award is part of RPB’s long-standing Physician-Scientist Award program that promotes the clinical and/or basic science research of clinicians, who bring a critical commitment to patient care to their research activities.

In partnership with the Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative, this new $300,000 research award will focus on retinal research with an emphasis on expanding relevant knowledge and developing methods to preserve and restore visual function in diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and diabetic retinal neurodegeneration known as Diabetic Retinal Disease, or DRD).

“I am excited to be partnering with Research to Prevent Blindness to support an outstanding physician-scientist who can help advance our understanding of Diabetic Retinal Disease, including at the molecular, cellular, and functional levels. This terrible disease stole joy and independence from my wife, Mary, and I have made it my life’s mission to end the devastation and suffering it causes in the lives of millions around the world. I am deeply grateful to RPB for their leadership in vision research and for working with me to achieve shared goals,” said Robert Levine, MD, Chairman, Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative.

In addition to the two new grants described above, RPB funds grants into research across all sight-threatening conditions, including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, amblyopia, low vision, and many more. A full list of current research grants is available on the RPB website (, including eligibility criteria and application guidelines.


Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is the leading nonprofit organization supporting eye research directed at the prevention, treatment or eradication of all diseases that damage and destroy sight. As part of this purview, RPB also supports efforts to grow and sustain a robust and diverse vision research community. Since it was founded in 1960 by Dr. Jules Stein, RPB has awarded more than $403 million in research grants. As a result, RPB has been associated with nearly every major breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of vision loss in the past 63 years. Learn more at