UO postdoc awarded $60,000 Knights Templar Career-Starter Grant

Wayne Tschetter is examining the development of neural circuits connecting the eye to the brain.

Cris Niell, Wayne Tschette and John Ridenour at award ceremonyEUGENE, Ore. — (June 26, 2014) — Wayne Tschetter, a postdoctoral research associate in the University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience, has received a Pediatric Ophthalmology Career-Starter Research Grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc.

The $60,000 award will be used for Tschetter's project "Development of Neural Circuits Connecting the Eye to the Brain."

Tschetter, a researcher in the lab of biology professor Cris Niell, is examining how neurons in the visual system form connections during development to establish proper visual function and how that process is disrupted by pediatric eye disease. At the outset, Tschetter will investigate the process of receptive field development by carefully examining how neurons near the retina mature during a specific period of development.
"This novel research will provide an important foundation for understanding how visual neurons acquire their functional properties as they receive inputs from other neurons," Tschetter wrote in a summary of his research. "Furthermore, this research will help define the mechanisms of impaired eyesight in pediatric eye diseases, which will aid in the understanding of pediatric ophthalmic disorders and potentially improve the application and success of future therapeutic interventions."

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation Career-Starter Research Grant program supports research by early career clinical or basic researchers on conditions that can be treated or prevented. Tschetter's award is the first for a UO researcher and the 10th to be given to scientists in Oregon since the foundation was formed in 1956.

Oregon researchers have received $351,6111 in awards — a figure that does not include the amount awarded to treat individuals in need, said John Ridenour, grand commander of the grand commandery of Knights Templar of Oregon.

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation provides assistance to people who need eye treatment and also supports research on pediatric ophthalmology. In the past, much of the organization's focus was on individual treatment, but in recent years the primary focus has shifted to grants for research, Ridenour said.

In presenting the award to Tschetter, Ridenour noted the importance of pediatric ophthalmology research and said that Tschetter's work could be a building block for advancing the understanding of eye diseases in early life.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

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