Glick Eye Institute researcher receives grant funding

INDIANAPOLIS — A new way of looking at glaucoma and how it could be treated has resulted in $340,000 in grants for Brian Samuels, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute. Glaucoma, one of the most common diseases of the aging eye, occurs when pressure builds in the eye. Most treatments are aimed at controlling the pressure, which can cause damage to the optic nerve as it builds. The primary goal of current treatments, both medical and surgical, is to decrease the intra-ocular pressure and prevent or slow vision loss.“My research examines glaucoma as a central nervous system disease of the brain rather than just a disease of the eye,” said Dr. Samuels, who came to the Glick Eye Institute last year. “We want to identify regions of the hypothalamus that regulate the natural daily changes in pressure within the eye and in the brain. That will hopefully allow us to find new targets for drug therapy in the central nervous system.  If we are able to reduce eye pressure and pressure fluctuations by targeting certain areas of the brain, this would create a novel treatment for our patients with glaucoma and could be a tremendous breakthrough in this field.”

Dr. Samuels’ most recent grants are for $100,000 and $200,000 from the American Health Assistance Foundation and the Indiana University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Young Investigator Awards, respectively. He also received $40,000 from the American Glaucoma Society while completing his fellowship training at Duke University.

 “As a glaucoma specialist myself, I have been intrigued and excited by the focus of Dr. Samuels’ research,” said Louis B. Cantor, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Glick Eye Institute. “The fact that this translational research could lead to a novel treatment option for patients with glaucoma is quite fascinating.   Given his training as a glaucoma specialist and a neuroscientist, I believe, he is uniquely qualified to examine this area of research, and we are very happy and fortunate he has chosen to return to Indiana to join our faculty.”

The American Health Assistance Foundation selected Samuels for his early stage innovative project. The group noted it typically funds research projects that have a probability of future downstream funding and likely will generate a 10-fold return on investment. The organization also notes that 95 percent of projects it funds are reported in per-reviewed publications. 

Dr. Samuels is a graduate of the IU School of Medicine’s combined degree program in Indianapolis, where he completed both his M.D. and his Ph.D. in medical neurobiology.  Most recently, he completed both a clinical and research fellowship at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, NC prior to returning to Indiana University.  Dr. Samuels’ clinical practice will be moving with the remainder of the department from the Indiana University Hospital and Outpatient Center to the new Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute when it is opened this fall. Samuels currently lives in Southport, IN with his wife.