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Mission: The mission of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute is to engage in high impact research and discovery related to visual function and disease the outcome of which is expected to have far-reaching clinical applications for patients suffering from blindness and visual disorders.

Research emphasis: Leading causes of blindness worldwide include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and corneal disruption. At Augusta University, we have a number of basic scientists and clinicians who are investigating many of these devastating diseases. Members of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute include faculty members from the Augusta University Medical College of Georgia, College of Allied Health Services, Dental College of Georgia and College of Graduate Studies.

To achieve the mission of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute, we are committed to fostering interactions among the members of our group. We welcome MCG colleagues and members of the community to participate in The Vision Discovery Institute Distinguished Seminar Series and Ophthalmology Grand Rounds. Currently we have courses for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows including Fundamentals of Vision Science and Current topics in Vision Science. We have a Pilot Project program that supports basic science-clinical collaborations leading to larger extramural awards for vision-related diseases. We now offer all vision researchers access to services/expertise/equipment available through the NEI Center Core Grant for Vision Research (P30) and the individual modules within the P30: Module 1: Visual function assessment, Module 2: Histology and Imaging and Module 3: Gene Expression and Proteomics.

The Culver Vision Discovery Institute is co-directed by Dr. Sylvia Smith, Regents’ Professor and Chair of the Department of Cellular Biology/Anatomy and Dr. Steven Brooks, William S. Hagler, MD Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at the Medical College of Georgia. If you wish to contact them regarding the mission or activities of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute, you may send an email to Ms. Heide Andrews or you may call the Vision Discovery Institute at 706-721-3731. The administrative duties of the Vision Discovery Institute are managed by Ms. Heide Andrews and Ms. Jenny Roberts (   

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Culver Vision Discovery Institute


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VDI News

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Powerful enzyme that tamps down inflammation holds promise for protecting eyes in diabetes, premature birth

Making more of enzyme A1, which tamps down inflammation, available could help treat diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity.

men and women talking at a health fair

What’s happening at Augusta University? June 6-12

Story ideas include: a health fair for those over 55, Augusta University alumni work to reduce water pollution, and a noninvasive way to collect tear fluid could be used to diagnose other health conditions.

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Noninvasive technique collects sufficient tear fluid to look for biomarkers of health and disease

One day a tear fluid workup could be as routine as bloodwork during a physical exam as well as in diagnosing a myriad of conditions, from dry eye disease to Alzheimer’s.

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Protein protects brain cells most impacted by glaucoma

The new study provides some of the first evidence that synthetic compounds that activate sigma 1 receptor may one day help mitigate damage from glaucoma.