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Bright Focus FoundationYong-Su Kwon, Ph.DUNC Department of Ophthalmology congratulates third-year post-doctoral fellow Yong-Su Kwon, PhD, for receiving a BrightFocus Foundation Macular Degeneration Research Award in July 2022. Each year, BrightFocus Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Program grants are awarded to post-doctoral fellows pursuing pioneering research leading to greater understanding, prevention, and treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In the BrightFocus 2022 grant cycle, Kwon was awarded $200,000 distributed over two years for his proposed study — Nanoceria-Coated Melanin Nanoparticles as a Novel Antioxidant for Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

Kwon will carry out this BrightFocus Foundation-funded investigation with his mentor and UNC Ophthalmology Retinal Drug/Gene Delivery Associate Professor and Zongchao Han, MD, PhD. BrightFocus Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Program funding extends Kwon’s work in the Han Lab in developing novel therapeutics for treating wet form and dry form AMD. Since 2019, Kwon has participated in multiple Han Lab studies focused on developing novel nanoparticles for translational treatment of various ocular disorders.

Kwon noted: “The number of therapies to treat AMD have increased, yet unwanted side effects and patient compliance are ever present. Neutralizing oxidative stress by pharmacological antioxidants has emerged as one potential treatment to attenuate pathological damages for AMD and study melanin-based antioxidants for ophthalmic application.

If this novel investigative strategy and creative design are successful, this study could achieve single-dose administration for AMD and relieve pathological damages. This postdoctoral fellowship program in macular degeneration research enables me to help advance safe and effective melanin nanoparticle-based new antioxidant therapeutics with long-term effects through development of a single intravitreal injection for AMD.”