NIH's Jessica Mazerik Discusses Novel Competition to Grow Mini Retinas

$100,000 award for up to 3 winners in a race to grow the best artifical retinas.

“There are several people who are currently working on this,” Jessica Mazerik, PhD, NEI Challenge Coordinator, told MD Magazine at ARVO 2017 abou the NIH's retina growing competition. “They have good protocols, but we really want to push it further. We want to bring in people from other scientific disciplines, like bioengineers, 3-D bioprinting, material scientists, developmental biologists, anyone who can bring in unique expertise and give novel ideas to push these things to the next level.”

So far, nine sponsors have joined the challenge to support solvers through grants, access to expertise, and discounted reagents, and in-kind testing. The backers include Genentech, XCell Science, Millipore Sigma, and the Assocation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology itself.

Mazerik also described the array of diseases that could be modeled and addressed through the competition, as well as her experience at her first ARVO meeting.