UMN Medical School Fellow Awarded Grant to Study Disease Which Causes Blindness in Premature Infants

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- June 5, 2019 – Ellen Ingolfsland, MD, Pediatrics Fellow at the University of Minnesota Medical School, has been awarded a $65,000 grant on behalf of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc. for her work with a common blinding eye disease among premature infants which accounts for up to 40% of childhood blindness.

May 14, 2019, representatives of the Knights of Templar Eye Foundation personally presented Ingolfsland with the first $55,000 of the grant which will fund her research. The goal of which is to understand the role of neonatal anemia and its treatment with erythropoietin (EPO) on the development of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is characterized by abnormal blood vessel development in the retina.

“It has been difficult to prove the role of anemia beyond observational studies due to the complex clinical environment of the hospital,” explained Ingolfsland. “In this study, I will use a preclinical model to study the effect of neonatal anemia and its treatment with EPO on the developing retina.”

Ingolfsland will measure gene and protein levels of molecules important in regulating retinal blood vessel development as well as visualizing changes to the retinal blood vessels themselves. By doing so, she hopes to determine if and how anemia and its treatment with EPO affect ROP development, which could in turn influence clinical care and improves the vision and outcomes of preterm infants.

“The Knights of Templar Eye Foundation, Inc. is committed to supporting the work of young researchers that could lead to the prevention and cure of potentially blinding diseases in infants and children,” said S.K. Douglas Pamp, KCT, Right Eminent Grand Commander with the Knights Templar of Minnesota. “We are excited and optimistic about Dr. Ingolfsland’s research, and honored to present her with this award towards it.”

“This grant will be instrumental in jump-starting my career as a physician-scientist,” said Ingolfsland, who will be joining the University of Minnesota as a pediatric faculty member in August. “Studying how the comorbidities experienced by preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) impact their risk for developing this vision-altering and potentially blinding disease, retinopathy of prematurity is my primary scientific passion. The KTEF grant gives me the opportunity to investigate how anemia, a comorbidity experienced by almost all extremely preterm infants in the NICU, impacts this risk.”

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.

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