Wake Forest University School of Medicine has launched a new Translational Eye and Vision Research Center, located inside Biotech Place, in Innovation Quarter. Leaders envision the center serving as a visionary hub that will redefine the landscape of eye and vision research.

The center is led by two Wake Forest University School of Medicine faculty members: Rebecca Sappington, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry, and Jian-Xing Ma, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of biochemistry.

“The launch of the Translational Eye and Vision Research Center represents a profound commitment to advancing our understanding of vision and eye diseases,” said Ebony Boulware, M.D., dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “We believe that this center will not only impact the lives of countless individuals but also foster collaboration and innovation in the broader scientific community. This center will serve as a cornerstone in our mission to establish Wake Forest University School of Medicine as a leader in vision excellence.”

At its core, the center is dedicated to promoting translational and team-based research in vision and eye disease. The center creates a dynamic and innovative environment for translational research by uniting vision researchers across Advocate Health – of which Wake Forest University School of Medicine is the academic core – and peer academic institutions, stakeholder research organizations and biotechnology and community partners. This collaborative environment will thrive on innovation and dynamism.

Central to the center’s initiatives are pilot and travel award programs designed to expedite discovery and innovation. These programs will empower vision scientists and clinician-scientists to pursue groundbreaking research, driving remarkable progress in the field. Additionally, the center features four research cores, including the Ocular Biorepository Core Resource, directed by Sappington.

“A dynamic seminar series and a calendar filled with special events will cultivate a rich collaborative atmosphere, ensuring the development of the next generation of vision scientists,” Boulware said. “This steadfast commitment to nurturing talent guarantees a bright future for the vision research here at Wake Forest and across the entire Advocate Health footprint.”

The launch of the Translational Eye and Vision Research Center aligns with the new Eye Institute, which will be located across the street from Biotech Place in Innovation Quarter. Work is scheduled to begin soon on the Eye Institute.

“I am thrilled to witness the launch of the Translational Eye and Vision Research Center which represents a monumental leap forward in our commitment to advancing the field of ophthalmology,” said Craig Greven, M.D., professor and chair of ophthalmology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and ophthalmologist at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. “By fostering collaboration and innovation among researchers and clinicians, this center, together with the Eye Institute, promises to usher in a new era of discovery that will propel us to the forefront of sight-saving research and improved clinical care for our patients and our community.”