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Bar Harbor Scientist Simon W. M. John Awarded 2013 Bressler Prize in Vision Science

Posted June 25, 2013, at 11:01 a.m.
Simon W. M. John, PhD, was awarded the 2013 Bressler Prize in Vision Science by Jewish Guild Healthcare.
Simon W. M. John, PhD, was awarded the 2013 Bressler Prize in Vision Science by Jewish Guild Healthcare.

Simon W. M. John, PhD, who has dedicated his career to the understanding and treatment of glaucoma, has been awarded the 2013 Bressler Prize in Vision Science. Dr. John is a scientist at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, where his lab studies the molecular features of complex diseases such as glaucoma, a major cause of human blindness.

Glaucoma gradually steals a person’s sight without warning by causing damage to the optic nerve. Studying mouse models and patient samples, Dr. John’s lab combines genetics with genomics, cell/molecular biology and physiology to understand how this damage occurs, and to develop methods for identifying new genes and the pathways that cause glaucoma.

“Glaucoma is certainly more common in the aging population, but it is important to bear in mind that all segments of the population are affected, including newborn children,” said Dr. John recently. “Current treatments are not adequate,” he continued. “They’re all aimed at lowering the intraocular eye pressure, and they’re not effective in all patients. By identifying the genes and molecular processes that contribute to the risk of developing glaucoma, our studies may suggest new pathways and targets for treatment.”

Internationally recognized glaucoma researcher and clinician, George A. “Jack” Cioffi, MD, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, said, “I applaud the Guild for recognizing Dr. John’s seminal glaucoma research by awarding him the Guild’s prestigious Bressler Prize.”

Dr. John is a Senior Staff Scientist/Professor at The Jackson Laboratory, which he joined in 1995. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1998. He also holds the position of Research Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology, at Tufts University School of Medicine. From 1991-1995, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Oliver Smithies, Excellence Professor of Pathology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He received his BSc in Zoology and Genetics from University College, Cardiff, and his PhD in Biology from McGill University.

Jewish Guild Healthcare

Since its founding in 1914, the mission of the Jewish Guild has been to help those with vision loss live with independence and dignity. The Guild is a not-for-profit, non-sectarian agency that serves persons of all ages who are visually impaired, blind and multidisabled. The Guild provides a wide range of programs and services that include clinical services, low vision rehabilitation, adult day health care, mental health services, education, and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Guild also offers health plans to provide, manage and coordinate healthcare services so that people with long term care and other special needs can live safely at home.

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