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Napoleone Ferrara, Joan W. Miller, Evangelos S. Gragoudas, Patrícia A. D'Amore, Anthony P. Adamis, George L. King and Lloyd Paul Aiello

The 2014 António Champalimaud Vision Award is given to seven researchers for the development of Anti-Angiogenic Therapy for Retinal Disease. 

Napoleone Ferrara, University of California San Diego 

Joan W. Miller, Harvard Medical School 

Evangelos S. Gragoudas, Harvard Medical School 

Patricia A. D’Amore, Harvard Medical School 

Anthony P. Adamis, University of Illinois - College of Medicine 

George L. King, Harvard Medical School 

Lloyd Paul Aiello, Harvard Medical School

This award confirms the importance of the research work developed by this group of scientists, which resulted in the discovery of an effective therapy for the treatment of two of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the world, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

But more than the result, the award recognises the entire scientific process that led to it, and that had an impact not only in ophthalmology but also in oncology:

In 1971, Judah Folkman suggested that a substance secreted by tumours would accelerate cancer by increasing vascularization. In the 1980s, Napoleone Ferrara, began work that ultimately isolated and cloned a protein responsible for vascular endothelial growth - VEGF (“Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor”). Ferrara went on to develop a molecule to block VEGF’s action. Many investigators, including those with whom Ferrara shares this prize - Joan Miller, Evangelos Gragoudas, Patricia D’Amore, Anthony Adamis, George King and Lloyd Paul Aiello - working independently and together, often with Ferrara, went on to demonstrate the important role that VEGF played in ocular retinal disease, and how anti-VEGF agents could block its effect. For the first time, a pharmacologic intervention that significantly improves the vision of patients affected by these often devastating retinal conditions is now available.

The work of this year’s awardees covers the entire research process, from the identification of the molecule, to the elucidation of its role in retinal-vascular disease in animals and humans, to the experimental evaluation of an inhibitor and its final application in the treatment of affected patients. 

The clinical value of anti-VEGF therapy has been well established through a large number of clinical trials in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema and retinal vein occlusions, offering a real hope to millions of affected individuals around the world.

About the awardees:

Napoleone Ferrara - MD, Distinguished Professor of Pathology; Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology; Senior Deputy Director for Basic Science University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. 

For the discovery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); for co-discovering the role of VEGF in eye disease; for the development of anti-VEGF therapies for vascular diseases of the eye; for contributions to the fundamental understanding of VEGF biology.

Joan W. Miller- MD, FARVO Henry Willard Williams Professor of Ophthalmology Chair, Department of Ophthalmology Harvard Medical School; Chief of Ophthalmology; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for developing verteporfin photodynamic therapy (PDT), the first pharmacologic treatment for angiogenic retinal disease.

Evangelos S. Gragoudas - MD, FARVO Charles Edward Whitten Professor of Ophthalmology Harvard Medical School; Director, Retina Service Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for developing verteporfin photodynamic therapy (PDT), the first pharmacologic treatment for angiogenic retinal disease.

Patricia A. D'Amore - PhD, MBA, FARVO Charles L. Schepens Professor of Ophthalmology; Professor of Pathology Vice Chair for Basic Research, Department of Ophthalmology Harvard Medical School; Director of Research & Ankeny Scholar of Retinal Molecular Biology, Schepens Eye Research Institute Associate Chief for Ophthalmology Basic and Translational Research, Director, Howe Laboratory Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for developing a widely used model of retinal neovascularization; for contributions to the fundamental understanding of VEGF biology.

Anthony P. Adamis - MD, FARVO Global Head of Ophthalmology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases Genentech/Roche; Lecturer on Ophthalmology Harvard Medical School Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences University of Illinois College of Medicine. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for developing and obtaining FDA approval for pegaptanib, the first anti-VEGF therapy in ophthalmology.

George L. King - MD, FARVO Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Director of Research Head of the Section on Vascular Cell Biology Joslin Diabetes Center. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for contributions to the fundamental understanding of VEGF biology.

Lloyd Paul Aiello - MD, PhD, FARVO Professor of Ophthalmology Harvard Medical School Vice President of Ophthalmology Head of the Section on Eye Research Director, Beetham Eye Institute Joslin Diabetes Center Associate Chief, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Longwood. 

For co-discovering the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in eye disease; for demonstrating the therapeutic potential of VEGF inhibitors in eye disease; for contributions to the fundamental understanding of VEGF biology.