The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


NIH grant to doctoral student working on dry eye

For those who are wondering where the NIH is, here's one for you... going to lacrimal gland study. It's not a lot of money but every bit counts.

Link to news article

( - USC School of Pharmacy senior research associate Liana Asatryan and doctoral student Janette Contreras have received an award from the National Institutes of Health to fund their respective projects in drug discovery and development....

Contreras won the Ruth L. Kirschstein Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, an NIH award created to promote diversity in health-related research. Contreras works in the lab of Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, the Gavin S. Herbert Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science.

Contreras’ fellowship provides $123,000 over three years, financing her work on the treatment of diseases of the eye. Specifically, Contreras will contribute to the Hamm-Alvarez lab’s focus on dry eye and Sjögren’s disease.

“My work focuses on diseases that target the lacrimal cells in the eye,” Contreras said. “We hope to find efficient ways to deliver medicines into the affected cells. Ultimately, this work may lead to treatments as well as cures for these ailments.”

By studying the role of the viral receptors in the eye’s lacrimal gland and how a virus travels into the gland, Contreras is trying to flip that delivery route and use it as a way for medicines to enter the affected eye molecules.