Ambati Receives Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award

Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, professor and vice chair in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine,is one of 11 recipients of the 2014 Harrington Scholar-Innovator Awards given by the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center. These awards, chosen from more than 500 applicants at more than 100 institutions, will support drug discovery efforts of great promise at renowned institutions across the nation.

Ambati's award will support development of novel therapeutics to treat Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness among the elderly, based on his laboratory’s pioneering discoveries that identified the pathways responsible for advanced, dry AMD and were published in the journals Nature and Cell.

For the past decade, American medicine has been challenged in developing new drugs that would improve on standard of care. Lacking knowhow and industry support, many discoveries are unable to advance into the clinical realm. Aimed at addressing this critical issue, the Harrington Discovery Institute (HDI), established in 2012, is a national initiative dedicated to physician-scientists, enabling them to transform breakthrough insights into novel medicines. The institute has become the catalyst for a new national model that aligns, through structure and mission, for-profit and nonprofit resources to create a dedicated system for drug development.

“By identifying promising scientific discoveries and linking the researchers responsible for them with scientific and business experts in drug development, we set out to build a bridge across the ‘Valley of Death’ – the chasm between the laboratory and commercialization of new therapies,” says the institute’s director, Dr. Jonathan Stamler. “We provide inventors – Harrington Scholar-Innovators of unusual promise from around the nation, who share a laser-sharp focus on advancing innovations – with biopharmaceutical expertise necessary to conquer disease.”

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or ann.blackford@uky.edu.