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[March 15, 2012]                                                  

Dr. Brahim Chaqour Receives $1.5 Million Grant from National Eye Institute

Brahim Chaqour, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and ophthalmology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, received a grant award from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health to support his research on disorders of retinal vessel growth and function, which are responsible for vision loss in retinopathy of infant prematurity—a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness in childhood.   

This award, in the amount of $1,571,000, provides Dr. Chaqour with the opportunity to continue his investigations in the mechanisms of retinal capillary closure and neovascularization that results in bleeding and retinal detachment. These are major causes of blindness in patients with diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of infant prematurity, and age-related macular degeneration.  Said Dr. Chaqour, “Knowledge gained from these studies will allow development of new therapeutic leads to treat retinal ischemic diseases and improve the pharmacotherapy of microangiopathies as a whole.”

Dr. Chaqour’s research has focused on the regulation and function of specific matricellular proteins known as CCN proteins [Cysteine-rich protein 61, connective tissue growth factor, nephroblastoma overexpressed (NOV)]. These are multimodular developmentally regulated, immediate early-gene encoded, integrin-binding proteins with cell type- and cell context-dependent functions. They exhibit pro- and anti-angiogenic, apoptotic- and/or profibrotic activities and regulate both developmental and pathological processes. As such, these proteins have emerged as early diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets.

Dr Chaqour is one of the leading researchers in the biology of these molecules and his previous work has already identified key molecular intermediates in the regulation and function of these molecules that are amenable to pharmacological manipulations.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.