2015 Beckman Symposium   

Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD

Presentation Date:

Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD

Macular Degeneration - Steady Progress to a Cure

Case Western Reserve University



Macular degeneration of the retina, exhibiting both juvenile and age-related forms, has multiple causes. Stargardt disease is an inheritable juvenile form that produces progressive vision loss and blindness whereas the age-related form or AMD probably results from insults to biochemical pathways required for vision. A rational approach for early detection and successful therapy of this group of retinopathies is still lacking.


Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD is the John H. Hord Professor & Chair, Department of Pharmacology

A world leader in vision research, Dr. Palczewski is best known for solving the crystal structure of the visual protein, rhodopsin. This seminal advance is especially notable because rhodopsin is now the model for understanding how this large family called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) respond to various cellular signals, including hormones. Indeed, the wide distribution of GPCRs and their roles in a broad spectrum of physiological functions implicated in various disease states has made them the primary target for new drug discovery. Dr. Palczewski’s latest translational research shows promise for preventing/arresting age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of human blindness.

Recipient of several national/international honors and supported by multiple competitive National Institutes of Health awards and industrial grants, Dr. Palczewski and his team of 20 postdoctoral fellows and Ph. D. candidates have focused their research on the biochemistry of vision. Their investigations involve the characteristics, discovery and therapeutic manipulation of biological molecules in the retina of the eye needed for phototransduction, namely the translation of light into biochemical signals required for vision.

Major awards: Trustee Award-Foundation Fighting Blindness-2000; Alcon Research Institute-2001; Tom and Sandy Trudell Research Award-Foundation Fighting Blindness-2007; Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit-Republic of Poland, September 2011; Roger H. Johnson Macular Degeneration Award, University of Washington, June, 2012; 2012 Award-Foundation for Polish Sciences (highest ranking research award in Poland; CWRU Distinguished Researcher Award, April 2013; Friedenwald Award, ARVO, 2014.

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