Over the next two decades, the number of Americans with macular degeneration is expected to double, to more than 24 million.
NIU’s Elizabeth Gaillard is working to slow, or stop, that process.
During her 16 years as a professor the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Biological Sciences at NIU, Gaillard has established herself as one of the leading researchers of the disease, working at the intersection of chemistry and biology to cure what is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world.
“There is no one I know who combines as well as she the equal mastery of the biology of the eye, the chemistry of its disease mechanisms, and the photophysical processes occurring in them,” says Jacob Petrich, a professor of Chemistry at Iowa State University.
Her work has attracted more than $1.5 million in research funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and organizations like Prevent Blindness America. She has published more than 50 papers, most in leading journals. Gaillard also holds one U.S. patent and two provisional patents related to diagnosis and treatment of macular degeneration and several other retinal disorders.
Currently Gaillard’s research pursuits include the development of diagnostic imaging technologies to detect diseases of the eye, as well as working with other NIU researchers to develop time released coatings that can be placed in the eye via shunts or lenses to release drugs slowly over a long period of time. Currently, those drugs are delivered by injection and are very short-acting.
In addition to her research, Gaillard has developed an outstanding track record as a mentor to graduate and undergraduate students at NIU, having successfully mentored six Ph.D. candidates, seven M.S. candidates, three post-doctoral candidates and more than 50 undergraduate research students.