Skip to Content

UPMC Vision Institute Investigators Receive National Science Foundation Grant to Study Optimal Treatment Patterns for Diabetic Retinopathy

November 10, 2023

Taewoo Lee, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, and Andrew M. Williams, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study treatment optimization for patients with diabetic retinopathy, a chronic condition that can lead to vision loss in individuals with diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Treatment can include injections or laser therapy, with the type and frequency of treatment varying based on the severity of a patient’s condition and their clinical response. Patient compliance is crucial to successful treatment, but barriers exist that can prevent individuals from receiving ongoing therapy.

In their study, Drs. Lee and Williams will use data from UPMC, two Houston-area hospitals, and a national ophthalmic dataset and examine both the patient and clinic perspective. In the patient modeling phase, the team hopes to determine an optimal treatment schedule based on clinical and follow-up characteristics. In the second phase of the study, Drs. Lee and Williams will examine how eye clinics can improve patient compliance and access to care in a more personalized way. The team hopes to develop an evidence-based, patient-specific treatment strategy that clinics can implement to maximize patient outcomes.