The Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness (ISPB) offers unique grant opportunities supporting mentored pre-clinical or clinical research programs designed to foster junior investigator development while advancing clinical care in ophthalmology and optometry. Preference is given to high-quality grant submissions from applicants (PI) that are at the start of their career, including graduate, medical, or OD students currently enrolled full-time at an accredited institution of higher education or postdoctoral fellows/residents that are within seven years after receiving their advanced degree (MD, OD, PhD). Students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents are required to have a faculty mentor involved with their research.

The primary mission of ISPB is to reduce preventable causes of blindness by educating the public on the necessity for and the methods of preventing blindness. ISPB annually awards grants to support research in eye and vision health, with priority granted to areas of inquiry with direct clinical relevance (translational research).

The Research Committee, which consists of ISPB board members and other professionals from ophthalmology and optometry, reviews and awards the grants. Applications are evaluated based on several criteria, including study originality, feasibility, scientific rigor, educational environment and clinical significance.

Please Note: Applications are due early May with awards announced in June. Checks are issued once grant recipients provide the final paperwork. Research projects must be completed by June 30th of the following calendar year.

The 2017 application period has closed. Please check back in March, 2018 for the May due date (applications are normally due the first Wednesday in May).

Download the required application here. Save it and send back as a pdf with your last name first, first name and the name of your school (e.g., Smith, Joe – Northwestern).

Download the required authorization form here. Save it and send back as a pdf along with your completed application.

Download an example application here.

Grant recipients can access the ISPB Mid-Year Report Form due January 27th here. Save and send it back as a pdf with last name first, first name and “mid year report” (e.g. Smith, Joe – mid year report).

Grant recipients can access the ISPB Final Report Form due June 30th here. Save and send it back as a pdf with last name first, first name and “final report” (e.g. Smith, Joe – final report).

Please send all documents to:

View the 2017 grant recipients here.

James A. McKechnie, Jr. Award Recipients

The James A. McKechnie, Jr. Award is given to the principal investigator with the highest quality grant proposal based on the relevance of the research, clarity of theCrystal Algenio 2016 Awardeesis and quality of writing. The research project is fully funded and the investigator receives a one-year Professional Membership in ISPB.

The 2016 award goes to Crystal Algenio, medical student at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. Crystal is currently involved in research aimed at identifying new therapeutic agents to treat dry eye disease, as well as developing animal models that can imitate the complex mechanisms behind the development of dry eyes. Her project is entitled: the therapeutic effect of Bacterial Exopolysaccharides on Experimental Dry Eye.


The 2015 award went to Judy Chen, M.D. ISPB Research Committee Chair, Dr. David MorimoChen - Morimototo, presented the award at the December meeting of the Chicago Ophthalmology Society. Dr. Chen, a resident at the University of Illinois Chicago, is investigating Vision Loss and Papilledema in Patients with Brain Tumors. Dr. Chen stated, “Currently, very little is known not only about the prevalence of papilledema in patients with brain tumors, but also how to detect patients at risk for loss of vision from papilledema.”



The first annual James A. McKechnie, Jr. Award was presented in 2014 to Gautam Vangipuram, a medical student at the University of Illinois Chicago for his research project – 2014 Award PresentationAssociation Between Retinal Vein Size and Short-term Intracranial Pressure Changes in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. The McKechnie Award recognizes the highest quality grant proposal based on the relevance of the research, clarity of thesis and quality of writing.

Dr. David Morimoto, ISPB Research Committee Chair, presented Mr. Vangipuram with the award at the September 29th Chicago Ophthalmology Society meeting.


Past ISPB Research Grant Recipients