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Penn Vet’s William Beltran Honored for Translational Research to Treat Blindness

By Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194 Published: May 2, 2016

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology has recognized the University of Pennsylvania’s William Beltran with the ARVO Foundation’s 2016 Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award.

Dr. William BeltranThe award, which recognizes early-career scientists who have exhibited excellence in translational research on inherited blinding disorders and whose discoveries have led to or show promise of leading to clinical applications, was presented Sunday, May 1, at the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting in Seattle.

“Our translational work in gene therapy for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa has led to some extremely encouraging results that have put us on a path for clinical trials in humans,” Beltran said. “I am honored to be recognized by ARVO and Pfizer and for their commitment to pushing forward research and treatment of vision disorders.”

Beltran is an associate professor of ophthalmology in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. His research focuses on inherited retinal degeneration, a major cause of blindness in dogs and humans worldwide. Specifically, he has investigated the signaling pathways affected by X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, one of the most common forms of retinal degeneration. Working in canines, who suffer from a form of retinal degeneration that closely mimics human disease, he has helped develop effective gene therapies with promising results for treating both early- and late-stage disease.  

Beltran, who is board-certified in veterinary ophthalmology, earned his veterinary degree at the École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, France, and his Ph.D. in comparative biomedical sciences from Cornell University. He has previously received a Merck/Merial Veterinary Research Award, a Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award and the Merck Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award. 

Dr. William Betran (r) receives the ARVO Foundation 2016 Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award.

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 4,900 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

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