Research in mysterious blindness

Jakob Nielsen Vennike is one of the researchers who have previously received support from VELUX FONDEN´s programme that focuses on younger eye researchers.

Jakob Nielsen Vennike is a Ph.D. student from the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark. In 2015, he received 1.7 million DKK for his postdoctoral project on the particular form of blindness called cortical blindness.

This mysterious disease presumably arise due to among other things disturbances during the normal development of the cortical visual areas. The consequence for the patient may be loss of visual sense making it difficult to recognize faces and shapes of things or loss of the ability to navigate and find the way.

6 million DKK for postdoctoral scholarships

VELUX FONDEN is offering grants for postdoctoral ophthalmology research fellowships for hyounger researchers. The aim of the fellowships is to attract, develop and retain promising researchers at the beginning of their independent research careers.

 

Cortical blindness in focus

"With my research, I would like to contribute to a large knowledge about how the cerebral cortex primary visual area is formed. If there are errors during the formation of this area, that affects our ability to process and understand visual impressions - and if it can cause brain conditional visual impairment or in some cases complete loss of vision, which is called cortical blindness,” says Jakob Vennike Nielsen.

The project focuses on the so-called Zbtb20 gene. The concrete experiments in the project is conducted in genetically modified mice, as basic scientific experiments of this type is not possible in humans.

"We know in advance that the Zbtb20 gene is essential for the development of the hippocampus, which is the brain's learning section, which among other things support vision-based memory processes such as recognition of object and visual elements,” says Jakob Nielsen Vennike, and unveils some of the project's preliminary results:

"Our preliminary results show that changes in the expression of the Zbtb20 gene actually affect the development of the cerebral cortex primary visual area. Right now we are therefore concerned with making a detailed description of the changes and identifying the molecular mechanisms that are disturbed when there are changes in the expression of the Zbtb20 gene,” says Jakob Nielsen Vennike.

Off to a good start with the grant from VELUX FONDEN

The project will run over the next three years.

"I am very grateful for the grant from the VELUX FONDEN, which has been crucial for the research project to be implemented,” says Jakob Nielsen Vennike.

 

 

Read more about VELUX FONDEN´s support for eye research.