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Mission: The mission of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute is to engage in high impact research and discovery related to visual function and disease the outcome of which is expected to have far-reaching clinical applications for patients suffering from blindness and visual disorders.

Research emphasis: Leading causes of blindness worldwide include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and corneal disruption. At Augusta University, we have a number of basic scientists and clinicians who are investigating many of these devastating diseases. Members of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute include faculty members from the Augusta University Medical College of Georgia, College of Allied Health Services, Dental College of Georgia and College of Graduate Studies.

To achieve the mission of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute, we are committed to fostering interactions among the members of our group. We welcome MCG colleagues and members of the community to participate in The Vision Discovery Institute Distinguished Seminar Series and Ophthalmology Grand Rounds. Currently we have courses for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows including Fundamentals of Vision Science and Current topics in Vision Science. We have a Pilot Project program that supports basic science-clinical collaborations leading to larger extramural awards for vision-related diseases. We now offer all vision researchers access to services/expertise/equipment available through the NEI Center Core Grant for Vision Research (P30) and the individual modules within the P30: Module 1: Visual function assessment, Module 2: Histology and Imaging and Module 3: Gene Expression and Proteomics.

The Culver Vision Discovery Institute is co-directed by Dr. Sylvia Smith, Regents’ Professor and Chair of the Department of Cellular Biology/Anatomy and Dr. Steven Brooks, William S. Hagler, MD Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at the Medical College of Georgia. If you wish to contact them regarding the mission or activities of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute, you may send an email to Ms. Heide Andrews or you may call the Vision Discovery Institute at 706-721-3731. The administrative duties of the Vision Discovery Institute are managed by Ms. Heide Andrews and Ms. Jenny Roberts (   

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Culver Vision Discovery Institute


Ms. Heide Andrews

VDI News

Doctors in lab

$3 million National Eye Institute grant supports growth of vision research at MCG, AU

“This growing group of scientists has always been a highly collaborative and collegial group, happy to share their expertise and equipment, but the grant enables us to formalize and expand our sharing more efficiently and effectively."

Dr. Steven Brooks

Brooks named chair of MCG Department of Ophthalmology

Brooks, who was an associate professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at MCG from 1994-2001, returns to the medical school in January.

doctors in lab

New treatment targets found for blinding retinal disease

When the eye isn’t getting enough oxygen in the face of common conditions like premature birth or diabetes, it sets in motion a state of frenzied energy production that can ultimately result in blindness, and now scientists have identified new points where they may be able to calm the frenzy and instead enable recovery.

people looking at lab equipment

Lipid helps heal the eye’s frontline protection

A species of a lipid that naturally helps skin injuries heal appears to also aid repair of common corneal injuries, even when other conditions, like diabetes, make healing difficult, scientists report.