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

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.

The 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. 

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