Bhanu P. Telugu

Bhanu P. Telugu, PhD, Randy Wheelock Award Winner

September 13, 2022, 11:00 GMT

Choroideremia Research Foundation supports development of first CHM porcine model to advance research for choroideremia, a rare inherited retinal disease

For the first time, the CRF is excited to support the development of a large animal (porcine) model to advance our research goals. ”
— Neal Bench, CRF board president

SPRINGFIELD, MA, UNITED STATES / — The Choroideremia Research Foundation (CRF) is pleased to announce Bhanu P. Telugu, PhD as the recipient of the 3rd Annual CRF Randy Wheelock Research Award. Dr. Telugu is an associate professor in the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and the founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of RenOVAte Biosciences, Inc., a Maryland based start-up company. The award is for $50,000.

“I am deeply grateful and honored by this award. This initial seed investment from the foundation will allow us to leverage our core expertise in genetic engineering to generate a much-needed pre-clinical CHM pig model to advance cures to the patients”, said Dr. Telugu.

Choroideremia (CHM) is currently an incurable disease of the retina and choroid, characterized by a progressive loss of vision and blindness. Loss of night vision begins in the first decade of life and progresses with a gradual loss of peripheral vision and legal blindness in subsequent decades. The disease is caused by mutations in the CHM gene located on the X chromosome. Typically, men experience more significant manifestation of the disease, and while females are carriers, passing the disease on to their male children, they may also experience some level of vision impairment, especially later in life. In this proposal, A Novel Porcine Pre-Clinical Model for Choroideremia Research, the specific aim of Dr. Telugu’s team to generate and characterize a novel and translationally relevant preclinical pig model of CHM disease. This novel large-animal model will serve to bridge an important gap in our ability to develop stem-cell and gene-therapy based treatments in humans.

“For the first time, the CRF is excited to support the development of a large animal (porcine) model to advance our research goals. Pig models are a vital next step that allows us to develop treatments that can be readily translated to human patients,” says Neal Bench, CRF board president.

Randy Wheelock became involved with CRF in 2007 and eventually served as the organization’s Chief Advisor for Research and Therapy Development. He was an integral part of the organization’s achievements over the years. To keep Randy’s dream alive after his passing in 2019, CRF launched the annual award in support of emerging scientists and research professionals working on choroideremia (CHM) or related issues.

The 2023 research award call for proposals will be announced in January 2023 with submissions due by March 31. Additional grant proposals seeking general project funding related to choroideremia are also welcome on a rolling basis. Please visit for more information about CHM as well as CRF-funded research, resources, and services.


About Choroideremia
Choroideremia (CHM) is a rare inherited form of blindness affecting approximately 1 in 50,000 people. Due to its x-linked inheritance pattern males are most severely affected with females usually experiencing much milder visual impairment. Symptoms begin in early childhood with night blindness and restriction of visual field being the earliest noticeable effects, eventually progressing to complete blindness. An estimated 6,000 people in the United States and 10,000 in the European Union are impacted by Choroideremia. There are currently no approved treatments for Choroideremia. For more information, visit

About the Choroideremia Research Foundation Inc.
The Choroideremia Research Foundation was founded in 2000 as an international fundraising and patient advocacy organization to stimulate research on CHM. Since its inception, the CRF has provided over $4.5 million in research awards and is the largest financial supporter of CHM research worldwide. Research funded by the CRF has led to the development of a CHM mouse model, the pre-clinical production of gene therapy vectors utilized in clinical trials, and the CRF Biobank which stores tissue and stem cell samples donated by CHM patients. For more information, visit

Kathleen Wagner
Choroideremia Research Foundation
+1 800-210-0233
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