Eye Clinic Projects
Our laboratory focuses on both basic and translational research into the development and regulation of retinal blood vessel growth which leads to many eye diseases such as retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. We are interested in creating new approaches for treatment of these blinding diseases. Current projects are investigating stem cell therapies for retinal disease, the role of ephrins in blood vessel growth, and creating novel light activated drugs for treatment of retinopathy of prematurity and macular degeneration. Basic research in the lab is also examining the molecules that control vascular branching, as this is a key step in the progression of abnormal blood vessel growth which causes many retinal diseases.
We also have an interest in the creation of ophthalmic lenses and cameras to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. We have created a novel low cost portable hand-held retina camera that will soon enter clinical testing. We are also working on a self-illuminated ophthalmic contact lens to permit reflection free examination and treatment of the retina.
Research on neural development is also ongoing to examine the growth, patterning, and branching of retinal ganglion cell neurons which connect the eye to the brain. What starts as a disorganized set of connections from retinal ganglion cells to their target, the superior colliculus, reorganizes over the course of development into a highly specific two dimensional retinotopic map that recapitulates the two dimensional spatial arrangement of retinal ganglion cells in the retina. Many of the same molecules such as Notch, EphrinB, and VEGF that contribute to retinal blood vessel growth also control retinal neuronal growth and we hope to identify additional common mechanisms between the two systems. Our hope is that understanding how topographic patterning of retinal axons occurs will one day permit successful eye transplantation.