Schepens Eye Research Institute Milestones for 2013

Highlights of scientific achievements

 

Patricia A DAmore PhD MBA FARVO in lab

Schepens Eye Research Institute ushers in the New Year with highlights of faculty accomplishment during the previous twelve months.

In announcing the print and web scientific milestone initiative, Schepens Director of Research, Dr. Patricia A. D'Amore (pictured at left) stated: "As we finish up 2013 and move into 2014 it is an ideal time to recap some of the accomplishments of our colleagues and you will find a sampling below. Congratulations to all on their achievements and keep up the good work!"

 

 

Pablo Argueso, PhD

Pablo Argüeso, Ph.D.

The Argüeso Lab demonstrated that herpes virus exploits the carbohydrate-binding protein galectin-3 on cell surfaces to gain access to human host cells, and they revealed a protective role for transmembrane mucins in masking viral entry mediators in the eye. Importantly, the laboratory has shown feasibility of modulating ocular surface barrier function using a galectin-3 N-terminal deletion mutant and membrane-anchored synthetic glycopolyme

Peter J. Bex, PhD

Peter Bex, Ph.D.

The Bex Lab developed a method for measuring contrast sensitivity rapidly, accurately, and precisely on mobile devices. Their system is being used to study visual development in Norway, HIV positive patients in South Africa, dietary supplements in the UK, myopia in China, and sight recovery in India.

Alex Bowers, PhD

Alex Bowers, Ph.D.

The Bowers’ multicenter randomized crossover clinical trial of real vs. sham peripheral prism glasses confirmed the efficacy of the real prism glasses as a simple mobility device to assist patients with hemianopia detect obstacles on the non-seeing side when walking. Published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

chauhan

Sunil Chauhan, DVM, Ph.D.

The Chauhan Lab’s studies provide new insights on regulatory T cell (Treg) mechanism of action in the suppression of alloimmunity. The data show that Treg expression of chemokine receptor CCR7 is most critical in regulating both Treg homing and suppressive function. They provide novel evidence that Tregs augmented for CCR7 expression show enhanced homing to the draining lymph nodes and promote corneal transplant survival. Journal of Immunology (In Press).

chen

Dongfeng Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

The Chen Lab reports that the retinal environment of adult mammals presents negative signals for the growth and neuroregeneration of endogenous retinal stem cells, through expressing ephrin-As.  The study suggests the possibility of activating the endogenous regenerative potential for retinal repair and restoration of vision.

Kinsang (Anson) Cho, PhD

Kinsang (Anson) Cho, Ph.D.

The ciliary epithelium of adult mammals has been reported to provide a source of retinal stem cells (RSCs) but in general these cells are in dormant state. Recently, the Cho Lab found that ephrin-A3 molecule is a negative regulator of proliferation and differentiation of ciliary epithelial cells by suppressing Wnt/β-cantenin signaling in adult mice.
damore

Patricia A. D’Amore, Ph.D.

The D’Amore Lab reported that human RPE cells express the components of the NLRP3 inflammasome and demonstrated inflammasome activation by lysosomal destabilization. Immunohistochemical demonstration of inflammasome activation in retinal tissues from donor eyes with AMD but not age-matched controls implicates inflammasome activation in the pathogenesis of AMD. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.
Reza Dana, MD, MPH, MSc

Reza Dana, MD, MPH, MSc

The Dana Lab established the central role of (i) Th17-mediated immunological memory in maintaining chronic ocular surface disease, even without constant exposure to a desiccating environment, Mucosal Immunology, 2013, and (ii) CCR6-CCL20 chemokine axis in mediating recruitment of Th17 cells to the ocular surface in dry eye disease, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.

Darlene Dartt, Ph.D.

Darlene Dartt, Ph.D.

With Meredith Gregory, the Dartt Lab found that in cultured conjunctival goblet cells, toxigenic Staphlococcus aureus activates the NRLP3 inflammasome to activate caspase-1 to break down pro-IL-1b and secrete mature IL-1b. This novel mechanism controls bacterial infection and demonstrates that conjunctival goblet cells function as an important component of the innate immune system.   

Juan Ding, Ph.D.

Juan Ding, Ph.D.

The Ding Lab created an in vitro model of meibomian gland dysfunction using immortalized human meibomian gland epithelial cells treated with 13-cis retinoic acid, published in Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.

 

Ilene Gipson, Ph.D.

Ilene Gipson, Ph.D.

The Gipson Lab’s major findings included: Conjunctival goblet cell differentiation requires the transcription factor, SPDEF, published in the American Journal of Pathology, (2013;83:35-48) and Myeloperoxidase in tears is an indicator of inflammation, published in Ophthalmology (Epub ahead of print).

Meredith Gregory, Ph.D.

Meredith Gregory, Ph.D.

Glaucoma is a chronic disease that can lead to vision loss due to the death of a certain type of cell in the retina called the retinal ganglion cell.  Using two mouse models of glaucoma The Gregory Lab identified a novel neuroprotective molecule, soluble Fas ligand that not only prevents retinal ganglion cell death, but also protects other retinal cells during glaucoma.

Pedram Hamrah, M.D.

Pedram Hamrah, M.D.

The Hamrah Lab developed a novel intravital imaging model of the draining lymph node of the cornea, the submandibular lymph node. This model is now used to study adaptive immune responses in corneal transplantation and herpetic keratitis. Also, a new and simple model for trigeminal axotomy was developed that is currently utilized to study the role of corneal nerves on adaptive and innate corneal immune responses.

Tatjana Jakobs, M.D.

Tatjana Jakobs, M.D.

The Jakobs Lab discovered that astrocytes in the optic nerve become reactive in glaucoma and show thickening and reduced complexity of their processes that correlate with the severity of the disease as indicated by ganglion cell loss in the retina. In early stages of glaucoma, astrocytes grow small aberrant processes into ganglion cell axon bundles.

Ula V. Jurkunas, M.D.

Ula Jurkunas, M.D., Ph.D.

The Jurkunas Lab demonstrated that corneal limbal fibroblasts have mesenchymal stem cell qualities and can be differentiated into stem cells that give raise to corneal epithelial progenitor cells (Stem Cells). Other discoveries were related to showing that activation of antioxidant defense with Sulforaphane, can arrest endothelial cell apoptosis seen in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.

Bruce Ksander, Ph.D.

Bruce Ksander, Ph.D.

The Ksander Lab purified a population of limbal stem cells from human cadaveric donors that restored and maintaining the corneal epithelium.

Kameran Lashkari, M.D.

Kameran Lashkari, M.D.

Using multi-dimensional vector equations the Lashkari Lab has been able to derive equations based on cytokine levels specific to an ocular disease condition.  These vector equations have been previously applied to physical phenomenon such as the theory of relativity (manuscript under preparation).

Gang Luo, Ph.D.

Gang Luo, Ph.D.

The Luo Lab released a free iPhone app that can help visually impaired people see things clearly, receiving many positive comments from low vision specialists and patients. In addition, they have developed a pocket-sized collision warning device that can alert visually impaired people about collision risk; evaluation experiments show its effectiveness for all patients tested so far.

Balaraj Menon, Ph.D.

Balaraj Menon, Ph.D.

Discovered that certain epidemic conjunctivitis-causing strains of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae harbor atypical and more potent forms of a zinc metalloproteinase Microb. Pathology, which is a virulence factor that, by cleaving the extracellular domain of the membrane-associated mucin MUC16, disrupts the glycocalyx barrier of the ocular surface epithelium.

Eric Ng, Ph.D.

Eric Ng, Ph.D.

The Ng team defined a critical neuroprotective function of endogenous VEGF-A for the neuroretina in an experimental model of ocular hypertension glaucoma.

Eli Peli, O.D.

Eli Peli, O.D.

The Peli Lab invented a new optical element called multiplexing prism.  This element enables a number of new devices to expand the visual field of patients with various conditions. They were awarded one grant to pursue one of these applications, and are applying for others.

Magali Saint Geniez, Ph.D.

Magali Saint Geniez, Ph.D.

Sodium-iodate (NaIO3)-induced retinal toxicity is a widely used animal model of retinal degeneration associated with regional loss of RPE (similar to dry AMD). The Saint-Geniez Lab recently demonstrated evidences of direct NaIO3 toxicity on photoreceptors preceding RPE loss. The findings are of significant importance for the proper interpretation of experiments testing neuroprotective approaches such as RPE replacement strategies in this model.

Joan Stein-Streilein, Ph.D.

Joan Stein-Streilein, Ph.D.

The Stein-Streilein group showed that inoculation of retinal antigen-pulsed TolAPC (autologous) interfered with the progression of Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU,) opening the way into studies that may lead to a novel therapy for human Uveitis. Published in Clinical and Experimental Immunology (In Press).    

David Sullivan, Ph.D.

David Sullivan, Ph.D.

The Sullivan Lab discovered that lubricin, the body’s extraordinary anti-friction protein, is made by human ocular surface tissues. Lubricin may play a critical role in protecting against shear stress and the development of ocular surface damage, which is a complication of dry eye, contact lens wear, refractive surgery and autoimmune diseases.

Luk H. Vandenberghe, Ph.D.

Luk H. Vandenberghe, Ph.D.

As described in a 2013 publication in Plos One, the Vandenberghe Lab identified a novel adeno-associated viral vector (AAV) for retinal gene therapy that efficiently targets cone photoreceptors in the primate retina. These findings provide insight in the mechanism of cell targeting of AAV in the subretinal space and have implications for the development of diseases affecting cones and the macula.

Russell Woods, Ph.D.

Russell Woods, Ph.D.

The Woods Lab has developed and is testing a novel, objective measure of the quality of sensory information acquisition and recall that uses natural language responses.  In our current use, they assess the impact of vision impairment on the ability to acquire information about a video, and the effects of video enhancements.

Michael Young, Ph.D.

Michael Young, Ph.D.

a major accomplishment of the Young lab is designation of our retinal stem cell project with orphan stays by the FDA and european agencies.  This will allow us to more easily obtain approval for application of these cells to patients with retinitis pigmentosa. 

James Ziekse, Ph.D.

James Ziekse, Ph.D.James Ziekse, Ph.D.

The Zieske Lab demonstrated that corneal restoration is strikingly compromised by a penetrating incision in thrombospondin-1 mice. The wound results in persistent edema and wound gaping. This appears to be the result of the lack of endothelial migration and Descemets membrane restoration.