By Michael Szkarlat, Partner Development Director
We were joined by three recent Eye & Vision Research Grant recipients to update us on their research work in the field of ophthalmology.
First up was Elizabeth Berger, PhD, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Wayne State University. Dr. Berger’s research is focused on the effects of hyperglycemia on the barrier function of the corneal epithelium. She reviews the prevalence of diabetes in the population and its health complications, including ocular manifestations ultimately focusing on the effects of hyperglycemia on the corneal epithelium.
Dr. Berger discusses the physiology of two molecules important to maintaining normal corneal epithelial function, thymosin β4 and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). She concluded by presenting data collected as part of her research project that demonstrated the ability of these molecules to prevent barrier function, cell migration and wound healing changes in cultured ex vivo corneal epithelium in a hyperglycemic environment.
Next, we hear from Magdalena Ivanova, PhD, an Associate Professor of Research in the department of Neurobiology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. Dr. Ivanova begins by discussing the role of mutations involving transforming growth factor-beta-induced protein (TGFBIp)—also known as ig-h3—in seven different corneal dystrophies. Her research hypothesis is that because aberrant aggregation of TGFBIp is associated with corneal opacification, that stabilizing the protein or inhibiting the aggregation can slow or stop progression of these dystrophies.
Dr. Ivanova reviews the normal protein structure and the parthenogenesis in the setting of mutation, as well as the routes for potential therapy. Since this is an extracellular protein, her research is focused on topical treatments. She describes the details of her research from culturing the protein in both its wild type and mutant forms as well as their identification via assay. Dr. Ivanova previews the next steps in her research on this topic.
Lastly, we hear from Sarah Sunshine, MD, an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Sunshine’s investigation concerns the role of Granzyme B in graft versus host disease (GVHD). She begins with an overview of the incidence of GVHD as well as the mortality rates and then provides a breakdown of the ocular manifestations of GVHD and their impact on quality of life.
Dr. Sunshine reviews the available, but limited, treatment options for ocular GVHD and the work being done at the University of Maryland to identify the underlying parthenogenesis in ocular GVHD and how that can translate to new therapies. The current talk is focused on the role of Granzyme B in this. Dr. Sunshine presents her hypothesis and experimental model for investigation in mice. She concludes by discussing the directions of future research and translating this into clinical practice.
The webinar ends with a brief question and answer session.
- The role of granzyme B in the pathenogenesis of ocular graft versus host disease (GVHD) with Dr. Sunshine
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Michael has been with Eversight since 2016 and has recently worked to develop Eversight's educational wet lab programs for EK surgery and a standardized protocol for DALK practice in a wet lab setting. His eye banking experience is rooted in the preparation of corneal grafts and spent nearly five years as Eversight’s Medical Director designee in charge of training clinical team members to prepare corneal tissue for DMEK and DSAEK surgery. In his time at Eversight, Michael has presented at scientific conferences, been involved in clinical research and developed innovations in tissue processing. He was named an IAPB Eye Heath Hero in the innovations category. Michael is passionate about community-based eye banking and honoring the precious gift that is donation. When not at work, he enjoys traveling with his wife and baking artisan sourdough bread.