The basic and translational research division of the Department of Ophthalmology consists of more than a dozen scientists, both professional and student, working on novel and innovative discoveries in vision research.
Basic and Translational Science Researchers
Ashay D. Bhatwadekar, PhD, MPHARM
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
The Bhatwadekar Lab studies how early changes in the retinal cellular network leads to the diabetic retinopathy. Pioneering studies in the lab demonstrated that circadian rhythms similar to sleep-wake cycle are abnormal in the retina in case of diabetic retinopathy. Future studies are aimed at restoring abnormal circadian rhythm to correct the vision problems. Additional focuses include pharmacy outcome research.
The Corson Lab studies: neovascularization; abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye, which is a key feature of diseases like age-related macular degeneration; diabetic retinopathy; retinopathy of prematurity; and cancers of the eye. The lab is interested in finding new pathways that regulate blood vessel growth and targeting these with new chemicals that could be the basis for drugs; and working with collaborators to formulate and test potential therapies.
In the study of glaucoma, the Das Lab has developed methods to make human optic nerve cells in a Petri dish. The unavailability of human optic nerve cells for research is the major roadblock for developing therapy. The lab discovered that cleaning up damaged mitochondria by lysosomes is essential for human optic nerve survival and is investigating medicines required to protect human optic nerve using patient derived cells.
Led by a clinician-scientist who specializes in the surgical and medical treatment of retinal diseases, the Hajrasouliha Lab is focused on signals inside the cells that play a role in the formation of abnormal blood vessel and incorporating new technology for advanced retinal surgery. The lab's main goal is to identify inflammatory markers responsible for the development of retinal disease, including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachment.
The Imanishi Lab solved several critical questions regarding the mechanisms of maintaining healthy retina and vision, elevating the understanding, treatment and diagnosis of blinding diseases. He developed new technologies to study the renewal of proteins and light-sensitive structures in the eye. He invented a new method for drug discovery.
Research in the Mao Lab focuses on glaucoma and retinal ganglion cells patients lose that transmit visual signals from the eye to the brain. The research team found that cell signaling changes elevate high eye pressure, which kills retinal ganglion cells and causes glaucoma. Currently, the lab is working on understanding the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in the trabecular meshwork tissue.
The Pattabiraman Lab is studying the molecular mechanisms involved in achieving a normalcy in intraocular pressure as a cure for glaucoma and understanding what goes wrong to cause increased ocular pressure that causes glaucoma. Researchers also study the racial disparity in the preponderance of glaucoma in African Americans compared to Caucasian population.
The Sharma lab focuses on intraocular and intracranial pressure associated pathogenesis, generation of patient specific neuronal cells, disease modeling of central nervous system diseases, and neuroprotection/regeneration therapeutics. The current aim is developing a range of new glaucoma therapeutics for neuroprotection and pharmacological manipulations of degenerative pathways in glaucoma. Studies identify pathways or molecules that can best be treated with drugs that are beyond intraocular pressure suppression and instead focus on survival of retinal ganglion cells. The lab also works with the Translaminar Autonomous System.