News Releases

March 29, 2019
Media Contact: Leigh DeLozier, 404-778-3711

P. Michael Iuvone, PhD., director, Vision Research, with his research core team
Yi Ling, PhD, Dr. Eldon Geisert, PhD, and Jiaxing Wang, MD, PhD, go over recent finding that identify the cells in the eye that are the most sensitive to glaucoma in the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (Bioanalysis) Core Laboratory at Emory Eye Center.  This work may lead to methods for early detection of glaucoma and an understanding of why the cells connecting the eye to the brain die. 

Emory Eye Center Research Team Prepares for ARVO 2019 Conference Presentations

(Atlanta) – Emory Eye Center researchers and research staff are preparing for numerous presentations that will be shared during the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2018 annual meeting in Vancouver April 28-May 2.

Presentation highlights from the conference will include:

  • Faculty researcher Eldon E. Geisert, PhD, will speak on “POU6F2 modulates corneal thickness and susceptibility to injury in directionally selective on-off retinal ganglion cells.” Previous study identified POU6F2 as a gene modulating central corneal thickness (CCT) in the mouse. Now the team’s data identify POU6F2 as a factor contributing to the correlation between CCT and risk for developing glaucoma with POU6F2 being expressed in on-off directionally selective cells.

  • Hans E. Grossniklaus, MD, director of Ocular Oncology and Pathology at the Emory Eye Center, will present “BAP1 immunoreactivity correlates with gene expression class in uveal melanoma.” His work has shown that evaluation of nuclear BAP1-IHC in enucleated eyes with uveal melanoma is a reasonable alternative to GEP for predicting metastasis.

  • T. Michael Redmond, a former postdoctoral student of EEC researcher John M. Nickerson, PhD, will be presenting his work as part of a group that won the Champalimaud Award for the first successful gene therapy in LCA2 with RPE65 gene augmentation. Redmond currently serves as chief of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology at NEI/NIH.

  • Preston Girardot of Jeffrey H. Boatright, PhD’s lab will present an initial description of a mouse model of pentosan polyphosphate (PPS) retina toxicity. An animal model is critical to determining why chronic treatment with PPS, which is FDA-approved for treatment of interstitial cystitis, is associated with retinal macular damage (an original finding of Emory Eye Center vitreoretinal surgeon and ophthamic geneticist, Nieraj Jain, MD, published last year).

  • Jana Sellers will present mechanistic data on exercise-induced retinal protection. Activation of a specific kinase (called “GSK3beta”) in the retina and other brain regions appears to mediate neurodegeneration. Suppression of this kinase prevents or protects against these degenerations. We find that modest treadmill running protects mice from retinal degeneration. Bringing together these two findings, the new data being presented at ARVO suggest that this exercise-induced protection may involve suppression of GSK3beta.

  • Xian “Eacho” Zhang will present data showing that voluntary exercise (i.e., running on wheels) protects photoreceptor morphology and function in a new mouse model of B2 retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Her data also suggest exercise preserves the health of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which are the cells that are initially damaged in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

  • Micah Chrenek will present an initial description of a new animal model of retinal degeneration. Light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD) in rats or mice is one of the most studied models of retinal damage. Typically, albino animals are used because they are more sensitive to light damage. It was long thought that pigment in the RPE of pigmented strains prevented light damage, making pigmented mice less sensitive to LIRD. However, recent data from researcher Jeffrey H. Boatright’s team indicate that a mutation in a visual cycle gene in commonly-used pigmented mouse strains is actually what causes the lack of light sensitivity. Micah will report that transgenic pigmented mice that have had this mutation removed are sensitive to light and that they easily undergo LIRD. Thus, these mice will be useful for studies of retinal function in the context of fully active retinal cycling.

  • Shuo Zhang will give an oral presentation of the research she conducted in the lab of P. Michael Iuvone, PhD.  The work focuses on the role of cone photoreceptor Connexin-36 in light adaptation and circadian regulation of the photopic ERG. She also was awarded with an ARVO travel fellowship to attend the conference.

A special milestone for Emory Eye Center researchers during ARVO will be the 25th consecutive dinner and editorial board meeting (and 25th anniversary of) Molecular Vision journal. Molecular Vision was launched by Emory Eye Center researchers as the first electronic medical journal. It also was the first (and is still the only) journal out of more than 35,000 journals worldwide that is open access and does not charge authors or readers to submit or read content.

ARVO is the largest and most respected eye and vision research organization in the world, with a membership comprised of nearly 12,000 researchers from more than 75 countries. The annual meeting is a time to share discoveries that might lead to treatments for those with eye disorders or diseases.

Emory Eye Center faculty and staff have been involved with ARVO for many years, including serving in various capacities. Currently, Dr. Grossniklaus is an ARVO Trustee and Dr. Boatright is on the ARVO Board of Governors.


About Emory Eye Center’s Research Program

From its inception in 1964, Emory Eye Center’s scientific research laboratory has been home to award-winning scientists who dedicate their lives to understanding catastrophic eye diseases that affect people worldwide. Their scientific discoveries have significantly contributed to treatments for patients with conditions such as eye cancer, hereditary cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, and more.  


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