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Basic Science Research

Research Faculty

J. H. Boatright, PhD
Eldon E. Geisert, PhD
P. Michael Iuvone, PhD
John M. Nickerson, PhD
Hua Yang, MD, PhD

From its inception, Emory Eye Center's scientific research laboratory has been home to award-winning scientists who dedicate their lives to understanding the mechanisms of catastrophic eye diseases that afflict people globally. 

Their scientific discoveries have significantly contributed to ophthalmic research knowledge, advancing treatment for patients suffering from eye cancer; hereditary cataract; diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and other retinal degenerative diseases; idiopathic intracranial hypertension, and gene therapy. 

Research projects are conducted in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morehouse College of Medicine and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Our researchers publish the award-winning journal, Molecular Vision, [Founding editor Jeffrey Boatright; Editor in Chief John Nickerson], a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to the dissemination of research results in molecular biology, cell biology and the genetics of the visual system. The journal is rated second in a field of 14 competing journals and is routinely used as an open access exemplar by the National Library of Medicine and The National Institutes of Health Library. The journal is supported by Knights Templar and through initiatives generated in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Research projects are funded by major granting agencies and foundations (NIH, VA, DoD, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Knights Templar), as well as private donations.


Research Scientists

Jeffrey Boatright, PhD

Recent findings by Jeffrey Boatright, in collaboration with researchers at Atlanta VA Medical Center, from a study of an animal model of age-related macular degeneration, are the first to suggest that aerobic exercise can have a direct effect on retinal health and vision.

His laboratory conducts research initiatives on gene therapy and neuroprotection in treatment of retinal degenerative diseases in the expectation that pharmacological neuroprotectants will delay vision loss while gene therapies will provide permanent relief. 

Eldon E. Geisert, PhD

Eldon Geisert is developing new research strategies that he hopes will translate into treatments that may be used on the battlefield and later in the hospital. He is also defining genetic networks associated with the risk of developing glaucoma.  Identifying the genetic differences that lead to glaucoma is the central research goal being addressed by a new $1.5 million grant awarded to him from the NEI.  Geisert affirms that understanding the genetic causes of glaucoma will aid in early detection of individuals at risk for developing the disease, and it may lead to more effective treatments for this blinding disease.

P. Michael Iuvone, PhD

Current Chair ofResearch, Michael Iuvone, studies the impact of circadian rhythms on retinal function.  An ARVO Fellow, Iuvone received the Senior Scientific Investigator Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) in 2010. His laboratory conducts neuroprotective studies examining brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) receptor agonists.  He recently published, Circadian rhythms and Us (with fellow editors Gianluca Tosini, Morehouse College of Medicine, Douglas G. McMahon, Vanderbilt University, and Shaun P. Collin, University of Western Australia.) The book aims to further the study of retinal neurobiology and provide a resource for clinicians on how daily changes in retinal function may influence treatment outcomes. His laboratory's research in collaboration with former Atlanta VA researcher Machelle Pardue, PhD, on the use of dopamine-restoring drugs in the treatment of  diabetic retinopathy was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in January 2014.

John Nickerson, PhD

Director of Research and ARVO Gold Fellow John Nickerson's research centers on retinal degenerative diseases and the genetics behind them. Dr Nickerson studies pharmacological and gene therapy approaches to slowing or preventing these degenerations.

Hua Yang, MD, PhD

Uveal melanoma is the most common malignant ocular tumor in adults. Metastasis results in the high mortality rate after recovery or removal of the primary tumor. Dr. Yang’s research interests are the control of metastatic melanoma from the eye to the liver with anti-angiogenesis and immune modulation therapies and understanding of the mechanisms of metastatic disease and exploration of targeted therapy based on biomarkers for primary and metastatic uveal melanoma.


Additional Websites (Links)

Atlanta Vision Research Community (AVRC)

NEI Vision Core site


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