Dr. Machelle Pardue



  • Atlanta Vision Research Community brings 35 presentations to ARVO 2023

    Emory Eye Center researcher Dr. Hans Grossniklaus will preside as 2023 ARVO President at the New Orleans meeting

    Below is a list of the presentations that will be made by Emory Eye Center researchers and their colleagues from the Atlanta Vision Research Community (AVRC).

    2023 AVRCpresentation schedule

    Download a PDF here

    The Department of Ophthalmology welcomes Machelle T. Pardue, PhD to lead Research Division

    Machelle T. Pardue, PhD, has been named the vice chair and director for research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine. Pardue will lead a new strategic research vision for translational and clinical research for the department, which is associated with the Emory Eye Center.

    Pardue's appointment formally commenced January 1, 2023

    Pardue comes to this new role from the School of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of Emory and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she conducted research, taught, and served as the associate chair of faculty development (2020-22) and as the interim chair (2021-22). At Emory, she will now join the faculty as an associate professor of ophthalmology.

    Pardue's research focuses on developing clinically relevant treatments for retinal disease that can make a difference in the quality of life of patients. Her specific interests are in developing novel screening and treatment strategies for early-stage diabetic retinopathy, elucidating mechanisms of myopia, and developing neuroprotective strategies for retinal degenerations.

    We are very fortunate to have been able to recruit a scientist of her caliber to lead our research forward, said Dr. Allen D. Beck, the F Phinizy Calhoun Sr Department Chair, who oversaw the national search. In Dr. Pardue, we have a colleague whose abiding commitment to collaboration and translational medical research are perfectly aligned with our mission

    In her new role as vice chair and director for research, Pardue will oversee the strategic research vision for the department and the recruitment of new research faculty for its research mission. She has extensive experience mentoring students, junior faculty, research fellows and laboratory personnel.

    Pardue's hire supports the department's commitment to vision research at Emory and in the larger Atlanta Vision Research Community (AVRC), an alliance of faculty and researchers from Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Atlanta VA HealthCare system. The AVRC jointly sponsors clinical research seminars throughout the year and actively supports collaborative interactions between AVRC institutions.

    Pardue is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. She has been awarded more than $18 million in direct research funding to support her research efforts. She is a firm believer that collaborative research is essential to translate results from bench to bedside. This is reflected in the fact that more than 78 percent of her 132 publications are derived from collaborations with more than 80 different investigators. Her findings have formed the basis for translational studies to human patients in three critical areas: (1) retinal prosthetics, (2) diabetic retinopathy, and (3) neuroprotection using TUDCA, L-DOPA or exercise.

    Pardue received her bachelor of science in zoology from the University of Wyoming and her doctorate in vision science and biology from the University of Waterloo. Pardue also has a joint appointment as Senior Research Career Scientist at the Atlanta VA Healthcare System and will maintain an adjunct position in biomedical engineering.

    Focus on Glaucoma Research:
    Andrew J. Feola, Ph.D.

    A team of researchers headed up by Emory Eye Center researcher, Andrew Feola Ph.D., is investigating a hormonal link to glaucoma that could open doors to more effective treatment and prevention options. Under the auspices of a 5-year, $1.25 million National Institutes of Health grant and a 5-year, $800,000 Veterans Administration grant, Feola, an assistant professor in the Emory Medical School, is probing the connection between estrogen deficiencies and glaucoma - the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.

    "A majority of glaucoma patients are female, so this is very much a womens health issue,“ said Feola, whose research combines training in hormones, biomechanics, and computational modeling with visual function and optic nerve head imaging.

    "But its found that the risk of developing glaucoma in both men and women may be linked to mutations in estrogen receptors and polymorphisms in the estrogen metabolic pathway. This research could widen our understanding of that link, which will benefit both genders."

    The NIH grant supports Feolas investigation of how intraocular pressure (IOP) - a known risk factor for glaucoma - is affected by menopause relative to natural aging. Modest elevations in IOP are linked to the onset of menopause, when estrogen levels begin to decrease. And estrogen-based hormone therapy has been shown to reduce IOP.

    "There is a lot of data suggesting that the age of menopause, menopause itself, and a persons estrogen levels influence glaucoma risk by increasing or decreasing the IOP, but the mechanisms are still unknown," explains Feola.

    Researchers in the NIH project will focus in on the possibility that altered estrogen levels impact aqueous outflow resistance, which correlates with IOP. They hope to understand the degree that the eye becomes more resistant to the outward flow of fluid. Researchers will also examine how the regulation of this outflow is controlled by trabecular meshwork (TM), a section of tissue located around the base of the cornea.

    "We are hypothesizing that menopause increases IOP through the stiffening of different segments of the TM," he said.

    The Veterans Administration grant will allow researchers to focus on how estrogen deficiency alters ocular biomechanical properties. Researchers will also observe a case of experimental glaucoma to see how estrogen deficiency impacts the process of vision loss, and, conversely, whether estrogen therapy is protective in both male and female rats.

    "This treatment could complement current glaucoma treatments to help slow the progression of vision loss in glaucoma," Feola explained.

    Before joining the EEC research staff in the fall of 2021, Andrew Feola worked as a research biologist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and as a research scientist in the School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University. He earned his bachelors and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, where his graduate research focused on the biomechanical properties of pelvic tissues at different points in pregnancy, postpartum and hormonal status.

  • About EEC Research

    Groundbreaking, multidisciplinary basic science and clinical research at Emory Eye Center focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. Our research program is highly respected; our researchers are pioneers in new developments in vision care.

    The Eye Center established the Laboratory for Eye Research, the first of its kind in the Southeast in 1964. The early laboratory housed leading scientists who conducted research on the causes and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts.

    A number of “firsts” have occurred at the Eye Center, many during the past 20 years: pivotal clinical trials, innovative treatments and procedures for numerous vision disorders.

    Todays research goal is the translation of laboratory findings into treatments for eye diseases and for the prevention of blindness. Our researchers have a profound commitment to studying age-related macular degeneration. Laboratory and clinical research includes antioxidants, new drug delivery systems, retinal cell transplantation, gene therapy, and retinal translocation surgery.

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