John D. Ash
Dr. Ash is focused on both understanding the cause of blindness due to retinal degeneration and developing therapies to prevent loss of sight. His research is relevant to inherited retinal degenerations such as retinitis pigmentosa, cone-rod dystrophies, LCA, or age related macular degeneration.
Dr. Basso conducts research on the proteomics and lipidomics of dry eye disease and Meibomian gland disease. As the director of the Mass Spectrometry Research and Education Center at the University of Florida, she provides a valuable resource to complex research needs through access to a wide variety of mass spectrometry instruments and bioinformatics tools.
Mr. Boye’s research area is focused on two things: the design, construction and utilization of AAV-based gene therapy vectors for the treatment of ocular disease, and the evaluation of efficacy, biodistribution and toxicity of clinically relevant AAV vectors.
Shannon E. Boye
Dr. Boye is developing a gene-replacement therapy for patients with Leber congenital amaurosis-1 (LCA1) caused by mutations in the gene GUCY2D. Lifetime restoration of visual behavior in animal models of the disease has been demonstrated and there is hope that this will be the first photoreceptor-targeted gene therapy to be applied in a clinical setting. She also seeks to expand the AAV ‘toolkit’ by developing novel AAV vectors capable of transducing photoreceptors following intravitreal injection as well as dual vector platforms capable of delivering large genes. In addition, Dr. Boye is developing bipolar-targeted gene therapies for the treatment of congenital stationary night blindness.
Dr. Deng is working to characterize proteins of phototransduction pathway to elucidate their contributions to the different functional properties between rods and cones and with recombinant AAV mediated gene therapy on mutation caused by Retinitis Pigmentosa GTPase Regulator (RPGR).
Dr. Dinculescu’s research is focused on developing therapeutic approaches for Usher syndrome type III (USH3A), an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in Clarin-1 (CLRN1) gene, leading to combined blindness and deafness. She is also interested in the pathological processes affecting the retinal pigment epithelium /Bruch’s membrane interface, and identifying the factors contributing to drusen formation in age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Gibson’s research focuses on the cellular and molecular time lines of wound healing, with a focus on understanding the roles and timing of cells, growth factors, and the matrix have on wound healing outcomes. In particular, he is now studying the events which lead healing wounds to stall and become chronic wounds, and what causes surgical wounds on the corneas to heal via either regenerative healing or to become vision impairing scars.
Dr. Hauswirth has a long-term interest in the delivery and testing of potentially therapeutic genes for dominant, recessive and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, Leber congenital amaurosis, achromatopsia, blue cone monochromacy, Usher’s disease, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and optic neuropathies in natural and transgenic animal models of each human disease.
Dr. Keil’s research aims to increase our understanding of how sensory systems support adaptive behavior in complex, rapidly changing environments. Using behavioral, physiological, and brain imaging methods, Dr. Keil and his colleagues study how our perception of the physical world changes depending on our internal states and goals. On a methodological level, we are interested in developing and validating methods to quantify human oscillatory brain activity measured on the scalp, using Electroencephalography. Together with our colleagues at the University of Florida College of Engineering, we are conducting simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings, exploring the temporal and spatial dynamics of the human brain during tasks that challenge perception, attention, and emotion.
Joseph Larkin III
The Larkin Group is investigating the contribution of T lymphocyte subsets and functions in maintaining tolerance, with a specific emphasis on Regulatory T cells (Tregs). The group has a current interest in modulating T lymphocyte effector functions that promote autoimmune diseases such as uveitis.
Dr. Lewin’s laboratory has made a long-term commitment to developing gene therapy for inherited genetic diseases. Most of his work has focused on developing gene therapies for inherited or acquired diseases of the retina, including retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Li’s research focus is to study the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and develop therapies for treating DR.
Dr. Plummer works on the pharmacology and ocular drug delivery and penetration, particularly in small animals. Her specialties include equine corneal disease, primary open angle glaucoma in the dog, developing new surgical techniques for equine corneal disease, and corneal wound.
Dr. Schultz’s lab focuses on understanding the molecular regulation of wound healing in the cornea and conjunctiva, and data indicate two growth factors, transforming growth factor beta (TGFb) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) play key roles in normal and excessive scarring. They are developing gene-specific therapies to selectively reduce excessive scarring with antisense oligonucleotides, siRNAs and ribozymes that target TGFb and CTGF mRNAs and are developing epigenetic approaches with histone deacethylase inhibitors to also reduce scarring.
The Scott lab is attempting to elucidate factors required for lineage commitment during blood cell development. Of particular interest are transcription factors thought to influence lymphoid and myeloid differentiation.
During the first year of life, infants learn about the sights and sounds in their surrounding world. They learn to tell their mother and father from strangers, and to recognize familiar and sometimes comforting objects. Similarly, adults acquire perceptual expertise through professional training. For example, radiologists train to be highly skilled at analyzing radiological scans or bird watchers become very good at identifying and differentiating different species of birds. But how does this learning happen? What aspects of the environment or training are important? Is perceptual learning as an adult different than an infant? Researchers in our lab are working to answer these questions and to better understand how the brain supports learning throughout the lifespan. Our research uses a variety of methods, including measures of brain responses, eye-movements and fixations, and behavioral responses. The overarching goal of our research is to advance understanding of how experience guides and shapes learning during the course of typical development and through training.
Dr. Semple-Rowland’s laboratory studies the vertebrate retina from several perspectives. Photoreceptors serve as the focal point in many of their experiments. They examine the genes and proteins underlying normal photoreceptor function and how the expression of these molecules changes during development and over the course of disease. They are currently focusing on studies of LCA1 and on studies of circadian oscillators in photoreceptors.
Dr. Sherwood’s research focuses on wound healing in glaucoma, new methods of delivering gene therapy for the retina, and methods to improve early detection of glaucoma.
W. Clay Smith
The Smith lab focuses on the cellular and molecular biology of signaling processes in rod and cone photoreceptors. These cascades are being explored for their potential use in preventing photoreceptor death in retinal degenerations that occur in later decades of life.
Stephen P. Sugrue
The long-term goal of research in the Sugrue lab is to elucidate the molecular determinants of the regulation of corneal epithelial cell phenotype.
Dr. Tuli is the Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Tuli focuses on two basic areas in basic science: corneal scarring after excimer laser and wounds and Herpes simplex keratitis – prevention of initial infection and recurrence.