Support for our endeavors
comes primarily from the
National Institutes of Health

Lens & Cornea: Cataract, Presbyopia & Corneal Dystrophies Investigators

Usha Andley, PhD (Biochemistry)

My laboratory studies the biochemical basis of human cataract formation. Several approaches are being used at understanding the function of alpha-crystallin, a major protein of the lens and a member of the small heat shock protein family of molecular chaperones. This protein, composed of two gene products alpha A and alpha B, plays important roles in the lens and other tissues. Mutations in alpha A and alpha B crystallins form the basis of several hereditary cataracts.

Steven Bassnett, PhD (Cell Biology)

The lens functions to form a sharply focused image on the retina. To do this, it must remain transparent throughout life and flexible enough to allow the eye to accommodate properly. Loss of lens transparency (cataract) is the most common cause of blindness in the world. Age-related 'stiffening'; of the lens affects almost everyone over age 50 and results in an inability to focus on near objects (presbyopia). Studies in my laboratory are aimed at understanding the cellular basis of transparency and accommodation.

David Beebe, PhD (Cell/Developmental Biology)

The Beebe lab is involved in two major areas of research: (1) using conditional gene targeting to determine the functions of transcription factors and growth factor signaling in lens and eye development and (2) identifying the mechanism responsible for and ways to prevent age-related nuclear cataracts and open angle glaucoma.

Andrew J.W. Huang, MD, MPH (Cell Biology)

Dr Huang performs corneal transplantation using the newest techniques at partial-thickness corneal transplant to make use of the body’s own functional tissue, and reduce the chance of rejection from donor corneas.

Nathan Ravi, MS, PhD, MD, FAAO (Biomechanics)

Alan Shiels PhD (Molecular Biology/Genetics)

Our research focuses on the molecular genetic basis of eye diseases including; cataracts, glaucoma and eye movement disorders, utilizing three complimentary approaches. Mapping studies: Genome-wide markers are being used to map and refine chromosomal loci. Mutation studies: Re-sequencing techniques are being used to identify causative mutations and to develop diagnostic genetic tests. Genotype/phenotype studies: Expression techniques are being used to characterize the underlying pathogenetic mechanisms. Results from these studies will improve understanding of eye development in health versus disease and contribute toward the design of gene-based therapeutics that may help treat or prevent common causes of vision impairment.

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The Vision Research Community at Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S.Euclid Ave., St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Campus Box 8096, McMillian Building, St. Louis, Missouri 63110