Professor & Scientist researching Vascular Disease Mechanisms in Retinopathy of Prematurity, Diabetic Retinopathy, AMD. ISER member, ARVO Fellow, Immediate Past President OU-AAUP, Member ARVO Animals in Research Committee, Faculty Director ERI Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research.
• Norrin treatment accelerates recovery of the mouse OIR model from ischemic insult.
• SD-OCT can compare NFL/GCL (nerve fiber layer/ganglion cell layer) thickness in vivo.
• Norrin treatment counters thinning of the NFL/GCL in the mouse OIR model.
• Norrin treatment increases the surviving population density of RGCs in OIR retinas.
This paper is one of the first to use the in vivo imaging methods of intrinsic fluorescence with a transgenic mouse strain to see individual ganglion cells in the living mouse eye, and to even follow their morphology over a period of many days in the mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. This was done with a Phoenix Research Labs‘ system, in this case the Micron-III version of their imaging system. We used a light filter set recommended by Phoenix to image yellow-fluorescent protein (YFP). Axons and dentrites could be seen on single cells in anesthetized mice. Amazing!
We also employed SD-OCT (Spectral Domain – Optical Coherence Tomography) to capture 3D structural records of the mouse retina and then to measure the changes in thickness of the very thin Nerve Fiber Layer / Ganglion Cell Layer (NFL/GCL).
The ability to use these imaging systems in vivo, which are also used in clinical analysis of the Human retina, enables us to see disease processes as they progress and to use far fewer mice to get the answers to research questions. In this case we were testing the ability of Norrin (Norrie’s Disease Protein) to be used to help avascular regions of retina recover their vasculature more quickly and improve the survival of RGCs (retinal ganglion cells) from the stress of low oxygen. RGCs are the cells that form our optic nerves. Millions of RGCs per eye have axons that extend all the way into connections with our brain. This bundle of a million “wires”, or axons, is the optic nerve.
Our research here and that of other laboratories suggest that Norrin and other agents might have use to maintain a better vasculature in diseases where the blood vessels and capillaries are damaged, such as ROP, Diabetic Retinopathy and AMD.
Our SUPER program is getting lots of kind coverage in the media this summer for which we are thankful.
Good stuff is happening here in Michigan in an Eye Research Institute that is one of the few and oldest doing NIH-funded basic science outside of a faculty of medicine. In addition to the National Eye Institute (NEI) at the NIH, we also benefit from support of a Michigan based private foundation: Vision Research ROPARD Foundation.
Our faculty have to write excellent grant applications that convince peer reviewers to give us money from the same funding pie being snacked on by much larger universities, even though we are a smaller university without the core support facilities that enable research at larger schools.
That makes a good faculty mentor to teach students ,future colleagues, in biomedical research.
Our students will not pay us back, just as we never had to pay back our mentors. They will do what we do now, paying forward to teach a next generation and we expect them to mentor at least seven students in their future careers no matter what their future jobs are.
That is how academic scholarship goes. That is ultimately the most important thing our faculty do here at Oakland University, which is congruent with the philosophy of the American Association of University Professors. We teach students to become lifelong independent problem solvers, self taught students and teachers of the future. That is how things are gradually changed for the better.
This is basically a post on how I got here, to become a professor in the Eye Research Institute of Oakland University, and a scientist who has been lucky enough to discover many new biological mechanisms working in many teams of great researchers. It is also a round about explanation of why paying forward is so important in science and education. Continue reading →