On doing Science well.

As for many biomedical, basic-science research labs, my research flows and changes over time as we make new discoveries that lead us to new questions we form even as we uncover the answers to previous questions. That is the nature of basic science, and it is the way science investigation has always brought the most benefits to people and medicine in particular. While many organizations and countries have attempted to focus research support (funding) into specific diseases, it turns out that the overwhelming majority of high-impact medical discoveries have come from “serendipity”. That is, great useful ideas and tools were discovered to treat diseases simply by exploring how things work.

For example, drugs for controlling high cholesterol were not discovered by deciding to start making drugs for treating high cholesterol. In the course of biochemists investigating how our cells make cholesterol in the first place, chemicals were used to block enzymes to help figure out how cholesterol was made. Some of these chemicals were obviously the idea to become new drugs that could block cholesterol made in the body. Latanoprost, one of the later generation of drugs developed in the ’80s for reducing high intraocular pressure (IOP), was based on the discovery that prostaglandins made by some cells in the eye could increase the aqueous outflow in the eye, and reduce pressure. The basic science was elucidated in animal models. Again, a basic science discovery in the laboratory of physiologist Laszlo Bito at Columbia University was adopted by a Pharma company as the way to make drugs that mimic natural prostaglandins to produce this new class of drugs. As a result, thousands of people around the world have another class of drugs to reduce their intraocular pressure and reduce their risk of vision loss from Glaucoma.

So, you never really know where benefits will arise for biomedicine. That is why many research funding agencies, such as the NIH (USA) and the MRC (UK), understand the importance of funding physiologists and biochemists to explore how things work. In our case, how things work in the eye, and the retina of the eye.


Ken Mitton


Don’t Use PubMed as a Journal Whitelist

An important post from the Scholarly Open Access blog by Jeffrey Beall, University of Colorado. Why you cannot trust many publications in PubMed searches these days, but how to confirm trusted journal list by limiting your searching to just Medline. Know the difference. Peer-reviewed science journals appearing in the Medline database are curated by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

There is very little requirement for a journal to get its content indexed in the PubMed database however, and there is no curation process by the NLM.

OU students focus on eye diseases during summer research program

Our SUPER program is getting lots of kind coverage in the media this summer for which we are thankful.

Automation Alley
Rochester Patch
Rochester Media

Thank YOU…

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.