Research is a major component of the Department of Ophthalmology and it encompasses both the basic and clinical sciences. The second floor of the Mason Eye Institute is totally devoted to research laboratories and support facilities. Additionally, there is research space at the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital across the street. Four PhD researchers hold faculty appointments in the Department of Ophthalmology and are responsible for research efforts in the basic sciences. Research interests within the department are diverse and cover a wide range of ophthalmologic problems.
Basic Science Research
Rick Fraunfelder, MD, Xu Han, MD, and Erica Ballard, MD were recently awarded a $25,000 Coulter Grant to support their research on corneal tissue cryopreservation.
The cornea is an ideal candidate for gene therapy due to its immune-privilege status, accessibility and easy visual monitoring. Corneal haze, scarring and neovascularization are among the leading causes of vision impairment in the world and affect approximately 1.5 million Americans every year. Abnormal wound healing due to corneal injury or infection has been shown to play a critical role in causing these and other corneal disorders and diseases. The research in the laboratory of Rajiv Mohan, PhD, is primarily focused in developing tissue-targeted selective gene therapy approaches for preventing/treating corneal disorders, diseases and dystrophies, and studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in corneal wound healing. More...
It has been hypothesized that chaperone-like activity of crystallin is responsible for maintaining lens clarity and transparency in vivo. The truncation of the alpha crystallin decreases its chaperone-like activity. Krishna Sharma, PhD is investigating the role of site specific lens proteases and peptide hydrolases in truncation and alteration of alpha crystallin chaperone activity. More...
Dean Hainsworth, MD is involved in several research projects. The AREDS 2 trial is an NIH sponsored clinical trial to determine whether Lutein/Zeaxanthin or Fish Oil would further decreased the risk of choroidal neovascularization in patients with AMD. The DCCT/EDIC is a long term NIH sponsored trial following patients with type 1 diabetes to further determine benefits of careful glucose control including examining the development of retinopathy. The DEGAS is a Pfizer sponsored trial to determine whether injecting a study drug (siRNA to inhibit expression of hypoxia inducible gene) improves diabetic macular edema. Dr. Hainsworth is also exploring the use of gold nano-particles as a platform to deliver anti-angiogenic drugs to specific targets in th eye as a potential treatment for ocular neovascularization.
The research and clinical portions of the department are integrated in various ways. The basic sciences are included in the resident teaching conferences each year. Segments of this portion are taught by all departmental researchers. Bi-weekly research seminars are held featuring speakers from both within and outside of the university.
For additional research conducted by the faculty, please visit our faculty listing.
Investigators are encouraged to stay connected with their colleagues across MU and beyond by using the scientific social networking tool BioMedExperts. This free site for biomedical scientists supports opportunities for creative and collaborative research by allowing investigators to find and link to each other through a variety of search mechanisms and profiles generated with the support of PubMed.