Research & Publications
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness over the age of 55, affecting 30-50 million people globally. Despite several advances over the last decade, there are significant limitations to treatments available for patients with advanced geographic atrophy (GA) which is characterized by a complete loss of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and degeneration of photoreceptors. In patients with advanced GA, restoration of vision will require transplantation of new RPE into the bed of atrophy. Stem cells are an excellent source of cells for replacement therapy given the limited reservoir of donor cells for RPE transplantation strategies, lack of regeneration of photoreceptors, and variation in success of autografts. The overall goal of my work is to develop techniques and tools that allow for the generation of RPE and/or retinal photoreceptors cells from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). My projects focus on the identification and use of extracellular matrix (ECM) to direct stem cell differentiation into retinal neurons or RPE cell lineage. Previous study in our laboratory has shown that human Bruch’s membrane can direct differentiation of stem cells toward a RPE and/or photoreceptor fate. Techniques that allow for the combining of transcription factors involved in RPE/photoreceptor development with ECM factors to influence the differentiation of stem cell into a neuronal fate will be applied. The identification of ECM proteins may also assist future scaffold design to support the differentiation and maintenance of RPE.
Education & Training
- PhDPierre et Marie Curie University (Paris VI), Retinal diseases (2006)
- MDShanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine (1997)