Jeffrey M. Gross, PhD

Dr. Jeffrey Gross is the E. Ronald Salvitti Chair in Ophthalmology Research in the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and the Vice-Chair and Director of Research.  He is also the Director of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration and of the Ocular Development, Disease, and Regeneration Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Prior to his 2015 appointment at Pitt, Dr. Gross was a Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology & Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.

Dr. Gross’s research program focuses on ocular development, disease, and regeneration, and utilizes the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a model system for most of the lab’s studies. The zebrafish is an ideal model through which genes necessary for visual system development, function, and regeneration can been identified. Zebrafish embryos are transparent during early development and their eyes are large and easily accessible. Furthermore, eye development in zebrafish is analogous to that observed in other vertebrate embryos, and their eyes are structurally similar to the human eye, thereby providing an excellent model system in which one can address fundamental aspects of eye development. Indeed, many disrupted genes and pathways identified as integral to the formation of the zebrafish eye produce phenotypes that resemble disorders of the human visual system. Thus, characterization of the molecular mechanisms of eye development in zebrafish promises to facilitate a better understanding of these human pathologies. Moreover, the zebrafish regenerates its retina and retinal pigment epithelium after injury making this an ideal system through which the molecular underpinnings of the regenerative process can be elucidated, and potential therapies developed and/or tested. The lab’s goals are to understand the epigenetic regulation of retinal development from progenitor cell to differentiated neuron, and the molecular underpinnings of retinal pigment epithelium regeneration.  Dr. Gross’s research foci include: morphogenesis of the eye; colobomata; genetic and epigenetic regulation of retinal development and regeneration; and retinal pigment epithelium development and regeneration.

Current funding for Dr. Gross’s research includes: National Institutes of Health RO1-EY29410: Elucidating the Molecular Underpinnings of Endogenous RPE Regeneration; National Institutes of Health R21-EY28272: Role of RNAi factor DUSP11 in ocular biology and disease; National Institutes of Health RO1-EY29031: DNA Methylation and Hydroxymethylation During Retinal Development and Stem Cell Maintenance; National Institutes of Health T32-EY17271: Interdisciplinary Visual Sciences Training Program; and National Institutes of Health P30-EY08098: Core Grant for Vision Research.

Dr. Gross is a member of the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America, the American Association for Vision and Ophthalmology, and the International Society for Eye Research.  He also serves as an Associate Editor, BMC Developmental Biology, and an Editorial Board Member, Developmental Dynamics.

View a list of Dr. Gross’s publications here.