By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | Current News, Vision | March 19, 2020
Elaine Vitone, PittMed, recently visited with McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Ian Sigal, PhD, Assistant Professor and the founding Director of the Laboratory of Ocular Biomechanics in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Ophthalmology. There she learned about Dr. Sigal’s work and shared her experience in her article (with video), “The Forest, the Trees, and the Leaves.”
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | Current News, Vision | January 29, 2020
UPMC has implanted the first patient in the United States with a new wireless retinal device as part of a clinical trial aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that leads to permanent blindness.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | Current News, Vision | October 23, 2019
In her article, Elaine Vitone, a writer for PittMed, recently laid out the extraordinary activity arising in Pittsburgh in UPMC’s planned vision and rehabilitation hospital in Uptown, near the UPMC Mercy hospital. The nine-story, 410,000 square-foot facility, which was painstakingly designed to spec with both patients and scientists in mind, will be ready for the entire Ophthalmology Department in 2022.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | Current News, Vision | August 14, 2019
The University of Pittsburgh received a $6 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support the development of a cortical vision research program in the Pitt School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology. The program will aim to understand how the eye and the brain work together to help us see the world and use that knowledge to develop new ways to restore vision using various technologies such as brain computer interfaces and novel genetic technologies.
Self-driving cars rely on their ability to accurately “see” the road ahead and make adjustments based on what they see. They need to, for instance, react to a pedestrian who steps out from between parked cars, or know to not turn down a road that is unexpectedly closed for construction. As such technology becomes more ubiquitous, there’s a growing need for a better, more efficient way for machines to process visual information.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | November 28, 2018
Promising first results from the clinical feasibility trial of PRIMA, a wireless retinal implant designed to help restore useful vision in patients with advanced atrophic dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), were presented recently at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2018 annual meeting held in Chicago. The presentation was acknowledged as the “Best Paper” of Retina Session II at the meeting.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | November 20, 2018
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jenny Yu, MD, Vice Chair of Clinical Operations for the Department of Ophthalmology, UPMC Eye Center, a member on the Orbital, Oculoplastic, and Aesthetic Surgery Service, and an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, is a co-founder of Project Theia along with Katie Duncan, MD, MDEyecare LLC. Founded in 2017, Project Theia is a non-profit organization named after the Greek goddess of sight and heavenly light and is focused on
In the Pitt Summer 2018 edition, author Jennie Dorris highlights the career paths of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member James Funderburgh, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Cell Biology & Physiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his wife, Martha Funderburgh, MPH, Lab Manager and Sr. Research Technician, Corneal Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The story provides “an exciting outlook for a research team inspired by personal experience and driven by the desire to help others see a brighter future.”
In the world of ophthalmology, researchers have always made vision restoration by retinal repair their goal. Today, this goal is more obtainable than ever through modern technologies and medical practices, and the first successful procedures have already taken place.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | January 24, 2018
As reported by Madison Brunner for Inside UPMC, inherited retinal degeneration affects about one out of every 2,000 people worldwide and severely impacts quality of life. Due to mutated genes, this disorder causes blindness and currently has no treatment.
In one week in December 2017, Steven Little, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and the William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professor in the Departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Bioengineering, Immunology, and Ophthalmology, and Riccardo Gottardi, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, were co-authors on two publications that were featured on the respective journal covers. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine congratulates these affiliated faculty members on this significant accomplishment. Details follow.
We are pleased to announce the establishment of an interdisciplinary research program in the science of eye transplantation. This unique program in the science of eye transplantation is a joint effort between the Department of Ophthalmology and the Department of Plastic Surgery, and is led by McGowan Institute affiliated faculty member Kia Washington, MD, the director, in coordination with Dr. Sahel. In addition to leveraging the skills and expertise of members of the Departments of Ophthalmology and Plastic Surgery, this innovative program will also include experts in immunology, transplant surgery, the neurosciences, and other related disciplines.
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has entered into an agreement with three world-renowned French research institutions—the University Pierre et Marie Curie of the Sorbonne Universités in Paris, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)—to focus on collaborative research and education in the fields of medicine and biomedical sciences.
The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute has awarded funding to four University of Pittsburgh Innovator teams to help them move their discoveries towards commercialization, where they can make a positive impact on society. The teams were selected by a panel of judges from a pool of two dozen applicants that was narrowed into a group of 10 finalists. Two of the recognized teams include affiliated faculty leadership from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | October 27, 2016
One of the world’s top experts in retinal diseases, who is developing an artificial retina as well as other regenerative therapies to treat blindness and vision impairments, has been named as the chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the UPMC Eye Center, and the Eye and Ear Foundation Chair of Ophthalmology.
The Neural Devices Engineering Laboratory, Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at Carnegie Mellon University, is headed by Senior Systems Scientist Shawn Kelly, PhD, a McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member. At the Neural Devices Engineering Laboratory, Dr. Kelly and his team design and develop novel medical technologies, in particular circuits for neural interfaces. The team primarily designs neural stimulation circuits and inductively-coupled wireless power and data telemetry systems. They also study electrode-tissue interface, as well as the process for inducing nerves to fire, in order to develop optimized, longer-lasting neural interfaces for neural stimulation and recording applications and neuroscience research.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $85,000 to four research groups through its 2015 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. Two of these funding proposals from McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members are for a nanowire glaucoma drainage implant and for bioactive hydrogels for bone regeneration. Details include:
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | January 7, 2016
As reported by Heather Chronis in the Fall 2015 Sight & Sound newsletter of the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, under the direction of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Robert Hendricks, PhD, Joseph F. Novak Professor and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been the recipient of multiple restricted and unrestricted grants from the Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). Founded in 1960 by Dr. Jules Stein, RPB is a national leader in the effort to fund, coordinate, and promote vision research in the United States. From its infancy to today, RPB has advocated at all levels for vision research. RPB restricted and unrestricted grants have helped to launch the careers of countless vision scientists.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | December 18, 2015
As reported by Carrie Fogel in the Fall 2015 Sight & Sound newsletter of the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, while most people anticipate the summer season as a time for vacations and time away from work, that was not the case for McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jeffrey Gross, PhD, the new Director of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration. Dr. Gross arrived in Pittsburgh in late July; a time when many were spending their days on sunny beaches, Dr. Gross was already hard at work setting up his new laboratory in the University of Pittsburgh’s Biomedical Science Tower. Dr. Gross’ research is now conducted at the Charles and Louella Snyder Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration and focuses on ocular development, disease, and regeneration.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | December 11, 2015
As reported by Carrie Fogel in the Fall 2015 Sight & Sound newsletter of the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration is well known for engaging scientists of various backgrounds. Such collaborations help to ensure the success of vision restoration, which is the goal of the unique Ocular Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Ophthalmology (OTERO) Fellowship that is offered each year. Fellows, with backgrounds other than ophthalmology, are tasked with using a multi-disciplinary approach to pursue a ‘revolutionary’ idea that, if successful, will provide radical improvement in the treatment or prevention of vision impairment. One former OTERO fellow and currently an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and of Ophthalmology, Morgan Fedorchak, PhD (pictured), who has a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh, had one such revolutionary idea; one that is generating excitement and anticipation from scientists, physicians, and patients alike.
Although corneal transplants are routinely performed today, whole-eye transplantation has remained an unrealized goal in vision restoration because of challenges related to immune rejection and reestablishing the connectivity of the optic nerve to the visual centers in the brain. The Audacious Restorative Goals in Ocular Sciences (ARGOS) Consortium established at the University of Pittsburgh is the first cross-disciplinary, systematic attempt to explore strategies to enable corneal regeneration, retinal cell survival, long-distance optic nerve regeneration with cortical integration, and whole-eyeball transplantation.
As reported by Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine deputy director Vijay Gorantla, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery in the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, the administrative medical director of the Pittsburgh Reconstructive Transplant Program at UPMC, and a clinician who has helped pioneer Pitt’s hand and arm transplants, is the first to acknowledge that it will be years before surgeons can attempt whole eye transplants in human patients. But he says the approach has a key advantage over other attempts to repair traumatic injuries to the eye, whether they have come from a roadside bomb, an industrial accident, or a car collision. The eye is so complex that trying to repair its internal parts is an enormous challenge.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | January 14, 2016
As reported by Heather Chronis in the Fall 2015 Sight & Sound newsletter of the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Barry Hirsch, MD, Director of the Division of Otology in the Department of Otolaryngology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is highly regarded by his patients as compassionate and knowledgeable, and is nationally recognized for excellence in ear surgery. He came to the University of Pittsburgh in 1979 for a residency in Otolaryngology (ENT), after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. His interview with the Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology, Eugene N. Myers, MD, sealed the deal for relocating to Pittsburgh.
Neuroprotecting and Repairing Injured Retina and Optic Nerve with ECM
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Steketee, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, UPMC Eye Center and the Fox Center for Vision Restoration, and McGowan Institute deputy director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery and director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the McGowan Institute, are the co-principal investigators of a 3-year, $1 million Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Vision Research Program Translational Research Award. McGowan Institute director William Wagner, PhD, Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering, and Chemical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and Kia Washington, MD, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Plastic Surgery, are the co-investigators of this project entitled, “Applying extracellular matrix technology to neuroprotect and to repair injured retina and optic nerve.”
Stem Cells from Wisdom Teeth Can Be Transformed into Corneal Cells
Stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth can be coaxed to turn into cells of the eye’s cornea and could one day be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members—James Funderburgh, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology at Pitt, and Yiqin Du, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Developmental Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine—and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, indicate they also could become a new source of corneal transplant tissue made from the patient’s own cells.
Patient’s Own Stem Cells Could Clear a Cloudy Cornea
Treating the potentially blinding haze of a scar on the cornea might be as straightforward as growing stem cells from a tiny biopsy of the patient’s undamaged eye and then placing them on the injury site, according to pre-clinical model experiments conducted by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members James Funderburgh, PhD, Yiqin Du, MD, PhD, and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, could one day rescue vision for millions of people worldwide and decrease the need for corneal transplants.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | October 7, 2014
$1.25 Million Received from Defense Department to Make Whole-Eye Transplantation a Reality
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers co-led by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty members Vijay Gorantla, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery in the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the administrative medical director of the Pittsburgh Reconstructive Transplant Program at UPMC, and Joel Schuman, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of the UPMC Eye Center, have been awarded $1.25 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to fund two projects that aim to establish the groundwork for the nation’s first whole-eye transplantation program.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded Qrono Inc. a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant for $256,000 to improve the treatment options for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and fund further development of the company’s predictive modeling technology for the design of long-acting injectable (LAI) drug formulations. The research will be conducted in collaboration with The Little Lab at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology
The 3rd Annual International Conference on Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology will be held June 10-11, 2013, at the University Club at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration (Fox Center) of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine is the first national, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary research and clinical program dedicated to ocular regenerative medicine. The Fox Center focuses on the restoration of sight through tissue regeneration, transplantation, and technology. Fox Center affiliates optimize quality of life for those challenged by vision loss and insure that individuals and their loved ones know they are not alone in addressing this challenge. Fox Center researchers seek to maximize participation in work, community, and society for those who lose their sight for any reason. Finally, their goal is to educate the sighted community on the prevalence of vision loss in America and around the world.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | January 20, 2013
Advances in Ophthalmology
January is glaucoma awareness month; over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma (vision affected by glaucoma pictured). Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | News Archive, Vision | December 17, 2012
Regenerative Medicine in Vision Research
At the UPMC Eye Center, much of the research focuses on regenerative medicine, a field that started with restoration of heart tissue in the 1990s and has since included research into the use of stem cell therapy in vision restoration. The Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh is studying what can be done to treat the most common diseases associated with vision loss, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and corneal scarring.