Leah C. T. Byrne, PhD

Dr. Leah Byrne holds the position of Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Neurobiology and Bioengineering. The Byrne Lab develops gene-based approaches, including viral vector-mediated gene delivery and genome editing, to interrogate the biology underlying retinal disease and treat inherited blindness.

Prior to working at Pitt, Dr. Byrne held the position of Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow: David Schaffer & William Beltran Laboratories (January 2012 – March 2017) at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, and the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. During this time, she engineered next-generation AAV viruses for gene therapy in the retina, developed high throughput methods for directed evolution of viral vectors, and created therapies for inherited retinal degenerations affecting photoreceptors and RPE. Dr. Byrne holds 5 patents.

Dr. Byrne attended Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, where she received a BA in 2002 in Neuroscience. In 2003, Dr. Byrne was a J. William Fulbright Fellow at Karolinksa Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. She then attended the University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, where she received her PhD in Neuroscience in 2011.

Dr. Byrne has received numerous awards for her research. She served as an Associate Scientific Advisor: Science Translational Medicine, was named an Emerging Vision Scientist, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, a Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award, and a Foundation Fighting Blindness Individual Investigator Award. Dr. Byrne is also the co-founder and CSO of Avista Therapeutics, a company working to develop gene therapies for retinal degeneration.

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