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Ocular Biology

 

 
jbergma2 Bergmanson 9999 Contact-Lens Specialty-Contact-Lens UH-Main-Campus Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Attending Clinical-Sciences Research
Jan Bergmanson Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Ocular Biology
Interests

contact lens designs and materials, effects on the ocular surface, ocular histopathology

Jan P. Bergmanson,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

Brien A. Holden Professor

Jan PG Bergmanson, OD, PhD, PhD h.c., DSc, is the Brien A. Holden Professor of Optometry at University of Houston College of Optometry, founding Director of the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center, is licensed in Texas as a Therapeutic Optometrist and an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist. He is a Fellow of American Academy of Optometry (AAO), where he is a Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lens and Refractive Technologies Section and a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society. He is a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Swedish and Dutch Optometric Associations, was elected 2013 to Life Fellowship of The College of Optometrists, United Kingdom. Awards received include British Contact Lens Association’s Gold Medal (1998), Texas Optometric Association’s Educator of the Year Award (2002), AAO Max Schapero Lecture Award (2006), 2014 American Optometric Association Legend Award, IACLE America’s Contact Lens Educator of the Year Award (2017), 2018 Joseph Dallos Award presented by Contact Lens Manufacturers Association and 2019 Pioneer Excellence Award by International Summit of Specialty Contact Lenses. Scholarship encompasses over 160 clinical and scientific publications, 9 chapters in texts, one book, now in its 29th edition and one patent.

aburns Burns 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Research Vision-Science
Alan Burns Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology
Interests

corneal wound healing, corneal inflammation

Alan R. Burns,Ph.D.

McDaid-Vision Source Professor

Dr. Burns received his PhD in Pathology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He completed his post-doctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine and then joined their faculty where he rose from Assistant to Associate Professor. During this time, he served as the Director of the Cardiovascular Sciences Graduate Program.  His research focused on Leukocyte Recruitment and Inflammation and toward the end of his term with BCM, he began to study corneal inflammation and wound healing.  This interest in the eye lead to his leaving BCM in 2008 to join the faculty at the University of Houston, College of Optometry (UHCO) as a tenured Associate Professor.  In 2012, he became a Full Professor and he now studies the impact of obesity and the metabolic syndrome on corneal health.  His research has been steadily funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 26 Years and much of that time was also spent as a reviewer for the NIH, the Canadian Institutes of Health and the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.  He has more than 130 publications, 8 book chapters, and he has mentored 24 PhD, MSc and post-doctoral fellows.  With over 40 years of experience in light and electron microscopic imaging, he also serves as the Director of the Biological Imaging Core at UHCO.  He is a McDaid Vision Source Endowed Professor (2016) and he has received several Faculty Teaching awards during his tenure at the College of Optometry. 

vjcoulso Coulson-Thomas 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Research Vision-Science
Vivien Coulson-Thomas Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology
Interests

role of glycosaminoglycans in ocular surface development and pathology

Vivien J. Coulson-Thomas,Ph.D.

Associate Professor

My research involves primarily the study of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans in the fields of cornea, cancer, wound healing, stem cells, inflammation, development, spinal cord injury and nerve regeneration. This unique interdisciplinary approach aims to decipher the role of glycosaminoglycans in development and pathology. One of our ongoing projects is to unveil the role of hyaluronan (HA) in ocular surface development and pathology using knockout approaches. We have previously shown that umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells synthesize a rich extracellular HA modified glycocalyx that regulates inflammatory cells enabling these cells to survive xenograft rejection. We are currently developing umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells and their hyaluronan rich glycocalyx for treating inflammatory disorders.

ldellasa Della Santina 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Research Vision-Science
Luca Della Santina Image
Area of Research
Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Neural circuit and synaptic remodeling in retinal development and degeneration.

Luca Della Santina,Ph.D., Pharm.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Della Santina received his M.S in medicinal chemistry, Pharm.D. in pharmacy and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pisa. He moved to the United States as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle under the supervision of Dr. Rachel Wong. Following his postdoctoral training, he was a research faculty at the University of Pisa, Italy and at the University of California, San Francisco before joining the faculty at the College of Optometry, University of Houston in 2021. His research focuses on investigating the functional, circuit and synaptic rearrangements of the retina following to neurodegenerative diseases, to identify novel cellular targets for early detection and treatment. His research laboratory develops novel computational tools for large-scale recording of neurons and identification of neural circuits, as well as computer vision approaches based on deep learning for the automatic detection of ocular diseases in clinical and smartphone photographs.

tgferrei Ferreira 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Research Vision-Science
Tarsis Ferreira Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology
Interests

ocular surface, GAGs, drug development for ocular disease, focus on ocular surface?

Tarsis G. Ferreira,B.S., MSc, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Tarsis Gesteira Ferreira earned his B.S. in Biomedicine and MSc and Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Federal University of Sao Paulo. He went on to complete post-doctoral training at the following locations:

Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati – Developmental Biology
King's College, London - Computational Biology
University of Cincinnati - Ophthalmology

Dr. Ferreira then co-founded the pharmaceutical company Optimvia, which focuses on the in-silico design of enzymes for the in-vitro synthesis of heparin. His research focuses on the role of complex sugars and proteins in different eye pathologies, understanding their mechanism of action in order to explore their drugability. His current research goals are to develop small molecule drugs targeting the inhibition of corneal angiogenesis following injury, treating bacterial and viral keratitis, and wet macular degeneration. We are pleased to have Dr. Ferreira join the department of Vision Sciences as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track).

lfrishma Frishman 3 Associate-Deans Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Graduate-Studies-and-Research Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Administration Research Vision-Science
Laura Frishman Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Retinal physiology, non invasive assessment of retina and anterior visual path in normal and disease

Laura J. Frishman,Ph.D., FAAO, FARVO

Professor
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

Dr. Frishman has been on the faculty of the College of Optometry since 1990 and  currently serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research.  She received her undergraduate degree from Vassar College  and her MS and PhD in physiological psychology/neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. She did postdoctoral training in visual neuroscience at Northwestern University and the University of California San Francisco where she also was a research faculty member. Dr. Frishman has taught in both the professional and graduate programs in the College of Optometry. Her research has focused on refining noninvasive electrophysiological approaches for evaluating retinal and anterior visual pathway function in normal subjects and subjects with inherited or acquired diseases that affect visual function. 

Dr. Frishman currently serves as an Associate Editor for Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, she is on the editorial board of Translational Vision Science and Technology and she is an academic editor for PloS One. Previously she served as Editor-in-chief of the Journals,  Visual Neurocience, and Documenta Ophthalmological. Dr. Frishman has served on federal grant review panels, the NIH/NEI National Advisory Eye Council, and she is a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (FARVO), American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) and a board member of the International Society for the Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision (ISCEV).? 

wwharris Harrison 9999 Medical-Eye UH-Main-Campus Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Clinical-Sciences Research
Wendy Harrison Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Ocular Biology
Interests

Structural and functional changes in diabetic eye disease

Wendy Harrison,OD., Ph.D., FAAO

Associate Professor

Dr. Wendy Harrison completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Notre Dame and went on to be the first student to complete a joint OD and MS in Vision Science at Indiana University in four years. Following a residency in Cornea and Contact Lenses, also at Indiana, she completed PhD in Vision Science at the University of California Berkeley. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Her research focuses on diabetic eye diseases and prediabetes and she runs the electrodiagnostic testing in the clinic. She is a member of ARVO, and a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry. Within the Academy she is the current President of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation and part of the leadership of Fellows Doing Research.

jobrien3 O'Brien 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Research Vision-Science
John O'Brien Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Electrical synapses in retinal neurons, gap junctions

John O'Brien,Ph.D.

Professor

Dr. John O’Brien joined UHCO as a Professor in Vision Science in 2021. Dr. O’Brien earned his B.A. in Biochemistry at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. O’Brien entered the field of vision research in a post-doc with mentors Harris Ripps and Muayyad Al-Ubaidi at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  There he cloned connexins that form electrical synapses in retinal neurons, setting the stage for a large fraction of the research he has performed since then.  In 1998, Dr. O’Brien joined the Ophthalmology faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, in which his lab conducted research on retinal electrical synapses. Dr. O’Brien has published extensively on this topic and has been funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) since 2000. Dr. O’Brien has recently begun to study regeneration of rod photoreceptors in a transgenic zebrafish model of Retinitis Pigmentosa developed in his lab.  His group has applied single-cell transcriptomics to map out transcriptional pathways involved in the proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells to form new rods and to study the role of microglia in retinal regeneration.  His lab is applying a variety of molecular and genetic techniques to investigate these pathways. 

npatel Patel 9999 Medical-Eye UH-Main-Campus Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Research Vision-Science
Nimesh Patel Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Optical coherence tomography, structure-function relationships in glaucoma, algorithm development for early detection of optic nerve pathology

Nimesh Patel,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

Associate Professor

Dr. Patel graduated from the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis Tennessee in 2002, after which he completed a residency in Family Practice at Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry. He completed his graduate work at the University of Houston, earning a PhD in 2012, and has been on the faculty since. His current research is on improving structural measures of the optic nerve head, retinal nerve fiber layer and macula regions using optical coherence tomography, and investigating the relationship between these structural measures and visual function. He also teaches students in the classroom, laboratory and clinical settings. 

gqin Qin 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Research Vision-Science
Guoting Qin Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology
Interests

ocular homeostasis and to characterize the host response to environmental stress and disease progression using mass spectrometry-based omics tools.

Guoting Qin,Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor

Guoting Qin is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Vision Sciences of the University of Houston, College of Optometry. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Houston.  

Her research focus is to understand ocular homeostasis and to characterize the host response to environmental stress and disease progression using mass spectrometry-based omics tools. These tools, including crosslinking mass spectrometry, proteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics, and glycomics, are used to map the interactome of the ocular surface at a molecular level.  

rredfern Redfern 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Research Vision-Science
Rachel Redfern Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Ocular Biology
Interests

ocular surface inflammation/infection, the impact of contact lenses (e.g. scleral gas permeable lenses) on normal and diseased eyes

Rachel Redfern,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

Associate Professor

Rachel Redfern received her bachelor's degree in biology from Texas A&M University and then her OD/PhD from the University of Houston, College of Optometry. In 2006, Dr. Redfern received the Institutional Ruth Kirschstein National Research Post-doctorate Award and the ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award. Dr. Redfern is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Optometry and the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society. She is also a past William C. Ezell Fellow.

Her laboratory is interested in ocular surface inflammation/infection, the impact of contact lenses (e.g. scleral gas permeable lenses) on normal and diseased eyes and the functional and anatomical changes that occurs in the meibomian glands with age and disease. They perform human subject, animal and in vitro studies. Dr. Redfern’s laboratory is NIH funded to examine the impact of toll-like receptors on the production of damaging cytokines and matrix metalloproteases and beneficial antimicrobial peptides on the ocular surface.

cpribela Ribelayga 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Research Vision-Science
Christophe Ribelayga Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Circadian clocks and retinal development, plasticity in network of coupled photoreceptors.

Christophe Ribelayga,M.S., Ph.D.

Foundation for Education & Research in Vision (FERV) Professor

Dr. Ribelayga received his M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (2000), both in Neuroscience, from the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. He then did post-doctoral work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) (1999-2005). During this time, he used techniques of single cell recording in the retina to examine how circadian clocks within the retina control the light responses of retinal cells. He joined The Ohio State University (OSU) School of Medicine in Columbus, OH as a Research Assistant Professor (2005-2009) and subsequently moved to The University of Texas at Houston (UTHealth) McGovern Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology. Dr. Ribelayga was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2016 and awarded the Bernice Weingarten Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology in 2019. Dr. Ribelayga joined the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) in 2021, where he is Professor of Physiological Optics and Vision Science. His work has long focused on two areas of research: 1) the role of circadian clocks in the development, maintenance, and function of retinal cells, and 2) the functional architecture of the network of coupled photoreceptors, its plasticity, and the impact of this plasticity on retinal circuit processing and visual perception. Although Dr. Ribelayga’s research accomplishments are primarily in basic science, his work may have important clinical relevance and has been continuously supported by NIH. 

erritche Ritchey 9999 Contact-Lens Myopia Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Clinical-Sciences Research
Eric Ritchey Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology
Interests

Contact lens, Meibomian gland disease and treatments.

Eric Ritchey,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

Assistant Professor

Eric Ritchey, OD, PhD, FAAO is a 2001 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. After graduation, Eric completed a 2-year Advanced Practice Fellowship in Cornea and Contact Lenses at Ohio State, where his research focused on overnight orthokeratology and extended wear contact lenses. Following fellowship, Eric served as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis College of Optometry before beginning his PhD training at Ohio State. During his PhD training, Eric’s research in the laboratory of Dr. Andy Fischer focused on the mechanisms behind refractive error development. After completing the PhD, Eric joined Johnson and Johnson Vision Care as a Principal Research Optometrist in the Emerging Technologies Group, where he worked on contact lens technologies to control myopia progression. After 4 years in industry, Eric decided to return to academia and will teach Ophthalmic Optics to 2nd year optometry students. Eric’s clinical interests are in specialty contact lens fitting, anterior segment disease and ocular prosthetics. His research activities will focus on myopia development and contact lenses.

asantha3 Santhanam 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Research Vision-Science
Abirami Santhanam Image
Area of Research
Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Retina regeneration, Microglia in regeneration, vision restoration, cornea wound healing

Abirami Santhanam,O.D.

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Abirami Santhanam received her doctorate in Biochemistry at the National Taiwan University, Taiwan. She got the opportunity to work with Dr. Steven Wilson from Cleveland Clinic on corneal wound healing and regeneration during her postdoctoral career and has contributed to the understanding of the role of growth factors and receptors in corneal development that are important to treat the pathophysiological conditions that affect the cornea after surgery, infection or trauma. She established the Laser capture-based microdissection technique on the cornea to understand the role of stromal proteins. Then she got the opportunity to work with Dr. John O’Brien on retina regeneration. The regenerative power of Zebrafish combined with single-cell transcriptome analysis provided an excellent system to understand the exciting molecular mechanisms of regeneration in the retina. She has established a Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) model in the zebrafish to understand the regeneration of rod cells that are degenerated in human RP conditions. Currently, her lab is in the process of identifying the key factors that turn on and regulate this regeneration that can be translated into the mammalian system to turn on regeneration successfully. Her long-time research interest is to contribute more towards the understanding of the complex controls and molecular mechanisms in signal transduction pathways involved in vision restoration. 

kasapozn Sapoznik 9999 Medical-Eye UH-Main-Campus Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Attending Clinical-Sciences Research
Kaitlyn Sapoznik Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology
Interests

high resolution imaging, retinal vascular remodeling in diabetes and aging

Kaitlyn Sapoznik,O.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kaitlyn A. Sapoznik received her Doctor of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry in 2013 and then completed a one-year ocular disease residency at Indiana University School of Optometry in Bloomington, IN. Following her residency, she completed her Ph.D. in Vision Science at Indiana University. Her research uses high-resolution retinal imaging techniques like adaptive optics retinal imaging to better understand retinal microvascular remodeling in aging and disease with an emphasis on diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Sapoznik was awarded the Vision Impact Institute Ezell Fellowship for two-consecutive years.

dnsayah Sayah 9999 Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Ocular-Biology Visual-Neuroscience Clinical-Sciences Research
Diane Sayah Image
Area of Research
Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Human subjects, imaging, glaucoma, ocular disease, myopia

Diane N. Sayah,O.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Diane N. Sayah completed her Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Montreal in2015. She then completed her PhD in Vision Science at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Center (University of Montreal) and worked at the Harvard Retinal Imaging Lab as a postdoctoral fellow (Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School). During her studies, she won several excellence and training awards. Her doctoral thesis on ocular biomechanics in glaucoma was notably nominated for the Dean's Honor List.

Dr. Sayah also served as lecturer and clinical instructor at the University of Montreal School of Optometry for several years (2016-2022) before joining the faculty at the University of Houston College of Optometry.

Beyond her clinical and teaching responsibilities, she has been actively involved in multiple organizations to promote research in vision and eye health.

As a clinician-scientist, Dr Sayah's interests are directed towards myopia and neurodegenerative diseases of the eye. Benefiting from cutting-edge technology and innovative methods for probing biomechanical and choroidal involvement, her objective is to lead translational research which will directly improve clinical care.

mkwalker Walker 9999 Specialty-Contact-Lens UH-Main-Campus Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Biomedical-Optics Clinical-Translational-Research Ocular-Biology Attending Clinical-Sciences Research
Maria Walker Image
Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology
Interests

Anterior segment physiology, scleral contact lens complications, and contact lens optics - specifically for presbyopia and myopia control modalities.

Maria Walker,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

Assistant Professor

Maria K Walker, OD, PhD is a clinician scientist who specializes in anterior segment inflammatory diseases and specialty contact lenses. She graduated with an OD/MS degree from The New England College of Optometry (NECO) in 2013 and went on to complete a one-year Cornea & Contact Lens Residency at Pacific University in Portland, OR. She came to UHCO as an Assistant Professor in 2014 and in 2021 completed a PhD in Physiological Optics with a dissertation entitled: “The Impact of a Scleral Lens on the Eye”. Throughout her education and early career, Maria has won several merit-based awards including the VSP student clinical excellent award (2013), the Sheldon Wechsler contact lens residency award (2014), the Founders’ Grant from the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists (2017), as well as two Ezell fellowships in 2017 and 2018 and the Minnie Turner Award for Vision Researchers in 2019. She is an active Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow and a Past President of the Scleral Lens Education Society, as well as an advisory board member of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute. Maria is currently a tenure-tracked Assistant Professor at UHCO, and the Walker lab is focused on studying the role of immune cells in inflammatory diseases of the cornea and tear film (i.e., keratoconus), as well as the impact of a scleral lens on the eye in diseased and normal eyes.