Members of the department of Cell Biology and Immunology engage in a variety of research areas including vision research, HIV/AIDS, cancer biology, ocular immunology, basic cell and molecular biology phenomena such as apoptosis (cell death), cell differentiation, gene expression and structural anatomy. Research is conducted in a highly interactive and collegial environment. The department has outstanding professional staff that provide high quality histology / microscopy support for both members of Cell Biology and Immunology faculty and other faculty as well.
Hassan Alizadeh, Ph.D.
The major focus in my laboratory is to understand the immune response against pathogenic microorganisms that infect the eye. Acanthamoeba keratitis is a sight-threatening corneal disease caused by pathogenic free-living amoebae. Acanthamoeba keratitis is caused by Acanthamoeba species with a remarkable ability to kill cells in a contact-dependent and independent manner. The disease is often associated with contact lens wear, which appears to be an important risk factor in infection. The primary focus of this project is to thoroughly evaluate the molecular interactions between an ocular pathogen and corneal epithelial tissues. Our fundamental premise is that no single therapeutic procedure is likely to be effective in the treatment of ongoing infection. However, a carefully selected and evaluated combination of procedures that collectively or synergistically interfere with each step of the pathogenic cascade is needed to produce a significant reduction in the severity of the disease.
Patrick Cammarata, Ph.D.
Mechanism(s) of ocular diabetic complications, including sugar cataract development. Inositol lipid metabolism, myo-inositol uptake and efflux, molecular cloning, fine structure analysis of the sodium/myo-inositol cotransporter gene, promotes characterization and transcriptional regulation of the sodium/myo-inositol cotransporter gene.
Abbot Clark, PhD
Director, North Texas Eye Research Institute
Our lab is investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. Glaucoma damages the aqueous outflow pathway (i.e. trabecular meshwork), optic nerve head, optic nerve, retinal ganglion cells, and visual axis in the brain. We are using molecular genetics, molecular biology, cell culture, organ culture, and mouse models to identify and validate pathogenic pathways involved in glaucomatous damage to the eye and brain. Understanding the molecular pathogenic pathways will allow us to identify and test new therapeutic targets to better treat this vision threatening disease.
Anuja Ghorpade, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair
Ours is the Laboratory of Cellular Neuroimmunology. The long-standing interest of our research program focuses on the role of glial inflammation in neurodegeneration, particularly in the context of HIV/AIDS and other dementias. The burden of HIV infection on the world population is astounding. Despite effective antiretroviral therapy, approximately 50% of HIV+ patients have some sort of neurological manifestation. In the post-antiretroviral therapy era, patients with HIV-1 infection are living longer and have an increased risk for developing neurocognitive decline. The evidence for astrocytes playing an important role in neural health and disease conditions continues to grow. Our laboratory investigates two main themes that pertain to glial responses in disease. One line of investigation is focused on the alterations in protective functions of astrocytes while the other investigates activation of pathways deleterious to neural health. We currently have several individual projects related to these themes. These pertain to regulation of matrix metalloproteinases and their tissue inhibitors, CXCL8 regulation in neuro-AIDS, combined injury of methamphetamine and HIV-1, glutamate imbalance in the AIDS brain tissues and function of astrocyte elevated gene-1 in reactive astrogliosis and inflammation.
Ignacy Gryczynski, Ph.D.
Fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy progressed recently towards a nanotechnology. The technological advances in optics, computers, surface science and engineering made possible single molecule detection and overcome the diffraction limit. Dr. Gryczynski´s research focuses on fluorescence enhancements near metallic surfaces and particles. The enhanced fluorescence is being applied to sensing devices and bioassays. He also has a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, where he co-manages the time-resolved fluorescence laboratory. This laboratory carries basic spectroscopy research and is open to the needs of researchers from both departments.
Raghu Krishnamoorthy, Ph.D.
Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy commonly associated with increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and characterized by cupping of the optic disc, optic nerve degeneration, and apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells, ultimately leading to blindness. Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoactive peptide, has been found to be elevated in the aqueous humor of patients with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), compared to normal subjects. ET-1 acts through mainly two classes of G-protein coupled receptors, namely, the ETA and ETB receptors. A number of studies suggest that the ETB receptors may play a key role in neurodegeneration. The ongoing project is aimed at understanding the neurodegenerative role of ETB receptors in an in-vivo rat model (Morrison’s model) of glaucoma. The long term goals are to develop endothelin receptor antagonists as potential neuroprotective agents for the treatment of glaucoma. A second project is aimed at developing neuroregenerative strategies in rodent models of optic neuropathy. Ongoing projects include analysis of the POU domain transcription factor, Brn3b (POU4F2) in rodent models of glaucoma and in vivo overexpression of Brn3b using viral vectors to attenuate axon loss and promote regeneration of the optic nerve.