North Texas Eye Research Institute Faculty and Staff

Nteri Faculty Web


Suchismita Acharya, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Our current research is focused on expanding the chemical toolbox for neural signaling and anti-inflammation/anti-oxidant pathways to understand the mechanism of action of the disease pathology associated with glaucomatous optic neuropathy, Alzheimer Diseases, Ischemic stroke as well as angiogenesis. Our lab integrates medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, bio-engineering, and drug delivery via nanotechnology. We employ synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry to generate small molecule library for low throughput as well as high throughput screening (target based as well as phenotypic).

Sai Chavala, MD

Professor and Director of Translational Research

Our laboratory focuses understanding the molecular underpinnings of acquired and inherited retinal degenerations. Our goal is to develop novel therapies and restore vision for patients suffering from vision impairment secondary to retinal disease.  Currently, our lab focuses on stem cell-like regenerative approaches to replace damaged or lost retinal cells.

Abbot Clark, PhD

FARVO Professor and Executive Director

Abe Clark’s laboratory studies the cell and molecular mechanisms responsible for a variety of eye diseases, especially glaucoma. Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in the world. Dr. Clark’s lab has discovered a number of new disease pathways involved in glaucomatous elevation of intraocular pressure. His lab also has identified novel neuroprotective therapies to protect specific retinal neurons, retinal ganglion cells, that are damaged in glaucoma, and also protect the optic nerve and visual centers in the brain. Abe currently mentors 9 graduate students and serves on the editorial board of 4 scientific journals. He has published over 190 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has been invited to present his scientific work at over 110 national and international scientific meetings.

Dorette Ellis, PhD

Associate Professor

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that results in blindness. There are two prominent problems in glaucoma. One is high pressure caused by fluid build-up in the front of the eye and the other is loss of structures called retinal ganglion cells in the back of the eye. I am interested in understanding how retinal ganglion cells function and how to help the cells survive in glaucoma. I am also interested in understanding how the fluid in the front of the eye is able to build-up and how to decrease the fluid in glaucoma. Understanding how fluid builds-up and how cells die will allow us to develop therapeutic strategies for the treatment of glaucoma.

Shaoqing He, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

My research interest focuses on the pathological mechanisms of glaucoma. The characteristic events occurring during progression of glaucoma are the death of nerve cells in the eye (retinal ganglion cells) and damage to the optic nerve. We are testing the hypothesis that transcription factors, the proteins controlling gene expression, and astrocytes, one type of supporting cells in the nervous system, play a crucial role in both events.  Therefore, my efforts are dedicated to understand the interaction of nerve cells and astrocytes, and to reveal the roles of transcription factors in neuronal cell death, particularly through the activation of astrocytes.

Raghu Krishnamoorthy, PhD

Assistant Professor

My laboratory is involved in projects aimed at understanding the role of the endothelin family of vasoactive peptides in glaucomatous neurodegeneration. The goal is to develop endothelin receptor antagonists as neuroprotective agents for the treatment of glaucoma. Another project focusses on the POU domain transcription factor POU4F2 (Brn3b) and study its role in neuroprotection in a rodent model of glaucoma.

Denise Inman, PhD

Associate Professor

My lab investigates the metabolic alterations associated with the pathogenesis of glaucoma. Mitochondria, the organelles responsible for generating energy and coordinating metabolism in the cell, show various signs of dysfunction prior to the degeneration that occurs in glaucoma. Also compromised are the cellular transporters that provide the raw materials for energy generation to the mitochondria. We are establishing ways to limit these changes in order to prevent glaucoma development.

Yang Liu, MD, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Liu’s research interests focus on understanding the mechanisms related to glaucoma neurodegeneration and developing effective neuroprotective strategies. Current studies include phosphoproteomics changes in the retina following optic nerve injury, establishing conditionally immortalized retinal cell lines.

Cameron Millar, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Experienced eye researcher and educator, with both academic and industrial experience, committed to the investigation of ocular anterior segment physiology, aqueous humor dynamics, pharmacology, and glaucoma.  Experienced with in vivo (live animal) and organ perfusion paradigms, as well as small animal research surgical techniques, in the following species: mouse, rat, rabbit, monkey, and bovine.

Sima Mozdbar, OD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Mozdbar is certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and Texas State Board certified as an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist and Therapeutic Optometrist. She is establishing a clinical ophthalmic research center at UNTHSC, where she will initiate collaborative and translational research projects. Her research interests include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and ocular biomarkers in neurodegenerative conditions. In addition, she serves as NTERI’s Director of Community Outreach, where she is actively engaged in a number of community vision screening and education initiatives, including working with the Fort Worth Independent School District to conduct public health vision screenings in pre-kindergarten students.

Aiguo Ni, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Retinal stem cells are the primitive cells that can develop into different specific cell types in the eye. My research interests lie in ocular regenerative medicine. More specifically, one of my interests is to isolate or generate retinal stem cells and/or mature ocular cells such as retinal pigmented epithelial cells to replace cells and tissues lost during disease progression. The other is to use generated stem cells or mature cells as tools for disease modeling and drug screening to help developing new therapeutic strategies to treat degenerative eye diseases.

Iok-Hou Pang, PhD

Professor and Chair of Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Pang’s research interests mainly focus on the understanding of glaucoma etiology, pathology, and pharmacology, especially on glaucoma neuroprotection.  His is working to delineate essential molecular and cellular mechanisms, as well as characterize receptors and signal transduction pathways related to the abnormal changes in glaucoma.  His laboratory is using rodents and primary cultures of retinal and optic nerve cells as study models to clarify biological events leading to the disease and its prevention and protection.

Dorota Stankowska, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

My research focusses on mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of transcription factor Brn3b in a rat model of ocular hypertension. Our studies have shown that following elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) mediated axonal injury in rats, administration of rAAV-Brn3b, promotes neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells and optic nerve axons. Additionally, intravitreal rAAV-Brn3b administration significantly restored the visual acuity in IOP-elevated rat eyes. The long term goals are to uncover novel molecular targets of Brn3b and explore their potential to be developed as neuroprotective agents for the treatment of glaucoma.

Tara Tovar-Vidales, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Tovar-Vidales research goal is to understand the pathology of the trabecular meshwork (TM) and the optic nerve head (ONH) in glaucoma. The TM is the main dynamic resistor that regulates the aqueous humor outflow and causes elevated intraocular pressure in the anterior chamber of the eye. This elevated pressure is transduced towards the back of the eye and results in a remodeling of the ONH. The ONH is the resident of two types of cells, ONH astrocytes  and lamina cribrosa cells (LC). ONA and LC cells have been implicated in the pathophysiology of glaucoma. I focus primarily on growth factors and their signaling pathways to determine if they alter mRNA and protein expression of the TM and the ONH cells. I wish to understand the roles of these growth factors in normal tissue and in the glaucoma pathophysiology.

Hongli Wu, PhD

Assistant Professor

The central theme of my research is to understand the function of thiol-regulating enzymes and evaluate their therapeutic potential in eye diseases. Of primary interest is the age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common retinal disorder that affects 25 million people worldwide, yet its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. The following are our major projects:

  • Examine how retinal thiol redox dysregulation leads to AMD pathogenesis.
  • Characterize glutaredoxin 2 (Grx2), a thiol redox-regulating enzyme, knockout mice as a new animal model for AMD.
  • Identify/screening Grx2 inducers from natural products for AMD treatment.

Thomas Yorio, PhD


Dr. Yorio’s laboratory focuses on glaucoma.  Areas of interest include aqueous humor dynamics, endothelin pharmacology in glaucoma, identifying potential targets for neuroprotection and in the area of glucocorticoid pharmacology and ocular hypertension, specifically on understanding the role of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) beta in dampening the ocular hypertensive response of glucocorticoids.

Gulab Zode, PhD

Assistant Professor

My research focus is to understand how cellular processes including unfolded protein response pathway and autophagy regulate protein misfolding and to develop targeted treatments for glaucoma based on the understanding of these pathways. We have developed two novel glaucoma mouse models as well as established various genetic tools to study protein misfolding and biological functions of unfolded protein response pathway and autophagy in glaucoma pathogenesis. We recently discovered that endoplasmic reticulum stress is associated with trabecular meshwork damage and elevation of intraocular pressure, leading to blindness. We are currently targeting these pathways using genetic and pharmacological manipulations for the treatment of glaucoma.


Anne-Marie Brun

Marcy Butler

Stacy Curry

Sherri Harris

Ramesh Kasetti

Charles Kiehlbauch

Bindu Kodati

Linya Li

Annabel Luna-Smith

Biraj Mahato

Sandra Maansson

Tasneem Sharma

Wei Zhang


This page was last modified on October 10, 2019