Class Year: M4
Hometown: Harrisonburg, VA
Undergraduate Education: BS/02 Biochemistry/Eastern Mennonite, VA
Research Interest: Generating retinal progenitor cells from differentiated cells in the eye
Advisor: Colin Barnstable, PhD
Graduate Program: Neuroscience
Description: Vision related disorders have a major impact in both economic terms and in quality of life of those so affected. Retinal diseases are a particular concern, as in mammals there is currently no way to replace retinal neurons that have been destroyed. In lower vertebrates, however, Muller glia are able to repair retinal damage by transitioning to retinal progenitor cells (RPCs), proliferating, and subsequently differentiating into retinal neurons. Prior studies have demonstrated the importance of the JAK/STAT pathway for neuroprotection and retinal regeneration in zebrafish models of retinal damage. We are exploring the molecular mechanisms by which mouse-derived Muller glia can be made to display RPC phenotypes in vitro and in vivo. By modulating STAT3 signaling with genetic factors and cytokines we seek to increase the regenerative and neuroprotective potential of Muller glia in mammalian models.
Penn State College of Medicine Graduate Research Forum, Hershey, PA
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