Faculty

Joyce Tombran-Tink

Professor of Neural & Behavioral Sciences and Ophthalmology

 

Department/Institute/Center(s):

  • Neural and Behavioral Sciences
  • Ophthalmology

 

Contact Information:

 

Biographical Information:

Dr. Tombran-Tink received her PhD from the University of Southern California in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. After her doctoral studies she served as a Research Associate for the National Research Council Associateship Program then joined the laboratory for Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology at the National Eye Institute where she spent 7 years. Dr. Tombran-Tink subsequently joined the faculty of the George Washington University Medical School with joint appointment at the Children’s National Medical Center.  In 2000, she was appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Missouri Kansas City and later also as a visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Tombran-Tink recently joined the faculty of Neural and Behavioral Sciences at Penn State University College of Medicine where she continues her studies in retinal cell biology.   
 
Her research focuses primarily on molecular processes that trigger degenerative signals in the retina and ways to prevent or delay cell death in blinding diseases such as age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Her laboratory specifically studies mechanisms by which an endogeneous neuroprotective and antiangiogenic protein, Pigment Epithelium Derived Factor (PEDF), maintains a healthy retina. Dr. Tombran-Tink identified and isolated PEDF during her doctoral studies as a major molecule secreted by the retinal pigment epithelium and showed that the protein prevents the death of several types of neurons in hazardous environments. She has cloned, sequenced, and mapped the gene and continues to dissect the neurobiological properties of the protein and its active peptide fragments in the normal and diseased retina. She has found that the production of this protein in the eye is decreased with advanced aging and in some retinal degenerative conditions making its replacement important for optimal retinal survival and function.  One attractive feature in using PEDF to treat retinal degenerations is that the molecule is native to the eye, thus restoring physiological levels by none viral methods has no serious adverse side effects or dose-limiting toxicities.
 
A major obstacle in treating retinal diseases with neuroprotective agents, however, is developing an effective, none invasive delivery route. Dr. Tombran-Tink has consistently observed that intraocular delivery of PEDF has robust effects in stabilizing photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells in many adverse conditions and that encapsulation of the protein in nanoparticles has therapeutic advantages for sustained release of active doses of the protein in the retina. She is now exploiting these findings and exploring new options to deliver bioactive peptides to the retina that are clinically superior to current strategies in improving visual function. 

 

 

 

Joyce Tombran-Tink

 

Related Links:

 

Media interested in contacting the above person should contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at 717-531-8606.

Kevin D. Alloway, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Colin J. Barnstable, D.Phil.
Chair Neural & Behavioral Sciences;
Professor Neural & Behavioral Sciences and Psychiatry
Research Director, Penn State Hershey Eye Center

Kirsteen N. Browning, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Neural & Behavioral Sciences

Loren A. Evey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Patricia S. Grigson, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Andras Hajnal, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences & Surgery

Gregory M. Holmes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Michelle Lazarus, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Patricia J. McLaughlin, D.Ed.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences; Director, Graduate Program in Anatomy

Ralph Norgren, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Thomas C. Pritchard, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Ian A. Simpson, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Joyce Tombran-Tink
Professor of Neural & Behavioral Sciences and Ophthalmology

R. Alberto Travagli, Ph.D.
Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences

Ian S. Zagon, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor; Distinguished Educator; Director, Program on Education in Human Structure

Samuel Shao-Min Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neural & Behavioral Sciences