Research at The Ross Eye Institute; The Ross Vision Research Center

The Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center

Part of the Ross Eye Institute, the UB Department of Ophthalmology is committed to excellence in research, medical education, and healthcare.

Our research leads to sight-preserving treatments for conditions and diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Our goal is to reduce visual impairment and improve the quality of life for people of all ages.

Ross researchers collaborate with scientists from over a dozen other universities, as well as domestic and international private research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. We also participate in the SUNY Eye Institute, a SUNY-wide eye research consortium represented by the four SUNY medical centers and the College of Optometry.

Our Research Faculty

Click on the names below to find out more about our labs:

Sangita Patel, MD, PhDXiuqian Mu, MD, PhDSteven J. Fliesler, PhDFederico Gonzalez-Fernandez, MD, PhDJack M. Sullivan, MD, PhD; Josh J. Wang, MD, MS; Sarah Xin Zhang, MD.


Distinguished Lectures in Vision Science 2015-2016

Thursdays, 5:00pm, 144 Farber Hall (first floor), SMBS (UB South Campus), unless otherwise noted, University at Buffalo/The State University of New York, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Supported by Research to Prevent Blindness.

September 17, 2015 - Stephen C. Pflugfelder, MD, James and Margaret Elkins Chair and Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Cullen Eye Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
TITLE: Immunomodulatory Activity of Conjunctival Goblet Cells
HOST: Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD

October 15, 2015 - Jacque L. Duncan, MD, Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, CA
TITLE: High Resolution Retinal Imaging of Photoreceptor Structure and Function
HOST: Gareth M. Lema, MD, PhD

November 19, 2015 - P. Michael Iuvone, PhD, Sylvia Montag Ferst and Frank W. Ferst Professor, Director of Vision Research, Emory Eye Center, Departments of Ophthalmology and Pharmacology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
TITLE: Dopamine, Circadian Clocks, and Visual Function
HOST: Jack M. Sullivan, MD, PhD

January 21, 2016 - Neal S. Peachey, PhD, Staff Scientist, Department of Ophthalmic Research, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Professor of Molecular Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Associate Chief of Staff for Research & Development, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Cleveland, OH
TITLE: Congenital Stationary Night Blindness: From Mice to Genes to Clinical Implications
HOST: Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

February 18, 2016 - David G. Hunter, MD, PhD, Richard M. Robb Chair of Ophthalmology and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Children’s Hospital Boston, Professor and Vice Chair of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
TITLE: Molecular Mechanisms of Strabismus and Emerging Therapeutic Concepts
HOST: James D. Reynolds, MD

March 17, 2016 - Emily Y. Chew, MD, Deputy Director, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and Deputy Clinical Director, National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
TITLE: The Role of Nutriion in Age-Related Macular Degeneration
HOST: Sarah X. Zhang, MD

April 21, 2016 - R. Rand Allingham, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology, Chief, Glaucoma Service, Duke Eye Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
TITLE: Seeing Glaucoma Through the Genetic Looking Glass: Dissection of a Complex Disease
HOST: Sandra Sieminski, MD

May 19, 2016 - Nansi Jo Colley, PhD, Retina Research Foundation M.D. Matthews Research Professor, UW Eye Research Institute, Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Professor, Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin- Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI
TITLE: Retinal Degeneration Through the Eye of the Fly
HOST: Xiuqian Mu, MD, PhD

RPB Grant applied: a Snapshot

June 2014

Understanding the function of IRBP
[Retina/Retinal Diseases]

  • Research: Interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) is thought to shuttle Vitamin A and other “retinoids” essential for vision, as well as other water-insoluble molecules, between the neural retina and the retinal pigment epithelium. Researchers investigated the ability of IRBP to protect Vitamin A from oxidative degradation.
  • Results: IRBP was found to have robust free radical-scavenging activity, strongly protecting Vitamin A from oxidative decomposition, thereby serving as an antioxidant.
  • Significance: These findings point to a new function for IRBP as an endogenous, potent antioxidant, protecting the outer retina from retinoid decomposition as well as oxidative stress.

Characteristics of the corneal endothelial barrier

  • Research: The corneal endothelium regulates the hydration status of the cornea. Researchers investigated the barrier properties of the corneal endothelium at high and low monolayer densities.
  • Results: Corneal endothelial monolayer permeability was found to increase only at the lowest cell densities with concurrent disruption of tight junction complexes.
  • Significance: Barrier function of the corneal endothelium is maintained over a wide range of cell densities. Disruption of barrier integrity at the lowest cell densities corresponds to the range associated with clinically evident corneal edema.

Molecular determinants of cell fate in the retina
[Retina/Retinal Diseases]

  • Research: The onecut transcription factors, Onecut1 and Onecut2, were studied with regard to their roles in retinal cell fate determination.
  • Results: Onecut1/Onecut2 double knockout mice were created and their retinas were analyzed. The results indicate that Onecut1 and Onecut2 function redundantly in regulating the formation of retinal horizontal cells, cone photoreceptors, and ganglion cells.
  • Significance: The study provides further insight into the genetic pathways underlying the genesis of various retinal cell types. This knowledge may have utility for designing novel cell replacement-based therapies for treating hereditary and acquired retinal diseases.

Dr. Patel Awarded $50,000 ARI Young Investigator Grant

May 2012  Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD, has been named one of only eight individuals worldwide to receive an Alcon Research Institute (ARI) Young Investigator Grant for 2012. 

The prestigious ARI Young Investigator Grant is intended to encourage and promote the early career development of clinicians and scientists entering research in vision science and ophthalmology.

Eight grants of $50,000 each are awarded annually to early-stage vision scientists who demonstrate exceptional promise for making significant contributions toward advancing eye research and eye health.

The $50,000 award will support research that Dr. Patel is conducting at the University at Buffalo that focuses on the physiology of the cornea, as it relates to both normal health and diseases that affect corneal function.

Ross Eye Institute Earns $2 Million NIH Research Grant

May 2012  Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, Vice Chairman of Ophthalmology and Director of Research at the Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center, has been awarded nearly $2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his research on Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), a hereditary eye disorder of cholesterol metabolism.

This latest award – a four-year RO1 grant renewal of $1,955,000 – marks 19 consecutive years of NIH funding for his research.

“Our goal is to use this model to test gene therapy strategies to ‘fix’ the gene defect and thus prevent the retinal degeneration,” said Fliesler.

Fliesler and his colleagues developed a rat model that closely mimics the key biochemical and neurological abnormalities of SLOS. Use of the model will further elucidate the molecular mechanism underlying SLOS, with an emphasis on the cause of retinal degeneration.

“We believe that oxidation of lipids and proteins, in addition to lack of sufficient cholesterol, is key to the root cause of the disease,” Fliesler said. “Therefore, we propose that combined antioxidant plus cholesterol supplementation may provide an improved treatment option for SLOS.”

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