The candidate proposes a five year mentored clinical scientist research and training plan focused on the application of nanotechnology to the treatment of retinal disease. Dr. Foster is an Ophthalmologist with clinical training in Vitreoretinal surgery as well as a PhD in Physics. His long-term career goal is to combine his clinical interest in retinal diseases with his research interest in bionanotechnology, developing a funded research program investigating the interaction of novel materials with the retina. The research and clinical environment that has been established to achieve this goal is ideally suited to develop the candidate into an independently funded physician-scientist. The candidate proposes a series of experiments related to the goal of developing a photoreceptor prosthesis for patients with retinal degenerations such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. There has been a great deal of interest recently in the development of retinal prostheses. Although considerable effort has gone into the development of these devices, the focus has been primarily on engineering considerations, rather than upon obtaining a basic understanding of how these systems interact with neurons. Most of the existing systems rely upon silicon-based detectors and the injection of current into neurons, with resulting ohmic heating and damage. The proposed device relies upon novel materials to achieve capacitive and electric field coupling to retinal neurons. The candidate's hypothesis is that using this technology to develop the proposed prosthesis will overcome the significant limitation of thermal damage, and lead to an improved system. The eventual goal of this research is to test this novel device as a functional retinal prosthesis.
The specific aims of this research proposal are: (1) To develop photoferroelectric devices capable of activating specific neurons. (2) To determine an optimal configuration and size for an array of such devices. (3) To conduct in-vitro evaluation of the resulting devices.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1-VSN (06))
Program Officer
Neuhold, Lisa
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Houston
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Boochoon, Kieran S; Manarang, Joseph C; Davis, Joshua T et al. (2014) The influence of substrate elastic modulus on retinal pigment epithelial cell phagocytosis. J Biomech 47:3237-40
Foster, William J; Meen, James K; Fox, Donald A (2013) The effect of physiologic aqueous solutions on the perovskite material lead-lanthanum-zirconium titanate (PLZT): potential retinotoxicity. Cutan Ocul Toxicol 32:18-22
Davis, Joshua T; Wen, Qi; Janmey, Paul A et al. (2012) Muller cell expression of genes implicated in proliferative vitreoretinopathy is influenced by substrate elastic modulus. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 53:3014-9
Foster, William J (2011) Bilateral patching in retinal detachment: fluid mechanics and retinal ""settling"". Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 52:5437-40
Foster, William J; Tufail, Waqas; Issa, Amalia M (2010) The quality of pharmacoeconomic evaluations of age-related macular degeneration therapeutics: a systematic review and quantitative appraisal of the evidence. Br J Ophthalmol 94:1118-26
Foster, William Joseph; Dowla, Nadia; Joshi, Saurabh Y et al. (2010) The fluid mechanics of scleral buckling surgery for the repair of retinal detachment. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 248:31-6
Hacker, M C; Haesslein, A; Ueda, H et al. (2009) Biodegradable fumarate-based drug-delivery systems for ophthalmic applications. J Biomed Mater Res A 88:976-89
Davis, Matthew D; Bressler, Susan B; Aiello, Lloyd Paul et al. (2008) Comparison of time-domain OCT and fundus photographic assessments of retinal thickening in eyes with diabetic macular edema. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 49:1745-52
Ip, Michael S; Bressler, Susan B; Antoszyk, Andrew N et al. (2008) A randomized trial comparing intravitreal triamcinolone and focal/grid photocoagulation for diabetic macular edema: baseline features. Retina 28:919-30
Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (2008) A randomized trial comparing intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide and focal/grid photocoagulation for diabetic macular edema. Ophthalmology 115:1447-9, 1449.e1-10

Showing the most recent 10 out of 12 publications