I am committed to a career as a clinician scientist and this K08 award will help me realize this goal. My immediate career goal is to establish my own research laboratory. My long term career goal is to develop into a leader in the fields of regenerative medicine and cell based therapies. I graduated with an M.D., Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with Debora Farber, Ph.D. at UCLA. Currently, I hold an associate staff position at the Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In order to establish my laboratory, I currently see patients 25% of the time and conduct bench research 75% of the time. This award will allow me to maintain this ratio as I develop into an independent investigator and secure funding from an R01. My mentor and co-mentor for this proposal are Bela Anand-Apte, M.B.B.S, Ph.D. and Brian Perkins, Ph.D. Bela is a leader in the field of ocular angiogenesis and Brian is a leader in the field of retinal degenerations and is a zebrafish biologist. I enjoy a collaborative environment with access to shared resources, personnel, and equipment as well as core facilities. They will closely supervise my progress and hold monthly meetings with me to discuss my career development and project progress. I will also meet quarterly with a career development advisory board consisting of my mentor, co-mentor, Dr. Joe Hollyfield, Dr. Neal Peachey, and Dr. John Crabb. I will also take intensive enrichment courses over the summer at Woods Hole and Cold Spring Harbor and courses at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. I am interested in looking at the role of scar formation and its effects on retinal regeneration. My hypothesis is the scar is inhibitory to regeneration in the retina. To test this hypothesis, I will investigate scar formation in mice and zebrafish. Mice and other mammals form scars in response to retinal injury. In contrast, zebrafish respond to retinal injury with a robust regenerative response. Microglial cells are surveyors of the retinal environment and they are believed to initiate the scar forming response in mammals. In this proposal we will compare the microglial cell response to a laser induced model of retinal injury in mice and zebrafish.
Our specific aims are to (1) define the resident microglia response to injury in both organisms, (2) identify secreted factors which stimulate scar formation in an in vitro model, and (3) determine if inducing scar formation in zebrafish will inhibit retinal regeneration. This grant will allow us to better understand the different injury responses between these two species and will yield important information for future regenerative therapies in humans.

Public Health Relevance

The scar response in the retina may be inhibitory to therapeutic regenerative efforts. Defining the cellular and molecular determinants of scar formation will lead to new treatments in retinal regeneration and other cellular therapies in the retina.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1-VSN (01))
Program Officer
Agarwal, Neeraj
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Cleveland Clinic Lerner
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Bell, Brent A; Yuan, Alex; Dicicco, Rose M et al. (2016) The adult zebrafish retina: In vivo optical sectioning with Confocal Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy and Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography. Exp Eye Res 153:65-78
Edmond, Michaela; Yuan, Alex; Bell, Brent A et al. (2016) The Feasibility of Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography Grading of Anterior Chamber Inflammation in a Rabbit Model of Anterior Uveitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57:OCT184-8
DiCicco, Rose M; Bell, Brent A; Kaul, Charles et al. (2014) Retinal regeneration following OCT-guided laser injury in zebrafish. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55:6281-8
Bell, Brent A; Xie, Jing; Yuan, Alex et al. (2014) Retinal vasculature of adult zebrafish: in vivo imaging using confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy. Exp Eye Res 129:107-18