Chris Girkin, MD,MSPH
i. Chair; Director of the Optic Nerve and Retina Imaging Center
Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D.
i. Director, Clinical Research Unit in Ophthalmology
Christine Curcio, Ph.D.
i. Director, Age-related Maculopathy Histopathology Laboratory
ii. Scientific Director, Alabama Eye Bank
The UAB Department of Ophthalmology is committed to serving the eye health needs of the people of Alabama and beyond through excellence in patient care, research, and education.
The department continues to build on its three core missions. There is ongoing growth of both clinical and research faculty and commensurate expansion of space and associate resources to fund this growth. The department continues to work with the university and private philanthropy to provide support for its exciting and innovative programs.
The department views its future as one of unparalleled opportunity. The ingredients are all at hand to engage in state of the art patient care, remain a leader in ophthalmic education, and engage in cutting edge vision science research.
The UAB Ophthalmology facility offers expertise and assistance in the following research capabilities:
- Excellence in research on age-related eye disease: Clinical, epidemiological, and surgical expertise in glaucoma (ophthalmology);
- Expertise in patient recruitment, tracking, and visual function testing (ophthalmology);
- Expertise in histopathology, electron microscopy, and morphometry (ophthalmology);
- Expertise in instrument design, testing, and validation (ophthalmology, vision testing);
- Expertise in mouse models of retinal disease (optometry)
In eye research: optical coherence tomography (current clinical/ research grade commercial instruments, instruments under development for adaptive optics- scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, functional imaging via intrinsic optical signals)
The Optic Nerve and Retinal Imaging Center (ONRIC) in the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital (CEFH) serves as a regional clinical resource and provides support for basic and clinical research endeavors that utilize ocular imaging modalities. The center currently has three spectral domain optic coherence tomography (SDOCT) units, scanning laser polarimetry, and confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy. These modalities provide a comprehensive suite of imaging approaches that visualize and quantify retinal and optic nerve structures at the near-cellular level, in addition to providing imaging of the anterior segment (cornea, lens, iris).
For bench research, a separate SDOCT unit within the newly occupied vision science research space in Volker Hall supports ongoing research in animal models and human donor tissues to validate imaging approaches and define new imaging related biomarkers for glaucoma and retinal disease. These resources have supported several NIH- and industry-sponsored projects in Ophthalmology, Optometry, Vision Science, Medicine, and Neurology. In the Volker Hall space, new instrumentation for non-invasive, contrast-agent-free imaging of retinal function is being developed by investigators from Bioengineering, Vision Science, and Ophthalmology.
Recently, Dr Yuhua Zhang developed the capabilities for in vivo adaptive optics confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOCSLO) at UAB. One AOCSLO unit is dedicated for use in clinical research at the CEFH and a second unit is dedicated for animal imaging at Volker Hall. This technology can provide cellular level imaging and stimulation in a living human or animal subject and is applicable to a wide variety of vascular, neurologic and ocular conditions including hypertension, diabetes, AIDS, neurodegenerative diseases, tumors, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and retinal degenerations such age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, this technology can also be used for functional stimulation of the retina for clinical research in low vision, basic neuroscience, and psychophysical research exploring the response of the retina and visual brain.
Common to the other imaging resources outlined in this overview, such as histological section automating and reconstruction, image processing, segmentation, quantification of 3-dimensional structure, transfer and storage capabilities would enhance the growth of this resource and facilitate expansion into new collaborative research.