Areas of Interest
aging and age-related macular degeneration — pathogenesis, image validation, and genomics

Dr. Curcio is professor of ophthalmology, Eminent Scholar in Retina, and director of the AMD Histopathology Lab. Capitalizing on the eye bank as a resource, her research focuses on aging, age-related macular degeneration with emphasis on pathobiology, image validation through histology, and collaborative genomics studies.

Dr. Curcio has authored or co-authored more than 90 journal articles and has presented abstracts at vision meetings every year since 1985. She has given around 150 invited lectures at major meetings, congresses and universities in North America and Europe. Dr. Curcio serves on the editorial boards of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Current Eye Research and Progress in Retinal and Eye Research. She serves as permanent member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Eye Institute, and starting in February 2014 she serves as a charter member of Disease and Pathology of Visual Study section.

Her research has been funded by the National Eye InstituteResearch to Prevent BlindnessInternational Retinal Research Foundation, Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation Awards Program, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Initiative for Macular ResearchMacula Vision Research Foundation, and industry.

Dr. Curcio obtained her undergraduate degree in biology from Brown University in 1972. She attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1981 under the supervision of Paul Coleman, Ph.D. After post-doctoral work at the Boston University School of Medicine with James Hinds, Ph.D., she spent six years at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she began anatomical studies of the human retina that are now widely cited, in the laboratory of Anita Hendrickson, Ph.D. In 1990, Dr. Curcio joined the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, where she is now a professor. 

Dr. Curcio has been awarded the University of Washington School of Medicine, Science in Medicine - New Investigator (1988), the Roger H. Johnson Prize in Macular Degeneration Research from University of Washington (2002), Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Silver Fellow (2009) and Gold Fellow (2010), and the Prix Soubrane de la Recherche en Ophtalmologie (2011).  


Dr. Curcio is a native of Huntington, N.Y. She is married to Kenneth Sloan, associate professor of computer and information science at UAB. Together they have raised two accomplished sons, David and Peter, both now living in California. Dr. Curcio plays the flute and piccolo in three Birmingham-area community bands.

Research Program

Dr. Curcio's research focuses on aging and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of vision loss in the elderly that affects more Americans than cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. Through a two-decade relationship with the Alabama Eye Bank, her lab has contributed unique observations on human eyes with AMD. These include identifying that the earliest affected photoreceptors are rods, discovering and characterizing a cholesterol-rich LDL-like lipoprotein made by the eye (with M. Johnson, Northwestern University), and characterizing lesions specific to the disease. This has resulted in the first biochemical model for the main pathway of drusen and basal linear deposit (an apolipoprotein B and E containing lipoprotein), and the first major histological description for subretinal drusenoid deposit, a heretofore unrecognized layer of AMD pathology. Current research focuses on the cell and tissue basis of clinical AMD imaging, specifically optical coherence tomography (through histology available at the Project MACULA website) and fundus autofluorescence (through quantitative histological autofluorescence).

Project MACULA (Maculopathy Unveiled through Laminar Analysis)
Research Materials

Education & Training

Undergraduate Degree
Brown University, Biology

Graduate Degree
University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Rochester, Ph.D., Anatomy

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Boston University, School of Medicine

Contact Information

Mailing Address
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1670 University Blvd., VH Office 360B
Birmingham, AL 35294

Physical Campus Address
360B Volker Hall