UABSO In the News
Optometry research associate’s study recognized at national conference
The work of Roy Joseph, Ph.D., was chosen as one of the top 3 percent of abstracts submitted at ARVO 2014.
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry research associate Roy Joseph, Ph.D., was recently recognized as having one of the top 3 percent of abstracts submitted at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting.
Joseph’s abstract, Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Normal and Keratoconus Corneal Fibroblasts using Viral- and Non-Viral Methods, was named an ARVO 2014 Emerging Trends and Hot Topics abstract, representing the newest and most innovative research being conducted in the various specialties.
The research is focused on keratoconus, a disease of the cornea that causes visual degradation and the inability to focus a clear image onto the retina; it can eventually require corneal transplantation, which Joseph says occurs in one in 2,000 people.
Joseph explains that corneal tissues are composed of collagen fibers laid in layers, sandwiching keratocyte cells. In culture, keratocytes normally become fibroblasts or scar cells. Joseph believes keratocyte abnormalities play a pivotal role in keratoconus.
"Our research utilizes reprogramming factors inducing these fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, by viral and non-viral methods. Using a variety of agents, these stem cells are then converted back into true corneal keratocytes,” Joseph said. “This conversion in tissue culture allows for a wealth of studies to further unravel the cellular mysteries in keratocytes from keratoconus.”
Joseph, who works in the laboratory of Om P. Srivastava, Ph.D., says his work is a “disease-in-a-dish” approach that could be a source for better understanding of corneal disease progression and correcting the genetic defects from this disease.
Pediatric optometry resident receives award
Jessie Dinkel, O.D., has been awarded the Terrance N. Ingraham Pediatric Optometry Residency Award, intended to promote the practice and development of the field.
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry pediatric optometry resident Jessie Dinkel, O.D., has received a Johnson & Johnson Vision Care 2014 Residency Award, according to the American Optometric Foundation.
Dinkel is one of three to be awarded the Terrance N. Ingraham Pediatric Optometry Residency Award, which is intended to promote the practice and development of the field of pediatric optometry by providing incentives and support to talented optometric residents who demonstrate a passion and commitment to practice, research and education in the field of children’s vision.
The 2014 residents selected were carefully chosen by peer review members from the American Academy of Optometry Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies, and the Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry Section; each receives $2,750 toward his or her graduate education that includes a $750 travel fellowship to attend Academy 2014 in Denver to be held Nov. 12-15.
UAB researcher awarded unusual grant to better understand how vision works
Lawrence Sincich, Ph.D., has been awarded $1.1 million to advance the technology for improved optical access and visual testing of the retina.
One University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry researcher is working toward a better understanding of how vision works with funding from an unusual type of R01 grant.
Lawrence Sincich, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Vision Sciences, has been awarded a new $1.1 million five-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute called a Bioengineering Research Partnership, which supports multiple labs to achieve a common goal. This collaboration includes researchers at two University of California campuses, Berkeley and San Francisco, as well as Montana State University.
“Vision begins with the array of photoreceptors in the retina, yet we have very limited access to those cells, which makes it difficult to fully understand how vision works, and how retinal pathology leads to visual dysfunction,” Sincich said.
Sincich, who is also studying the eye’s photoreceptors to better understand how color perception is ultimately achieved in the brain, is co-investigator on the BRP.
“The BRP proposes to develop three advanced instruments that will greatly improve optical access to the photoreceptors in the living eye, and enable experiments that will yield a fresh understanding of how vision works,” he said.
“Vision begins with the array of photoreceptors in the retina, yet we have very limited access to those cells, which makes it difficult to fully understand how vision works, and how retinal pathology leads to visual dysfunction.”
The instruments, Sincich says, incorporate two key technical strengths: adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) systems and accurate, high-speed eye-motion tracking.
“Together, these capabilities allow for the accurate visualization, tracking and delivery of light to retinal features as small as single cone photoreceptors, enabling the cellular basis of spatial and color vision to be studied with unprecedented resolution,” Sincich said.
There are two systems in the world with this capability, one at UAB and the other at UC Berkeley.
Full realization of these capabilities and broader use, however, requires a series of new and innovative technical advances as well as increased cooperation between the developers and the end users of the technology, Sincich says.
“The BRP accomplishes this by formally combining a group of labs with a proven track record of effective collaboration and with expertise in optics, engineering, electrophysiology, psychophysics, color vision, neuroscience and eye disease,” Sincich said. “In doing so, the BRP creates a uniquely effective pathway for translating newly gained knowledge and technology from an animal model to the psychophysics lab and then to a clinical setting.”
Optometry's Nowakowski receives high honor from the Lions of Alabama
Rod W. Nowakowski is recognized for contributions to society that exceed his professional obligations.
Nowakowski, second from left, received the Aubrey D. Green Humanitarian award alongside his wife, Dr. Debi Nowakowski, at the Lions of Alabama annual convention on May 17, 2014.Rod W. Nowakowski, O.D., Ph.D., former dean of the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was awarded the Aubrey D. Green Humanitarian Award by the Lions of Alabama during its annual Multiple District Convention.
This award is presented to a non-member citizen or native of Alabama who has made a significant contribution to society beyond the obligations of occupation or profession. Such contributions may include, but are not limited to, the promotion of human welfare, the alleviation of human suffering and the advancement of social reforms. The recipient is selected by the committee from nominees submitted within the past five years.
“Aubrey D. Green, the namesake for the award, was a decorated WWII combat veteran, an Alabama State Senator and a business entrepreneur who also served as International Lions Club president,” Nowakowski said. “He set a very high standard for service and the prior recipients of this award are icons of service and achievement. I am truly honored and humbled to be counted among them.”
Kraft invited to join national study section
UAB Vision Sciences faculty member will serve with other leaders in his field from across the United States for a term lasting until June 2018.
Timothy Kraft, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Vision Sciences, was selected for membership in the Biology of the Visual System Study Section, Center for Scientific Review.
This study section reviews National Institutes of Health grant applications on basic biological studies of the visual system, where the major focus is on elucidation of fundamental mechanisms in the normal visual function and/or within the context of disease. Study sections also make recommendations to the appropriate NIH advisory council or board and survey the status of research in their fields of science.
Members are selected on the basis of demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors.
Kraft’s term will begin July 1, 2014, and end June 30, 2018.