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Areas of Interest
using cell and molecular approaches to better understand retinal aging and the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Michael E. Boulton, PhD, and his research team joined the faculty in 2017 to expand the ongoing basic and translational within the Department using a range of cell, molecular and animal models to better understand retinal pathophysiology and to improve treatment of retinal diseases. Dr. Boulton has over 25 years of experience in studying pathobiology of retinal degeneration in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, has published over 200 peer review articles and is well funded by NIH and other agencies. His research is focused on three broad areas; 1) RPE responses to oxidative stress and the potential for RPE regeneration/regeneration, 3) the importance of circadian rhythmicity in retinal repair and regeneration and 3) identifying the factors that regulate retinal and choroidal neovascularization.  

Dr. Boulton is a native of Devon, England and received his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology with Chemistry from Reading University, UK (1974). Following a spell in Pharma, he received his PhD in Vision Science in a collaboration between the Polytechnic of Central London and the Institute of Ophthalmology, London in 1982. Dr. Boulton then moved to the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Manchester before relocating to Cardiff University as Head of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences.  In 2006, he transitioned to the US as Professor and Director of the AMD Center at UTMB, Galveston. He subsequently moved to University of Florida and Indiana University before settling at UAB.

Service to Science

Dr. Boulton is on the Editorial Boards of PloS One, Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Graefe’s Arch Ophthalmology and Molecular Neurobiology.  He also frequently reviews for a wide range of cell biology and vision science journals. He is also a regular grant reviewer for the National Eye Institute and has recently completed a full term of Basic Vision Science Study Section as Chair and continues to adhoc as a reviewer for a range of NIH programs.  He also reviews for a range of foundations and charities as well as advising a range of domestic and international bodies. 

Personal Information

Dr. Boulton is married to Dr. Maria Grant, an endocrinologist who also has an extensive NIH-funded research program in the Department which is primarily focused on diabetic retinopathy. They have children, grandchildren, cats, dogs, and horses. Dr. Boulton is a keen hunter and fisherman as well as a first class groom and farm hand!!  Both are avid Gator fans!

Research Program

Dr. Boulton’s research is extending upon a number of seminal observations made by his research group: A) that mouse hematopoietic stem cells programmed with a unique differentiation factor, when injected back into the circulation, home to the retina and repair the injured retinal pigment epithelial  (RPE) cell monolayer and restore vision in mouse models of retinal injury; B) retinal repair and regeneration is under circadian control and that this is dysregulated in aging and AMD; C) lipofuscin is a photoinducible generator of reactive oxygen species and is implicated in AMD; D) autophagy is dysregulated in AMD and diabetic retinopathy; E) in endothelial cells, a dynamic translocation of VEGFRs to adherens junctions (AJs) and the nucleus occurs which is dependent on the balance of growth factors in the local microenvironment; F) the ratio of VEGFR1:VEGFR2 is a major determinant of vascular permeability and angiogenesis; G) bone marrow-derived cells play a critical role in retinal regeneration and these cells are defective in diabetes; H) retinal vascular homeostasis and aberrant neovascularization are, in part, dependent on circadian rhythmicity and regulated by clock genes. All these projects are ongoing and the results of this work will improve our understanding of retinal pathophysiology and hopefully lead to improved therapeutic intervention in retinal diseases.

Education & Training

Undergraduate Degree
University of Reading, United Kingdom

Graduate Degree
Polytechnic of Central London, United Kingdom (Ph.D.)

Fight for Sight Fellow, Department of Visual Science, Institute of Ophthalmology, United Kingdom 

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