curcio wdeb

White-McKee Endowed Professor in Ophthalmology; Professor; Director of the AMD Histopathology Lab

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

Dr. Curcio focuses on aging and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the third largest cause of vision loss worldwide. Publications have included retinal cell biology, lipoprotein biology, clinical image validation, neurodegeneration, epidemiology, and transcriptomics. She has partnered for 25 years with the Alabama Eye Bank, a large eye bank and industry leader in rapid tissue recovery for research. Key findings include demonstrating that rod photoreceptors die before cones in aging and AMD and discovering and characterizing lipoproteins of ocular origin that constitute the main pathway of soft drusen, AMD’s pathognomonic lesions. She contributed the first comprehensive histological description of subretinal drusenoid deposit, a previously unrecognized layer of AMD pathology. Recently her lab with clinical collaborators validated optical coherence tomography and quantitative fundus autofluorescence, two imaging technologies essential to AMD diagnosis and management, and developed the first timeline of geographic atrophy, a currently untreatable AMD end-stage. She created an open access web-based digital microscope of AMD histopathology, www.projectmacula.

Dr. Curcio has authored >150 peer-reviewed articles and presented original data at vision meetings every year since 1985. She serves on the editorial boards of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Retina the Journal of VitreoRetinal Disease. She is a charter member of Disease and Pathology of Visual Study section for the National Institutes of Health. Her research has been funded by the National Eye Institute, Research to Prevent Blindness, International Retinal Research Foundation, Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation Awards Program, Beckman Initiative for Macular Research, Macula Vision Research Foundation, and the Macula Foundation, and corporate partners.

Dr. Curcio obtained an Sc.B. in Biology from Brown University and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a PhD in Neurobiology and Anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1981 under the supervision of Paul Coleman, PhD. After post-doctoral work at the Boston University School of Medicine with James Hinds, PhD, she spent 6 year as research faculty at the University of Washington, where she began retina research in the laboratory of Anita Hendrickson, PhD. Her digital maps of human retinal neurons are widely cited foundational studies for visual neuroscience. In 1990, Dr. Curcio joined the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Honors include 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), Prix Soubrane de la Recherche en Ophtalmologie (2011), and the Ludwig Von Sallmann Prize (2014) for lifetime contributions to vision research.

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