Research Summary

The Carl Camras Center for Innovative Clinical Trials is a dedicated center of excellence for clinical research. This center will enable the department to bring scientific breakthroughs to patients in clinical studies. The research team has expertise in conducting clinical trials that lead to novel therapies for a variety of eye diseases. New therapies developed by the research scientists in the Truhlsen Eye Research Laboratories, in UNMC’s Durham Research Center, also will be brought to patients in clinical trials.

Retina Research Team:

The Carl Camras research team has expertise in conducting clinical trials that has led to the development of new treatments for eye diseases such as:

Glaucoma Research Team: Carol Toris, Ph.D., and Shan Fan, M.D., Vikas Gulati, M.D.

The research team studies the effects of glaucoma on fluid flow within the eye and how it can be treated with different medications, lasers and drainage devices.

Other studies are focused on the circadian and postural regulation of eye pressure and drainage in the eye, pressure lowering mechanisms of new medications and the potential contribution of diabetes to glaucoma damage.

Yet other studies are looking at the effects of glaucoma and drug therapy on ocular blood flow, the influence of growth, puberty and racial background on normal physiological fluid flow in the eye, and comparison of clinical techniques to measure intraocular pressure.

Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D., vice chairman for research

Dr. Thoreson’s lab combines state-of-the-art electrophysiological and imaging techniques to study the physiology of retinal neurons and vision.

His research focuses on the essential role calcium channels and glutamate receptors play in sending visual messages to the brain from the rods and cones in the eye. Over-stimulation of these channels and receptors can promote nerve cell damage due to stroke, ischemia and in a number of eye diseases including glaucoma.

Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine: Iqbal Ahmad, Ph.D.

Dr. Ahmad’s lab is focused on understanding and finding new ways to treat retinal degeneration that causes devastating vision loss in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma, using stem cells.

His lab explores a variety of approaches that might one day be used to treat degenerative changes simply by activating stem cells that exist in adult retina or by transplanting stem cells from other sources such as limbal and ES/iPS cells, grown in the lab.

They are advancing new ways to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration through targeted therapy that has been shown to reduce abnormal blood vessel formation in animal models.

Lens Research Team:  Dhirendra (D.P.) Singh, Ph.D.

Recent studies have found that age-related cataracts, which develop in more than 90 percent of individuals over age 70, are associated with something called the unfolded protein response. Depressed blood circulation can induce this response in elderly patients and may contribute to age-related cataract formation.

The researchers have identified a protein, peroxiredoxin, as critical for preventing oxidative damage that can cause cataracts and other degenerative disorders. This protein is a therapeutic target for treating age-associated eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.