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Retina Research at SUNY Gets $2M Boost

The grant will support “an endogenous cell replacement strategy for retinal regeneration.”




Retina Research at SUNY Gets $2M Boost

Dr. Stefanie Wohl

SUNY College of Optometry’s Dr. Stefanie Wohl received a $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute to bolster her research into regenerating retinal neurons to restore eyesight.

This grant will fund research on “an endogenous cell replacement strategy for retinal regeneration,” according to a press release.

Retinal diseases often lead to visual impairment or blindness requiring medical intervention to regenerate the retina and restore vision. Dr. Wohl’s research focuses on an endogenous cell type, called Müller glia, that can function as a stem cell-like cell and replace lost neurons after damage – a natural phenomenon occurring in some species of fish, but dormant in mammals including humans. Dr. Wohl will use molecules called microRNAs to reprogram Müller glia into stem cells-like cells that subsequently differentiate into retinal neurons to replace the lost neuronal cells.

Participating as collaborators in the project will be Dr. Miduturu Srinivas, professor, and Dr. Suresh Viswanathan, chair of the Department of Biological and Vision sciences. The team will evaluate the electrophysiological properties of the newly generated neurons.

“I am honored and grateful to receive this grant which will advance our team’s efforts to explore the underlying mechanisms of retinal regeneration,” Wohl said. “Support from the NIH will allow us to decipher further aspects of the gene-regulatory networks of retinal development and make substantial strides in the field of regenerative medicine. With this funding, we hope to bring the medical community one step closer to the long-term goal of effectively treat patients suffering from retinal ailments like glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa.


College President Dr. David A. Heath said, “We are exceptionally proud of our research program, Dr. Wohl’s work, and receiving this highly-competitive grant. We look forward to continuing to serve as not only a world-class hub for optometric care, but an engine for breakthroughs in the research and study of eye-related diseases and conditions.”

The National Eye Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health.


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