Dr. Ram H. Nagaraj’s laboratory investigates two major complications of the eye: cataract and diabetic retinopathy. The first project on cataract is to understand the biochemical and molecular mechanisms by which UV light causes cataract and develop pharmacological methods to prevent such cataracts. The second project is to determine the role of lens capsule in the development of secondary cataracts, a complication in 20 to 30% of patients after cataract surgery. A related project is to determine the biochemical basis for the anti-apoptotic and chaperone activities of small heat shock proteins, including α-crystallin of the lens.
The project on diabetic retinopathy is to understand the role of inflammatory pathways in neurovascular damage in retina. Dr. Nagaraj’s laboratory has identified a new inflammation-mediated biochemical pathway that promotes apoptosis of retinal capillary cells in diabetes. Efforts are directed toward developing inhibitors of this pathway in cell culture systems and animal models with the goal of preventing diabetic retinopathy at early stages of the disease. A related project investigates biochemical mechanisms and prevention of ischemic neurovascular damage in diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. In all these projects, state-of-the-art analytical methods along with genetically modified cells and animal models are being employed.
For a full list of publications from the laboratory, please click here.