William J. Brunken, PhD, Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Director of the Center for Vision Research, has been elected to serve on the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology's Research Director's Council for five years.
Dr. William J. Brunken was named the Vice Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.

Why Retinal Cells Develop


The Viczian lab wants to understand why a group of seemingly similar cells in the early embryonic eye choose to become one retinal cell type and not another. In collaboration with the Zuber lab, the Viczian team discovered that one protein, Noggin, could replace the eye field transcription factors (EFTFs) in generating an entire functional eye from pluripotent cells in frog. Her group is now looking at this molecular mechanism, as well as, using this and other proteins to generate specific retinal cells in culture. They are particularly interested in cone photoreceptors. Cones are necessary for seeing during the day. Replacing these cells in blind or nearly blind individuals could restore daylight vision. The challenge is to understand the key factors in the embryonic environment necessary to recreate this milieu in the petri dish. The successful completion of this work could provide a plentiful source of the sight-saving cells for cell replacement therapy.


Dr. Viczian has received a Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, an E. Matilda Zeigler Foundation for the Blind Award and a Marshall-Sherfield Fellowship. She collaborates with researchers from the University of California - Davis, Florida State University and the University of Surrey, London UK. She has refereed for Journal of Anatomy, Developmental Dynamics and has critiqued grant applications from the Medical Research Council in the UK.



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