New Grant Tests Potential Target for Age-Related Blindness

Published in UConn Today, April 23, 2018

Royce Mohan, a UConn Health associate professor of neuroscience, has received more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of a specific enzyme in retinal gliosis.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 50 in many developed western countries, including 11 million Americans. Estimates predict that 196 million people worldwide will suffer from this condition by 2020. Retinal gliosis is a phenomenon that causes scarring and occurs in many eye diseases and also after injury.

With retinal gliosis, Muller glial cells become activated and can proliferate and become invasive. Gliosis has been observed in humans with AMD, as well as mouse models of AMD, signifying that a link exists between this process and the condition, but the details of the relationship remain unclear.

As AMD progresses people may begin to see a blurry spot at the center of their vision which will continue to develop into blank spots in one’s central vision. These effects are caused by damage to the macula, a one-mm sized tissue at the center of the retina that controls visual acuity. This loss of central vision interferes with every day tasks like reading, driving, and identifying faces. Elderly people lacking this central vision are also more prone to fall and break bones.  Learn more about this study.

Congratulations James Fink!

James Fink, Ph.D., graduate student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (Levine Lab) has double the reasons to celebrate. He not only successfully defended his doctoral defense on January 29, 2018, titled “Understanding Synaptic Pathophysiology and Hyperexcitability in Angelman and Chromosome 15q Duplication Syndromes Using Patient-Derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells”, but he was also selected as this year’s student commencement speaker. Congratulations James!

The University of Connecticut will hold its official commencement ceremony on Monday, May 7, 2018 at 1 p.m. The ceremony will be held on the Storrs Campus, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, Storrs, CT.

Read more about Dr. James Fink and the 2018 commencement.

Graduate Student (Knight) Splits SciArt Prize

Molecular Biochemistry and Biology (MBB) held their first ever SciArt contest. A number of beautiful art entries were submitted, and Brittany Knight, Graduate Student in the Department of Neuroscience (Baumbauer Lab) was one of two selected to split the BEST SciArt prize this year. Congratulations Brittany!

Checkout Brittany’s image, along with the many other great submissions, including co-winner, Valentina Baena (Cell Biology).