NOV 17, 2016 07:00 AM PST

Using patient-derived iPSCs to model and treat inherited retinal degenerative blindness

  • Stephen A. Wynn Associate Professor of Regenerative Ophthalmology, Director Steven W. Dezii Translational Vision Research Facility, Wynn Institute for Vision Research, Department of Ophthal
      Dr. Tucker was born and raised in a small fishing village (population of less than 100) on the northern tip of Newfoundland, Canada. He attended Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook Newfoundland, where in 2001 as an undergraduate student he received his bachelor's degree in Psychology. In 2006 Dr. Tucker went on to complete his Ph.D. degree in neuroscience at Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Medicine. He subsequently completed a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, where in 2009 under the mentorship of Dr. Michael J. Young he was promoted to the rank of faculty. In 2010 Dr. Tucker joined the Department at the University of Iowa where he is currently an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Dr. Tucker has a long-standing interest in the treatment of inherited retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Stargardt disease, Usher Syndrome, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). His lab is focused on combining state-of-the-art patient-specific stem cell, gene augmentation/genome editing, and tissue engineering based technologies to develop treatments for inherited retinal degenerative blindness.


    Inherited retinal degenerative disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa are characterized by death of the light sensing photoreceptive neurons of the outer retina. Like the rest of the CNS, the retina has little capacity for endogenous regeneration, and as a result, photoreceptor cell death causes debilitating irreversible blindness. Gene augmentation has the potential to prevent photoreceptor cell death, while cell replacement could actually repopulate the retina with new functioning photoreceptor cells and restore vision. In this talk I will show how we are using patient-specific iPSCs to evaluate disease pathophysiology, test novel gene-based therapeutics and develop autologous photoreceptor cell replacement for the treatment of retinal degenerative blindness.

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