The book “Animal Models of Ophthalmic Diseases” edited byDR. CC Chanis just published by Springer (http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319194332 ). This book describes experimental animal models that mimic common human ocular diseases: herpetic keratitis, cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, retinitis pigmentosa, Graves’ disease, and intraocular tumors. In conjunction, these models reflect the diversity and utility of tools used to study human disease. World expert clinicians discuss each model based on their clinical experience and the text is supported by many photos and diagrams. In describing the most pertinent animal models of ophthalmic diseases, this book will be of interest to ophthalmologists, vision researchers, fellows, residents and medical students.People's Medical Publishing House Co., Ltd will publish the Chinese translation of the book, which CHEN Danian of West China Hospital and WEI Lai of ZOC will co-edit. We believe that the bookwould help students, fellows, and researchers to better perform various animal experiments of common ocular diseases. We deeply appreciate your recommendation the book to your students, fellows, and colleagues with your influence, help and support. Please let us know what and how we could do better. Thank you very much.

由国际眼科权威、OCAVER荣誉主席、美国国立眼科研究所陈之昭教授主编的新书“Animal Models of Ophthalmic Disease”            刚刚在美国出版(http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319194332 )。中文版“眼科疾病的动物模型”由陈大年和魏来教授翻译,将于2016年春由人民卫生出版社出版。本书是最新的关于眼病动物模型的专著,由各领域顶级专家撰写,附有国际顶尖眼科医生的评价,是连接临床和基础研究的桥梁。本书主要描述了几种主要眼科疾病的实验动物模型,包括疱疹性角膜炎、白内障、青光眼、老年黄斑变性、糖尿病视网膜病变、葡萄膜炎、视网膜色素变性、Graves眼病和眼内肿瘤。标准的动物模型对于眼科疾病诊治的研究如药物试验非常重要,也是疾病发病机制研究的重要手段。相信本书会得到广大眼科医生、研究人员和眼科和相关学科研究生的喜爱,对于规范眼科临床和基础研究起到重要作用。希望同道们大力宣传推荐。谢谢。


Contributors of the Book:

Mary E. Aronow, Rebeca S. Bahn,J. Paul Banga, Utta Berchner-Pfannschmidt, Scott Bowman, Jinfeng Cao, Kate L. Carroll, Rachel R. Caspi, Nathalie Cassoux, Chi-Chao Chan, Bo Chang, Mei Chen, Emily Y. Chew, Sarah E. Coupland, Nadine E. de Waard, Didier Decaudin, Raymond S. Douglas, Anja Eckstein, Charles E. Egwuagu, Shivani Gupta, Robert L. Hendricks, Edward J. Holland, Martine J. Jager, Thomas V. Johnson, Helen Kalirai, Jennifer L. Kielczewski, Yizhi Liu, Noemi Lois, Sheldon Miller, John C. Morrison, Sajad Moshkelgosha, Rohini M. Nair, Robert B. Nussenblatt, Alexander M. Rowe, Florian Sennlaub, Paul A. Sieving, Arun D. Singh, Alan Stitt, Stanislav I. Tomarev, Wietske van der Ent, Judith West-Mays, Wai T. Wong, Hua Yang, Hongmin Yun

Newsletter 2015-3
Newsletter 2013#3

   Dr. Jingtai Cao is Associate Director of Ophthalmology in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. USA and he is selected as the award recipient of the 2012 OCAVER Outstanding Achievement in Vision and Eye Research. He received his medical degree from Hebei Medical University and his Ph.D. degree in from Beijing University in China. Dr. Cao completed his Post-doctoral fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and subsequently appointed as Instructor, then Adjunct Assistant Professor in Department of Ophthalmology, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Jingtai Cao has a wide range of clinical and basic research experiences in ocular diseases. Through his academic life, he holds 18 patents and applications from the United States, Europe and other countries. Dr. Cao is the recipient of a number of awards in Ophthalmology Society. He has also published over 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers, book chapters, and abstracts on eye diseases. Dr. Cao is an active member of several professional organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT), and the International Society for Eye Research (ISER), the Chinese Ophthalmology Society (COS), and Overseas Chinese Association for Vision and Eye Research (OCAVER). He has served as the board member of OCAVER since 2006, and served on the Scientific Policy Subcommittee of the Advocacy Committee of ARVO (2004-2007). Since 2005, Dr. Cao also donated his time to serve as Judge of Westchester Science and Engineering Fair in New York. 

   Since 2000, Dr. Cao has been engaged in instituting the ophthalmology research team at Regeneron, created various animal models of eye diseases, and optimized in vivo evaluating systems for drug discovery and development. With his innovations and leadership in preclinical research, one of the great contribution and achievements is the VEGF Trap-Eye, an anti-VEGF drug for neovascular Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which has been approved by FDA in November 2011. During working at the company, he has been promoted as Staff Scientist, Senior. Staff scientist and Associate Director. Dr. Cao’s research interests include new drug discovery and development for treatment of ocular vascular diseases, inflammation and neuroprotection.

   During 1994-2000, Dr. Cao joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University. He was granted with Award of the Fight for Sight Fellowship of America and the Michael B. Panitch Fund to Stop Macular Degeneration. His research expended further to human ocular angiogenesis, sickle cell retinopathy, diabetic choriocapillaris degeneration, and human neural retinal transplantation. During working at Wilmer, he also created various animal models to explore the mechanism and pathologic process of the human eye diseases. His main findings:  (1) the polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) contribute to vaso-occlusive processes, capillary dropout and ischemia, and endothelial cell injury in the diabetic choroid, revealed the role of inflammation in diabetic retinopathy (in 1997). (2) Inflammation also is involved in process of age-related macular degeneration (in 2000). These findings from his earlier research have been confirmed by scientists from other institutions.

    Before working at Wilmer Eye Institute, Dr. Cao has been an active attending ophthalmologist in China. His residence training was at the Xingtai Eye Hospital and received his Master degree in Ophthalmology in Hebei Medical University. He is a recipient of a National Grant from the Science Fund of the Chinese Academy of Sciences which funded his frontier research into lacquer crack lesion in the fundus of progressive myopia, and from Hebei Advance Science and Technology Awards in recognition of his research on Myopia; He also received various PLA Advance Science and Technology Awards in recognize of his contribution in glaucoma research.  During his Ph.D. program, he focused on studies of the roles and mechanism of growth factors in the pathogenesis of proliferative retinopathies using in vivo and in vitro methodology from cell culture, histopathology to molecular biology. He received Kwang-Hua Scholarship and the Special-Grand Award in Beijing University. He has been selected as “The Famous Doctor in China”, the first reference book of high rank professional in Medicine in 1995. Dr. Cao has collaborated with several research institutions or hospitals in China. In recent years, he has also been invited to give lectures in Hong Kong, Beijing, Chongqing, Shijiazhuang, and Xingtai. He also gave a training course in Tianjin Eye Center in 2009 for graduate students. Dr. Cao is currently severs as the Editor-in Chief for the Newsletter of OCAVER for 2011- 2012.




   Dr. Wei Li is 38 years old and a principal investigator in NIH; he is selected as the award recipient of the 2012 OCAVER Outstanding Young Investigator in Vision and Eye Research. Dr. Li received his M.D. from Zhejiang University Medical School in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Visual Neuroscience from University of Texas at Houston in 2003. He received postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. Steven DeVries at Northwestern University from 2003-2007. in 2007, he came to the NEI as a tenure track Principal Investigator.  Dr. Li and his group are exploiting a combination of anatomical and physiological approaches to study synaptic connectivity using in vitro slice and flat-mount preparation of the ground squirrel retina, an excellent model system to study the cone vision, as ground squirrel is one of the rare mammals whose retina is cone-dominated and resembles the fovea of human retina.

   Dr. Li serves as chair of NEI cores users committee and he plays a key leadership role in communications between NEI researchers and core facilities. He is a frequent reviewer for many high-impact journals as well as major funding agencies such as NSF. He has served as session chairs in many international conferences in this field, e.g., ICER, European Retinal Meeting, Winter Brain Conference, etc. Dr. Li has a broad academic communications with neuroscientists and vision researchers in China. These attributes make him an excellent candidate for OCAVER Young Investigator Award.

May, 2011

Research Achievements

 Dr. Chen Zhao obtained his M.D. degree from Beijing University School of Medicine in 1997. After 5 years residency training in the Department of Ophthalmology in TongRen Hospital, Dr. Zhao launched his Ph.D. study in Tianjin Medical University majored in the Human genetics. During the period of Ph.D. study, he went to Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where he spent 2 years as a visiting student under the guidance of Prof. Catharina Larsson, who is a member of the review board of Nobel Medicine Prize. Dr. Zhao has successfully discovered the genetic mechanism in a large number of families with various Hereditary Retinal Degenerations (HRDs). His brilliant works yield him a number of publications in the leading scientific journals (see appendix).


Bearing a great interest of molecular research of retinal degenerations, Dr. Zhao selected to continue his research in Stanford University in 2007, right after Ph.D study. In addition to continue the genetic study of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), he began to investigate the pathogenic mechanism of complex retinal degeneration (e.g. age-related macular degeneration, AMD) by using genetic mice tools. He has been leading investigators for two projects including the “Genetic Studies of TIMP3 in Exudative Macular Disease” and “Study of Retinal Degeneration in Mice Due to Loss of Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) Mitochondrial Energy Production”.


Up to date, Dr. Zhao’s major scientific achievements include 1) The identification of SNRNP200 gene (p. hBrr2) as a novel adRP-causing gene, and in particular, the discovery of molecular basis for adRP caused by pre-messenger RNA splicing defect. A number of splicing factors were known to cause adRP with very high prevalence but the knowledge regarding the mechanism was extremely poor before Dr. Zhao’s study. Thus, this study, for the first time, provide a fundamental pathogenesis mechanism of splicing factors-related adRP that is derived from a defect in hBrr2-dependent RNA unwinding and a consequent defect in spliceosome activation. This work was published in the Journal of American Human Genetics (Am. J. Hum. Genet. 85:617-627, 2009). 2) Reveal an in vivo response of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) to diverse stressors that prolongs RPE cell survival at the expense of epithelial attributes and photoreceptor function. This is a novel pathogenesis mechanism of AMD to challenge the prevailing central tenet that emphasizes the role of RPE death. More importantly, these findings point out the inhibition of the mTOR pathway as a promising therapeutic strategy for AMD and other retinal degenerative diseases involving RPE stress. This outstanding work was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (12/7/2010, Epub ahead on line).


Dr. Zhao has also made important contributions to strengthen US-China relationship in regarding to the collaboration on ophthalmology education and vision research. He has been involved in launching the education program for Chinese ophthalmologists, which is operated by the Chinese Ophthalmology Society (COS) and American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS). This program is going very well and has provided great beneficial for local China Ophthalmologists. In addition, Dr. Zhao has also facilitated the research collaborations for Tianjin Eye Hospital and Tianjin Medical University with several partners including Prof. Jonathan Staley’s lab in University of Chicago, Prof. Douglas Vollrath’s lab in Stanford University, Prof. Qing Wang’s lab in the Cleveland Heart Center, Prof. Ji-jing Pang’s lab in University of Florida and Prof. Li-jin Dong’s lab in National Eye Institute. All of the collaborations have been extensively helpful, which can be demonstrated by a number of publications with high impact. The collaborations are still ongoing with Dr. Zhao being the key person. The collaborations will certainly be critical to improve the quality of China local research works in future. 

May 2010

The New idea from Dr. Dong Chen, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Schepens Eye Research Institute, USA.

Blame epigenetic, not your genes


A commonly accepted definition of epigenetics would be the study of heritable changes that are not caused by changes in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA. Epigenetics studies the additional layers of information on top of the bare genomic sequence that permit the cells to respond to certain environmental cues and confer phenotypic plasticity. It has become clear that epigenetic changes play a key role in normal development as well as in disease processes.


With this being said, I will cite the words of Thomas Jenuwein (Vienna, Austria): "The difference between genetics and epigenetics can probably be compared to the difference between writing and reading a book. Once a book is written, the text (the genes or DNA: stored information) will be the same in all the copies distributed to the interested audience. However, each individual reader of a given book may interpret the story slightly differently, with varying emotions and projections as they continue to unfold the chapters."

Thus, epigenetic modification of gene expression has allowed us the opportunity to take in charge, at least in part, of our genome that we inherit from parents.


From November 2009

Contribution from OCAVER Board member Kang Zhang, MD PhD

Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, obtained his B.S. in Sichuan University in China in 1985.  He was the first Mainland Chinese student to earn both M.D. and PhD degrees from Harvard University and MIT since 1949.  He was the first Mainland Chinese to completed residency training in ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University since 1949.  He completed his retina fellowship at University of Utah.  He was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and University of Utah.  He is currently the Director of The Institute for Genomic Medicine, and Professor of Ophthalmology and Human Genetics at University of California San Diego.  

His honors include Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research; Chang Jiang Scholar Award, Lew Wasserman Merit Award from Research to Prevent Blindness; Charles Schepens Award for Excellence in Retina Research; and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Clinician Scientist Award.   He is a member of Macula Society, American Society of Clinical Investigation, and ASRS.  His research focuses on novel disease gene targets and therapies in macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and inherited retinal degenerations.  He has numerous grants from NIH, and other foundations.  He is a world leader in novel eye disease gene discovery and therapeutics development.  Dr. Zhang has published or co-authored more than 70 peer reviewed manuscripts in top journals including Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine, Cell, Genes and Development, PNAS, JCI -- covering topics in genetics, molecular biology, and clinical trials in ophthalmology.   His discovery of the HTRA1 gene as a major genetic risk factor for macular degeneration was named among Breakthroughs of the Year by the journal Science in 2006. 

Dr. Kang Zhang delivered a presentation on Capitol  Hill; 2009

Contribution from OCAVER Board member M H. Viet Tran, MD

Molecular diagnosis and management of inherited retinal diseases.

Some of interested topic in the study of inherited retinal disease include:  Exploring the effects of specific genetic mutations on retinal function in man using detailed psychophysics, retinal imaging and electrophysiology. Dr.Tran Current interests are in Leber�s Congenital Amaurosis and other forms of severe early onset retinal dystrophies, cone and cone rod dystrophies and inherited macular dystrophies.

 Developing new translational treatments for patient with retinal disease.

 Susceptibility genetic factors in age-related macular degeneration.

Contribution from OCAVER Board member Hong Liang, MD, PhD

Exceprt from Preserve our Eyes, Not Eye Drops

One of my research topic concerns the toxicity of preserved eye drops, which receives little attention in ophthalmology field. Many research works showed that toxic preserved eye drops could induce ocular discomfort, tear film instability, conjunctival inflammation and apoptosis, corneal surface impairment, and potential risk for failure of further glaucoma surgery. The most frequently used preservative, benzalkonium chloride, has widely demonstrated its toxic effects in laboratory, experimental, and clinical studies. It damaged directly the cornea, the conjunctiva, the limbus, the lens and possibly the retina by releasing the pro-inflammatory cytokines or chemokines. These toxic effects are especially found in glaucoma, dry eye and allergic patients treated by these eye drops for a long time.

Contribution from OCAVER Board member David Huang, MD, PhD

Dr. David Huang is the Charles C. Manger, III, MD Chair in Corneal Laser Surgery and associate professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC).  He is also the Medical Director of the Doheny Laser Vision Center ( www.dohenylaser.com ) at Doheny Eye Institute ( www.doheny.org ).  Dr. Huang earned the MD degree from Harvard University and a PhD in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   He received ophthalmology residency training at USC and fellowship training in cornea, external disease and refractive surgery at Emory University School of Medicine.  Prior to joining the USC faculty, Dr. Huang was on the staff of the Cole Eye Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. 

Dr. Huang is known for his innovations in applying laser and optical technology to eye diseases.  He is a co-inventor of optical coherence tomography (OCT), an imaging technology that has been applied to the measurement of eye structures with unprecedented precision.  His seminal article on optical coherence tomography, published in Science in 1991, has been cited more than 3300 times.  He has 8 issued patents and 6 pending patents in the areas of OCT, tissue engineering and corneal laser surgery.  He has been the principal investigator of 4 National Institutes of Health research grants.   He serves on the governing board, editorial board, program committee or advisory committee of 6 professional organizations.  He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and edited 3 books.  Dr. Huang has received an Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and was selected as one of the Best Doctors in America ( www.bestdoctors.com ) and is listed on www.trustedlasiksurgeons.com, a directory service that screens LASIK surgeons based on research experience and premier patient care.  Dr. Huang leads the Center for Ophthalmic Optics and Lasers ( www.COOLLab.net ) at USC.

Contribution from OCAVER Board member Dr. Jijin Pang MD, PhD

Dr. Jijing Pang currently is a Research Associate Professor at Ophthalmology, University of Florida.

            Dr. Pang received his MD in 1988 from China Medical University. He became an attending doctor in Ophthalmology, 2nd Affiliated Hospital of CMU in 1993 before he was sent to Japan for further training in research. Dr. Pang got his PhD in 1999 from Tokyo Medical and Dental University because of his finding on blue light damage to RPE cells. During his PhD course, Dr. Pang found a new type of Retinitis Pigmentosa due to vitamin E deficiency caused by an alpha-tocopherol transferase mutation. Oral administration of vitamin E stopped the progression of visual deterioration for the next 10 years. This experience prompted him to a postdoctoral position in Dr. Blanks’ lab at Oakland University in 1999. He tested adenoviral and lentiviral vectors via subretinal injections to rescue the photoreceptor degeneration seen in rd1 mice. Although the technical difficulties make the subretinal injection-related damage obvious in the mouse, especially in young pups, it is this gene replacement technique that captured his interest and remains the focus of his research program until he becomes a mouse expert.

            Dr. Pang moved to UF in 2002 with a well established mouse retinal surgery system. With rd12 mice, a model of LCA with Rpe65 mutation, he showed that AAV-mediated RPE65 expression lead to biochemical, structural, physioelectrical and behavioral rescues. Recently, Dr. Pang provides the proof that delayed treatment at P90 can rescue the function and morphology of the remaining M-cones, which has important implications for the current ongoing LCA2 clinical trials.

After this concept-proving program, Dr. Pang have expanded his retinal rescue program to many other mouse models of human retinal disease, for example, 1) the Cpfl5 mouse, a model of human achromatopsia with cnga3 mutations, 2) the rd10 mouse, a model of human retinitis pigmentosa with PDEmutations. Dr. Pang also collaborated with other researchers to rescue many other mouse models of human retinal degenerations, such as Cpfl3, rd6, rd17, GC-1-/-, LART-/- and Ccl2/Cx3cr1 deficient mice and RCS rat. Currently, nanoparticles systems are also being tested to widen the application of AAV vectors in retinal gene therapy, which has led to NIH R21 grant funding. Dr. Pang’s recent work on recue of mouse model of Achromatopsia leads to a grant funding as Co-PI from Florida State.

Dr. Pang has published 28 refereed journal articles and made more than 30 presentations at national meetings in the past 5 years. He also gave more than 40 invited seminar talks both nationally and internationally since 2003.

Dr. Pang has been a 2005-2006 Burns Visiting Professorship at University of Missouri-Columbia and 2009-2010 Visiting Professor in Wenzhou Medical College. He received H. Talmage Dobbs Ophthalmic Research Award from Emory Eye Center in 2003.