Ophthalmology is the scientific study of eyes and their diseases. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment in elderly and relates to dysfunction of the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). The fellows below study stem cells-derived RPE, as well as mitochondrial integrity in RPE, to gain knowledge and develop technology and strategies for the treatment of AMD.

Cristina Zibetti

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Country of origin: Italy
Host: Prof. G.Petrovski
Group: Center for Eye Research, Institute of Clinical Medicine
Thematic area: Stem Cells, Ophthalmology
Project title: iPSC-derived RPEs: Investigation of the epigenomic contribution to the induction and maintenance of RPE cell fate.

My project

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in the elderly, affects the photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the macula of the eye, responsible for central vision. By leveraging a recently described workflow on stem cells derived, clinical-grade autologous RPE, I intend to identify sources of variability among transplantable RPE lines, to decipher, assess and tentatively correct, the relative contribution of the genome, in its predetermined and acquired configurations.

Induced RPEs may potentially serve as platform for disease modelling, drugs screening and genome-editing studies to instruct patient-tailored strategies of precision medicine for treatment of AMD.

Georgina Faura Muñoz

Portrait of Georgina Faura Munoz

Country of origin: Spain
Host: Lars Eide
Group: Mitogroup, Institute of Clinical Medicine
Thematic area: Mitochondrial integrity (Ophthalmology)
Project title: The impact of mitochondrial integrity in human retinal pigmented epithelium function; from an hypothesis to a sensing application

My project

Age-related macular degeneration is the cause for vision loss to millions of people in the industrialized world. One of the most promising options for its treatment is the implantation of retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) to ease the regeneration of the damaged tissue. However, reliable non-destructive methods to assess the quality of the cells before transplantation are needed. During this project, we will determine how mitochondrial integrity affects RPE function and we will use the found correlations to develop a machine-learning-powered sensor array to non-destructively asses RPE quality in culture using the apical and basolateral supernatants of the culture as only sample.

The sensing technology developed during this project will ease the quality assessment of RPE before transplantation in a rapid and non-destructive way.