Nutrition & Vision Research


The mission of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research is to discover mechanisms of aging, particularly in the eye, and seek nutritional and other new means to delay age-related debilities such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract. These are the primary blinding diseases. Because many age related diseases have in common the accumulation of cytotoxic proteins, our research focuses on the adverse effects of protein damage and cellular means to remove that damage in order to prolong organ function. More specifically, we examine how the ubiquitin proteolytic pathway, the major protein degrading machine in the cell, functions to remove damaged proteins. Additional interests involve elucidating functions of the ubiquitin proteolytic pathways in regulation of cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. We also explore relationships between protein damage and inflammation upon stress and aging.

Lab Objectives
1. Identify nutritional factors that are causally related to onset, prevalence and progress of age-related macular degeneration and cataract. Design diets, dietary supplements, natural or pharmacologic agents to delay these diseases. Identify and harness proteolytic pathways to retain cellular and tissue function upon stress and aging.

2. Identify mechanisms by which retina and lens function are maintained throughout life.

Lab Members
Allen Taylor, Ph.D., Laboratory Director
Senior Scientist and Professor, Nutrition, Biochemistry, and Ophthalmology
Research focus: relationships between oxidative stress, protein metabolism, nutrient intake and risk for cataract and age-related retinopathy

Chung-Jung Chiu, DDS, Ph.D.
Scientist II and Assistant Professor, Medicine
Research focus: relations between carbohydrate intake and metabolism and risk for age-related cataract and age-related retinal disease

Sheldon Rowan, Ph.D.
Scientist III
The role of the dietary glycemic index in the development of age-related macular degeneration and its role in aging and metabolism. Role of the ubiquitin proteolysis pathway in regulating lens development and differentiation.

Fu Shang, Ph.D.
Scientist I
Research focus: effects of nutrition, oxidation, and aging on protein turnover in the lens; lens development and differentiation; development of models of age-and diabetes-related cataract

Elizabeth Whitcomb, Ph.D.
Scientist III
Research focus: defining the function of specific ubiquitinating enzymes in regulation of cell division and differentiation in lens and retina cells/tissues; determining roles for the ubiquitin pathway in recognition and removal of damaged proteins.

Min Lee Chang, M.S., Senior Research Technician
Shuhong Jiang, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar
Naoko Shimada, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar
Kalavathi Dasuri, Postdoctoral Scholar
Zachary Crosser, Administrative Assistant

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