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Fiona S. McDonnell

Fiona S. McDonnell, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments Primary - Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Academic Office Information

Research Interests

  • Exosomes
  • Conventional Outflow
  • Distal Outflow
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Glaucoma
  • Trabecular Meshwork

Dr. McDonnell's primary research area is the study of glaucoma, with a special focus in conventional outflow physiology. This interest in glaucoma began with her PhD work in Dublin, Ireland (her hometown), and continued with her postdoctoral training at Duke University. She joined the John A. Moran Eye Center as an Assistant Professor in 2022 starting her new research program as the Principal Investigator of the McDonnell Lab. As a glaucoma investigator, Dr. McDonnell and her lab will be part of the Alan S. Crandall Center for Glaucoma Innovation, and will be working closely with other researchers to improve our knowledge of glaucoma.

Her current work focuses on how nanoparticles called exosomes contribute to the regulation of intraocular pressure. Dr. McDonnell is also an expert in a technique known as perfusion, which is used in the glaucoma research field to study the pressure in donor eyes.

Research Statement

My research is focused on how we can improve treatments for lowering intraocular pressure by understanding the mechanisms behind what causes it. Therefore I have focused my work on the conventional outflow pathway and the cells and tissues that are responsible for aqueous humor drainage.

I do this through gaining a better understanding of the physiology of how the different tissues involved in glaucoma become damaged, and the processes that should maintain them become dysregulated. My research uses elements of physiology, cell biology, biomedical engineering and pharmacology to elucidate what is occurring in the trabecular meshwork, Schlemm's canal and distal vessels of the conventional outflow pathway.

My current funded study examines how nanovesicles called exosomes regulate extracellular matrix materials in the trabecular meshwork, and how this is affected and interrupted in glaucoma.

Education History

Postdoctoral Fellowship Duke University School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University College Dublin
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Doctoral Training University College Dublin
University College Dublin

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Greene AG, Eivers SB, McDonnell F, Dervan EWJ, OBrien CJ, Wallace DM (2020). Differential Lysyl oxidase like 1 expression in pseudoexfoliation glaucoma is orchestrated via DNA methylation. Exp Eye Res, 201, 108349. (Read full article)
  2. McDonnell F, Perkumas KM, Ashpole NE, Kalnitsky J, Sherwood JM, Overby DR, Stamer WD (2020). Shear Stress in Schlemm's Canal as a Sensor of Intraocular Pressure. Sci Rep, 10(1), 5804. (Read full article)
  3. McDonnell F, Dismuke WM, Overby DR, Stamer WD (2018). Pharmacological regulation of outflow resistance distal to Schlemm's canal. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 315(1), C44-C51. (Read full article)
  4. Liu B, Kilpatrick JI, Lukasz B, Jarvis SP, McDonnell F, Wallace DM, Clark AF, OBrien CJ (2018). Increased Substrate Stiffness Elicits a Myofibroblastic Phenotype in Human Lamina Cribrosa Cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 59(2), 803-814. (Read full article)
  5. McDonnell FS, McNally SA, Clark AF, OBrien CJ, Wallace DM (2016). Increased Global DNA Methylation and Decreased TGFβ1 Promoter Methylation in Glaucomatous Lamina Cribrosa Cells. J Glaucoma, 25(10), e834-e842. (Read full article)
  6. McDonnell F, Irnaten M, Clark AF, OBrien CJ, Wallace DM (2016). Hypoxia-Induced Changes in DNA Methylation Alter RASAL1 and TGFβ1 Expression in Human Trabecular Meshwork Cells. PLoS One, 11(4), e0153354. (Read full article)


  1. McDowell CM, Kizhatil K, Elliott MH, Overby DR, van Batenburg-Sherwood J, Millar JC, Kuehn MH, Zode G, Acott TS, Anderson MG, Bhattacharya SK, Bertrand JA, Borras T, Bovenkamp DE, Cheng L, Danias J, De Ieso ML, Du Y, Faralli JA, Fuchshofer R, Ganapathy PS, Gong H, Herberg S, Hernandez H, Humphries P, John SWM, Kaufman PL, Keller KE, Kelley MJ, Kelly RA, Krizaj D, Kumar A, Leonard BC, Lieberman RL, Liton P, Liu Y, Liu KC, Lopez NN, Mao W, Mavlyutov T, McDonnell F, McLellan GJ, Mzyk P, Nartey A, Pasquale LR, Patel GC, Pattabiraman PP, Peters DM, Raghunathan V, Rao PV, Rayana N, Raychaudhuri U, Reina-Torres E, Ren R, Rhee D, Chowdhury UR, Samples JR, Samples EG, Sharif N, Schuman JS, Sheffield VC, Stevenson CH, Soundararajan A, Subramanian P, Sugali CK, Sun Y, Toris CB, Torrejon KY, Vahabikashi A, Vranka JA, Wang T, Willoughby CE, Xin C, Yun H, Zhang HF, Fautsch MP, Tamm ER, Clark AF, Ethier CR, Stamer WD (2022). Consensus Recommendation for Mouse Models of Ocular Hypertension to Study Aqueous Humor Outflow and Its Mechanisms. [Review]. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 63(2), 12. (Read full article)
  2. Keller KE, Bhattacharya SK, Borrs T, Brunner TM, Chansangpetch S, Clark AF, Dismuke WM, Du Y, Elliott MH, Ethier CR, Faralli JA, Freddo TF, Fuchshofer R, Giovingo M, Gong H, Gonzalez P, Huang A, Johnstone MA, Kaufman PL, Kelley MJ, Knepper PA, Kopczynski CC, Kuchtey JG, Kuchtey RW, Kuehn MH, Lieberman RL, Lin SC, Liton P, Liu Y, Ltjen-Drecoll E, Mao W, Masis-Solano M, McDonnell F, McDowell CM, Overby DR, Pattabiraman PP, Raghunathan VK, Rao PV, Rhee DJ, Chowdhury UR, Russell P, Samples JR, Schwartz D, Stubbs EB, Tamm ER, Tan JC, Toris CB, Torrejon KY, Vranka JA, Wirtz MK, Yorio T, Zhang J, Zode GS, Fautsch MP, Peters DM, Acott TS, Stamer WD (2018). Consensus recommendations for trabecular meshwork cell isolation, characterization and culture. [Review]. Exp Eye Res, 171, 164-173. (Read full article)
  3. McDonnell F, OBrien C, Wallace D (2014). The role of epigenetics in the fibrotic processes associated with glaucoma. [Review]. J Ophthalmol, 2014, 750459. (Read full article)