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Ophthalmology Research

About Our Research

As a key part of the John A. Moran Eye Center’s vision that “no person with a blinding condition should be without hope, understanding, and treatment,” we invest heavily in basic and translational research.

The Moran Eye Center supports 17 research labs and centers, where interna­tionally-awarded faculty, including one of the world’s top retinal teams, are developing the treatments of tomorrow. The Moran Eye Center has ranked as high as seventh in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding.

Research Centers

Moran invests in the full spectrum of research, supporting basic research that adds to our foundation of knowledge and then providing the tools to translate discoveries into new therapies and treatments. Among the work of our renowned-research centers:

Intermountain Ocular Research Center

Physicians and companies worldwide use the Intermountain Ocular Research Center to vet artificial lenses used for cataract surgery.

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Sharon Eccles Steele Center for Translational Medicine

The SCTM is fast-tracking new therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), using the world’s largest repository of donor eye tissue of its kind and data from an ongoing clinical study.

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Utah Retinal Reading Center

UREAD seeks to contribute to the characterization of manifestation and progression of ophthalmic diseases, focusing on evaluating treatment response to innovative therapeutic strategies.

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Crandall Center for Glaucoma Innovation

The Alan S. Crandall Center for Glaucoma Innovation is leading the way to better diagnostics, safer and more effective therapies and surgical devices, a deeper understanding of glaucoma and its genetics, and expanded access to care worldwide.

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Research Faculty Laboratories

Moran has more than 60 PhD researchers addressing a number of conditions including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt disease, optic neuritis, retinal stroke, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, Usher syndrome, and retinopathy of prematurity.

Angelucci Laboratory

Dr. Alessandra Angelucci's research focuses on identifying neuronal circuits that underlie functional properties of neurons in the visual cerebral cortex and, ultimately, visual perception.

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Baehr Laboratory

Dr. Wolfgang Baehr’s laboratory continues the hunt for genes implicated in blinding retinal degenerations using techniques from molecular biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology.

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Bernstein Laboratory

Dr. Paul S. Bernstein’s laboratory explores the biochemistry and biophysics of nutritional interventions against inherited and acquired ocular disorders.

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Hwang Laboratory

The lab of Eileen Hwang, MD, PhD, studies how the biochemistry and extracellular matrix structure of the vitreous changes throughout life from childhood through old age.

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Jones Laboratory

Bryan W. Jones, PhD, is principal investigator of The Marclab for Connectomics: Retina, Connectomics and Disease, with a focus on retinal circuitry/connectomics and metabolomics in neural plasticity in retinal disease.

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Krizaj Laboratory

The lab of David Krizaj, PhD, is focused on studies of ocular mechanotransduction, with emphasis on how intraocular pressure is generated and regulated, and why sensitivity to mechanical stress kills neurons in the retina.

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Noudoost Laboratory

Dr. Behrad Noudoost’s lab research is focused precisely on understanding the neural circuits and biological mechanisms that are necessary and sufficient to drive fundamental cognitive functions.

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Owen Laboratory

The lab of Leah Owen, MD, PhD, is an NEI-funded center working to understand the genetic and molecular causes for blinding eye disease, including retinopathy of prematurity, pediatric strabismus and amblyopia, and age-related macular degeneration.

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Tian Laboratory

Dr. Ning Tian’s lab research aims to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the development of the retinal synaptic pathways and the formation of the laminar structure, and how these mechanisms are modulated under normal and pathological conditions.

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Vinberg Laboratory

The laboratory of Frans Vinberg, PhD, works to understand mechanisms in the retina that enable vision over a wide range of light intensities and colors, and how these mechanisms are affected in major blinding diseases including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

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Yang Laboratory

Dr. Jun Yang’s laboratory research focuses on the disease mechanisms and therapeutic treatments, including gene therapies, for retinal degenerative diseases. 

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In the News

NEI Grant to Help Solve AMD Mysteries

The $1.9 million National Eye Institute grant will allow Moran scientists to answer a fundamental question about the eye’s response to age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among Americans 55 and older.

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Life after Death for the Human Eye

Vinberg Lab scientists have revived light-sensing neuron cells in organ donor eyes, part of a series of discoveries that stand to transform brain and vision research.

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Tian Lab Cell Discovery

Researchers discover new type of nerve cell in the retina.

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Genetic Protections for AMD Outlined

New research hones in on AMD genetic protection to advance new treatment approaches.

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Hartnett Lab Explores ROP Risk

New research from a team including Moran surgeon-scientist Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, details a different approach to treating premature infants at risk for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

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Artificial Vision Advancements

Scientists enable blind woman to see simple shapes using brain implant.

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Research Pinpoints New AMD Treatment Pathway

HtrA1 augmentation is potential therapy for age-related macular degeneration.

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A Retinal Mapping First

Marclab for Connectomics mapping a deeper understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Mentoring Award for Leah Owen, MD, PhD

The NEI career development award to support her innovative research into a blinding eye disease affecting premature infants. 

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Research Publications

Driving Discovery: The John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah

John A. Moran Eye Center Research Overview 2021