Retinal degeneration is a group of conditions with vision loss mainly caused by photoreceptor cell death and retinal pigment epithelium malfunction. It generally includes retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. These are hereditary diseases affecting millions of people in the world. Although many genes have been identified as responsible for these diseases, their physiological functions and pathogenic mechanisms are not clear. Additionally, many causative genes are still unidentified. Currently, no cures for these diseases are available.
The research in Dr. Jun Yang’s laboratory is focused on the disease mechanisms and therapeutic treatments for retinal degenerative diseases using mouse models. Her research group investigates the biological functions of genes whose mutations are known to cause human retinal diseases. Using mouse models for these diseases, the group also studies how to treat these diseases by means of gene therapy.
Dr. Yang’s team is also interested in the cell biology of photoreceptors, especially the cellular processes of intracellular trafficking and structural maintenance. The research led by Dr. Yang is attempting to understand more about retinal degenerative diseases, identify more candidate causative genes, and provide tactics to design various therapies. Dr. Yang’s laboratory uses a combination of experimental approaches including molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry.