Over the years, my research interest has bridged basic and clinical research. A long-standing interest of my work has been exploring the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell extensively as an important immunoregulatory and multifunctional ocular cell and track its role in ocular diseases. I was an integral part of the first three research papers identifying and characterizing the RPE specific 65-kD protein (RPE65). This molecule has subsequently been the subject of active genetic research studies on retinal degenerative diseases. Mutations in the RPE65 gene have been identified in Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis. Recently a key medical application identified that an RPE65 adenoviral vector expressing RPE65 cDNA was used successfully to treat 12 young patients with this disease. The potent regulatory role of the RPE was identified in my initial report that described the RPE cell as an antigen-presenting cell. In 2004, I characterized the presence of toll-like receptors on RPE cells and examined how cytokines influence RPE cell production of VEGF in Age Related Macular Degeneration. These studies have laid the groundwork for future corroborating research showing that the RPE cell orchestrates both innate and adaptive immunity. My laboratory also developed a unique murine coronavirus model system, which identified for the first time how a virus can trigger a retinal degenerative process associated with an autoimmune component. Currently, this animal model has set the stage for developing standardized diagnostic methods to monitor retinal autoimmune reactivity in human retinal degenerative diseases.
Immunologically, cytokines have emerged as mediators that bridge innate and adaptive immunity, as molecules that participate in both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory activities and as regulators that influence numerous diseases. To date, my work focuses on role of cytokines in the development, progression and complications of certain inflammatory conditions and their possible utility as biomarkers of early inflammatory disease. Specifically, I study cytokines in infection, cardiovascular disease, neuroinflammation and transplant rejection. It is anticipated that this information may yield insights into the pathophysiology of these diseases.
Honors and Awards
1967-1970-NASA Fellowship (pre-doctoral),The Catholic University of America,Washington, D.C.
1972-1974-PHS Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Cancer Institute, NIH
1978-Outstanding Service Award, Walter Reed Army Medical Center Dept.of Pathology, In recognition of Outstanding Service, Diagnostic Immunology Section
1980-Outstanding Service Award, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dept.of Pathology, In recognition of Outstanding Service, Diagnostic Immunology Section
1988-1989-Councilor, Association for Medical Laboratory Immunologist
1989-1990-Chair, Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology Division-V, American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
1989-1996-Executive Board Member,American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology, ASM
1992-Recipient -Award for Outstanding Contribution in Diagnostic Immunology, Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology Division- V,ASM
1993-1996-Councilor, Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology Division-V, ASM
1993-Fellow, the American Academy of Microbiology, ASM
1997-1999-Councilor, Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologist
1997-Invited-Chair, American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium entitled “Clinical Microbiology and the Changing World of Managed Care,”American Academy of Microbiology, ASM
1998-Awarded Mentorship- The George Washington University Medical Center- The 1998 W.T. Gill, Jr. Fellow: Joan Homan, 1998, George Washington University Medical Center
1998-Senior Investigator Award, Outstanding Research Award, Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologist, Montreal, Canada
2002-Editor, The Manual of Clinical Laboratory Immunology, 6th Ed, 2002,ASM Press
2006-Editor-in-Chief, the Manual of Molecular and Clinical Laboratory Immunology,7th Ed, ASM Press
2006-2009-Chair, American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology, AAM.
2006-2007-President, Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologists Society
2010-Distinguished Service Award, Association of Medical Laboratory Immunology Society
2013-Recipient, 2013 Veritas Distinguished Alumnus Award, Caldwell University,Caldwell,NJ
2013-Participant,OWISM Leadership Program for Women Course
2014-Recipient, Bloomberg SPH Diversity Award, Bloomberg SPH, Johns Hopkins University
2014-Recognition for Discovery and Characterization to RPE65 gene therapy for Leber congenital amaurosis, Presentation -joint meeting - German and French Ophthalmologic Societies
2016-Editor-in-Chief, the Manual of Molecular and Clinical Laboratory Immunology,8th Ed, ASM Press
2017-Pres-Diversity Leadership Council, at The Johns Hopkins University,Baltimore, MD