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Director’s Message

Mohamed Al-ShabraweyWelcome to the Eye Research Center (ERC) and Eye Research Institute (ERI) webpage! We invite you to explore the site to learn more about our members, ongoing research, programs and goals. Our mission is to support basic and clinical research to understand the pathophysiology of eye diseases and discover new therapeutic targets to prevent and treat vision-threatening eye diseases.

The ERI has a fine history of excellence in vision research that has extended for 50 years, with major funding support received from the National Eye Institute during this time. In 2021, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) founded the Eye Research Center to further support the mission of the ERI and provide additional resources to promote translational research and expand vision research at Oakland University. The goal of the new ERC and ERI is to conduct state-of-the-art research in Vision Sciences and Ophthalmology to enhance the understanding of fundamental processes in ocular tissues that lead to eye diseases. Our research laboratories provide an environment for the training of advanced undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in the vision sciences, or the medical sciences in general. In addition, we offer research opportunities for medical students, residents and fellows in ophthalmology.

The ERC and ERI have investigators who conduct full-time research that include and are not limited to diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, retinal degenerative diseases and age-related macular degeneration. Biochemical, physiological, molecular and cell biological approaches are used to study ocular tissues to better understand eye function in both health and disease. Recent advances in the genetics of eye disease mean that molecular approaches have become increasingly important laboratory tools.

In 2011, the ERI dedicated a new Pediatric Retinal Research Laboratory (PRRL), which continues the legacy of the first ERI Director, V. Everett Kinsey. Funding from the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation helps to support the operation of the PRRL and has allowed the purchase of state-of-the-art retinal imaging equipment for use with animal models. In 2014, the wife of Dr. Kinsey, Irene Kinsey Stare, left the ERI $3.7 million to establish an Endowed Professorship in her husband's honor.

We hope this webpage introduces you to our faculty and their research. I urge you to contact any faculty member or me if you have further questions.

Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, MBBCH (M.D.), M.Sc., Ph.D.
Professor in the Department of Foundational Medical Studies
Professor in Eye Research Institute and V. Everett Kinsey Endowed Professor
Founding Director, Eye Research Center, OUWB
Director, Eye Research Institute, Oakland University
Our Research

Co-founder and first director of the ERI, Dr. V. Everett Kinsey was the recipient of the 1956 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award from the Lasker Foundation for his outstanding work as coordinator of the National Cooperative Study of Retrolental Fibroplasia.

With the help of 75 ophthalmologists and pediatricians in 18 hospitals, this study confirmed conclusively earlier observations that the incidence of blindness among premature babies increased with the duration of exposure to oxygen.

Previous research had eliminated other possible etiologic agents, such as virus infection, lack of hormones in the infant, exposure of the premature infant's eyes to light, lack of vitamin A in the mother, the administration of various vitamins and iron, blood transfusions and cow's milk. Dr. Kinsey, a biochemist, had participated in many of the studies on these possible agents.

Within a period of six months, data were accumulated through the cooperative study that would have taken a single hospital several years. Among babies weighing less than 1500 grams at birth, 25 percent of the infants receiving routine oxygen developed cicatricial retrolental fibroplasia, while only 6 percent of the infants on curtailed oxygen had the condition. The study showed that limiting the oxygen was without effect on survival.

In the United States alone, putting into effect the results of this coordinated research should prevent blindness in several hundred premature infants each year.

Our History

Founded in 1968 by Dr. V. Everett Kinsey and Dr. Venkat N. Reddy, the ERI began as a 10,000 square foot facility funded by a National Institutes of Health Construction Grant. The institute was recognized as a center of excellence in vision research in 1984 with the receipt of a Core Vision grant from the National Eye Institute. This milestone allowed the institute's expansion and the creation of staffed core facilities in electron microscopy and tissue culture.

A second growth phase occurred in 1989, when clinical professorial appointments in the institute were granted to senior members of the Department of Ophthalmology at William Beaumont Hospital. The partnership between the Eye Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology fosters collaborative research and provides a joint ophthalmology residency and fellowship program.

Dr. Venkat Reddy retired in 1997 as director of the institute after 22 years of service. Dr. Janet Blanks from the Doheney Eye Institute at the University of Southern California served as director from 1997 to 2002. Dr. Frank Giblin served as director from 2002 to 2021.

In 2021, OUWB founded the Eye Research Center that partners with Eye Research Institute to further promote multidisciplinary vision science and ophthalmology research. For this purpose, OUWB in collaboration with OU recruited Dr. Mohamed Al-Shabrawey as a founding director of the ERC and the director of ERI, replacing Frank Giblin who retired in July 2021.

Mohamed Al-ShabraweyMohamed Al-Shabrawey, Ph.D.
V. Everett Kinsey Endowed Professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, OUWB
Founding Director, Eye Research Center, OUWB
Director, Eye Research Institute, Oakland University
Headshot of Andrew GoldbergAndrew F.X. Goldberg, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Headshot of Kenneth MittonKenneth Mitton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Headshot of Dao-Qi ZhangDao-Qi Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Amany TawfikAmany Tawfik, M.D., M.Sc.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences

Headshot of Frank GiblinFrank Giblin, Ph.D.,
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences

RileyMichael Riley, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

Headshot of Barry S. WinklerBarry Winkler, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences

Clinical Faculty
Antonio Capone, Jr., M.D.Clinical Professor(248) 288-2280
Marshall N. Cyrlin, M.D.Clinical Professor(248) 353-1750
Kimberly Drenser, M.D., Ph.D.Clinical Associate Professor(248) 288-2280
Bruce Garretson, M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 288-2280
Robert Granadier, M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 551-2020
John Hart, Jr., M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 288-2280
Tarek Hassan, M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 288-2280
Rajesh Rao, M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 538-7400
Alan Ruby, M.D.Clinical Assistant Professor(248) 288-2280
Michael Trese, M.D.Clinical Professor(248) 288-2280
George Williams M.D.Clinical Professor(248) 288-2280
Elizabeth AlessioResearch Technician
R. Casey BoucherPh.D. Student
Breyanna Cavanaugh, M.S.Lab Manager
Mei Cheng, M.S.Research Technician
Amanda Petrelli CiceroneHonors College Student
Mrinalini Deshpande, M.S.Research Technician
Khaled Elmasry MBBCH, M.Sc, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Fellow
Kaylee GwynSenior OU Student Volunteer
Olivia HannawaStudent Research Assistant
Naomi HaqueGraduate Student
Dylan HeerStudent Research Assistant
Michelle Milstein, Ph.D.Research Associate
Johan Sta. MonicaStudent Research Assistant
Mohamed Moustafa, Pharm.D.Ph.D. Student
Emilio RomanoStudent Research Assistant
Michael SunEmbark Medical Student
Meron TarekegnEmbark Medical Student
Kathy Wolosiewicz, M.A.Operations Coordinator
Xiao Zhang, M.S.Lab Manager

In addition to individual investigators' labs, the ERI and OUWB-ERC have a core facility that contains the necessary equipment for morphological, molecular, and functional studies. There are currently four modules and one director for each module:

Microscopy Module: The Ocular Structure and Imaging (OSI) facility is supervised by Andrew Goldberg, Ph.D., and is staffed a full-time M.Sc.-level digital imaging associate supported by the university. It offers instrumentation and expertise in support of electron and light microscopy studies.

In Vivo Imaging Module: Directed by Amany Tawfik, M.D., M.Sc. This module allows for studying changes in retinal structure and vessels by the fluorescein angiogram and the Optical Coherence Tomogram (OCT). It also allows induction of experimental choroidal neovascularization using laser source (Phoenix Technology Group).

Retinal Function Assessment Module: Directed by Daoqi Zhang, Ph.D., it contains:

  1. Diagnosys Celeris Electrophysiology System: It provides a full-field dark-adapted and light-adapted electroretinogram (ERG) testing, flash visual evoked potential (VEP) testing, simultaneous ERG and VEP protocol provided, both eyes can be tested individually and automatically, and an anesthesia machine specifically designed to safely deliver isoflurane to mice.
  2. Cerebral Mechanics OptoMotry-AT System: It provides real-time behavioral testing of optokinetic response for small laboratory animals (rats and mice), spatial frequency and contrast sensitivity testing and manual and automatic trial control and tracking assessment.
  3. NeurOptics A-2000 Small Animal Pupillometer System: It provides pupillary evaluation in small laboratory animals (rats and mice) in real-time, the binocular dual-camera system measures both eyes at once, four ultra-bright color light stimuli (white, green, blue, and red), and light intensities defined in lux or pure radiometric units (W/m2), stimulates direct, consensual, or both eyes simultaneously and automatic tracking and pupil detection.

Molecular and Cellular Biology Module: Directed by Kenneth Mitton, Ph.D., it provides dedicated suites for tissue culture, gene-expression, and genomic analyses.

In addition, a Pediatric Retinal Research Laboratory suite, also supervised by Mitton, is occupied by two physician scientists: Michael Trese, M.D., and Kimberly Drenser, M.D., Ph.D. It houses a full ocular phenotyping and surgical suite used for characterizing rodent disease models. This includes an additional set of FA/OCT (Bioptigen’s OCT 3).