Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Department of Ophthalmology
Research Focus: retinal vascular diseases, retinopathy of prematurity, angiogenesis, endothelial progenitor cells
I am interested in retinal vascular disorders from both clinical and research perspectives. I completed my doctoral thesis in the laboratory of R.C. Andrew Symons, MBBS, PhD through the Molecular and Integrative Physiology Department and the Department of Ophthalmology. My research identified a gene related to susceptibility to retinopathy of prematurity using a murine disease model. In subsequent experiments, I showed that peripheral dopamine (i.e., outside of the central nervous system) inhibits recruitment of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells to the retina during the process of revascularization, and that this inhibition is associated with worsened disease outcome. This is especially intriguing not only because it may offer a new pharmacotherpeutic target to prevent retinopathy of prematurity and similar diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, but also because it suggests that neonates who receive dopamine therapeutically for hypotension should receive heightened ophthalmic screening.
I have also been active in a small clinical project investigating cytokine expression in Graves' ophthalmopathy, and I have collaborated with colleagues at the University of Missouri Kansas City exploring the role of the hypoxia inducible factor pathway in retinal neovascularization.
Outside of research, I have been very active in campus organizations and student government. I greatly enjoy teaching and have additionally worked within the School of Medicine as a Supplemental Instructor and USMLE Step 1 Preparatory Course Director.
After completing the MD/PhD program, I plan to pursue a residency position in ophthalmology and potentially also a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery. Ideally, I would like to work as a physician-scientist at an academic institution, where I can combine my passions of clinical ophthalmology, research, and teaching.
Bliss O'Bryhim, Ph.D.