Jayakrishna Ambati, M.D. Principal Investigator
Jayakrishna Ambati is Professor of Physiology and Professor & Vice-Chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Kentucky. He holds the Dr. E. Vernon Smith & Eloise C. Smith Endowed Chair in Macular Degeneration Research. His scientific aspirations are to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of AMD, determine the triggers of the angiogenic switch that converts this disease from an atrophic to a neovascular phenotype, and to develop novel therapeutics to prevent and treat this blinding condition. He is the first ophthalmologist to win the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging Award, and the Harrington Discovery Institute Scholar-Innovator Award. He was also elected to The American Society for Clinical Investigation and was the first ophthalmologist to be elected to The Association of American Physicians. He has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Translational Vision Science & Technology, and is an Associate Editor of Ophthalmology. He won the 2010 ARVO Cogan Award, and his Cogan Lecture was recognized with the 2010 Cless Best of the Best Award. He also won the 2010 Roger H. Johnson Memorial Award for Macular Degeneration Research, and a 2010 Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator Award. He has been named winner of the 2011 AFER/Pfizer Ophthalmics/Carl Camras Translational Research Award.
In 2014, he received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, becoming the first ophthalmologist and the first from an institution in Kentucky, to do so.
His wife Kameshwari and he derive the greatest joy from playing with their daughters Meenakshi and Vidya, and exploring TED Talks.
|Mark Kleinman, M.D. Assistant Professor||Laboratory Website|
Dr. Kleinman is a senior post-doctoral combined clinical/research fellow in diseases of the vitreous, retina, and macula. He joined the lab in 2006 after completing both his medical education and a surgery internship at New York University. During his 5-year M.D. degree, a program enriched with basic science research and international health projects, he developed a specific interest in the field of stem/progenitor cell biology and anomalous vascular growth, in particular with proliferating infantile hemangioma, for which he was awarded the Weston Research Grant. At the University of Kentucky, he performed a post-doctoral research fellowship, supported by the IRRF Charles D. Kelman Award, followed by an ophthalmology residency. He has now continued his investigations with a K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award from the National Eye Institute and a Career Development Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Mark’s research interests are focused on defining the molecular interface of angiogenesis and cell death mediators within the biologic spectrum of immune-related inflammation in retinal diseases. His translational goals are to develop diagnostic bio-imaging tools and to design new therapeutic approaches to vision and life threatening eye diseases. Away from work, Mark thoroughly enjoys spending time with his wife, Blythe, son, Matai, and daughter, MeilinGrey and tries to remain active with his diverse hobbies including culinary art, reading, programming audio-midi sequencers, golf, and travel.
Brad Gelfand, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
Brad was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. He graduated with a degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa (Iowa City). He next attended the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) where he received his PhD also in Biomedical Engineering. His graduate work focused on how mechanical forces influence both endothelial biology and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Brad joined the lab in 2010 and is looking forward to a successful scientific career. When he's not in the lab, he enjoys spending time with his lovely wife Christen, daughters Morgan and Stella and his dogs Vader and Yoda.
Benjamin Fowler, M.D./Ph.D. Student
Ben Fowler hails from Bethesda, Maryland, where he attended Walter Johnson High School. He matriculated at Middlebury College, nestled in the bucolic countryside of Western Vermont. While there, Ben earned a degree with honors in biochemistry under the guidance of his thesis advisor Dr. Stephen Sontum. He also served as co-captain of the Middlebury Track and Field Team, earning conference honors in sportsmanship, academics, and athletic performance. Fowler's keen interest in research stems from his early laboratory experiences at the National Cancer Institute under the tuition of Dr. Tito Fojo. In 2009, Ben joined the MD/PhD program at the University of Kentucky. He is enthusiastic to be a contributing member of the Ambati Laboratory. Besides research, Ben also enjoys running, reading, and cooling off with a refreshing glass of apple cider.
Young-Hee Kim, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kim earned her doctorate in Neurobiology from Gyeonsang National University in South Korea in Aug 2004. For her Ph.D. thesis she investigated the phototransduction cascade in the retina of early diabetes. She has worked as a research associate professor for 4 years with the Biomedical Center at the same university and also teaching experiences human anatomy & pathology/physiology in Jinju Health College for 5 years. She had continued the research of "Neuropathy & Vasculopathy in Diabetic Retina" for 10 years in Korea. She is a woman of great experience in all processes of vascular biology (angiography), histology (in situ hybridization and multi-immunostaining), and molecular biology (northern, western, and proteomics) and also clever at animal surgery and microscopy. She has a very inquisitive and sharp mind and is a very hard worker. She joined Dr. Ambati's lab to conduct research in the field of "Macular & RPE degeneration" on Nov 2010 and is very happy to join this group where she hopes to make great contributions.
Nagaraj Kerur, D.V.M., M.Sc. ,Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kerur was born and raised in India. After earning a degree in Veterinary Medicine from University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad, he received his Masters degree in Veterinary Microbiology from Anand Agricultural University. He earned his PhD at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (North Chicago) under the mentorship of Dr. Bala Chandran. His graduate study focused on examining the inflammasome activation in response to Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus. He joined Dr. Ambati's lab in August 2011 and is looking forward to an exciting and productive scientific career.
Ana Bastos de Carvalho, M.D., Ph.D. Student/Post-doctoral Fellow
Ana received an MD from the University of Lisbon Medical School, in Lisbon, Portugal. In 2007 she became an Assistant Professor of both Ophthalmology and Neuroanatomy at the same institution. She was awarded the Astra-Zeneca Research Fellowship in 2005, and the Portuguese Ophthalmology Society Research Award in both 2005 and 2006. After completing her Ophthalmology residency at the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, she entered the Gulbenkian/Champalimaud PhD Program for Physicians. She joined the lab in November 2011 to complete her PhD work and is excited about contributing to the progression of knowledge in the field of AMD.
Tetsu Yasuma, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Yasuma was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. He graduated from Nagoya University School of Medicine and got his MD in 2004. He completed his residency at Nagoya Daini Red Cross Hospital and then joined Nagoya University Department of Ophthalmology. He received training in biomedical research as an undergraduate and in general ophthalmology and surgery in graduate school. After completion of the graduate school, he has worked as an associate professor in Nagoya University Hospital. He joined the Ambati Lab in May 2012 with his wife, Reo, and is looking forward to further research in the area of AMD. Outside of the lab, Tetsu enjoys going out with Reo.
Reo Yasuma, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Reo Yasuma was born in Nagoya, and raised in Tokyo, Chiba, and Kasugai, Japan. She got her MD in 2004 at Mie University and completed her residency in Meitetsu Hospital. In 2006, she went to Nagoya University and was trained as a general ophthalmologist. She worked as an ophthalmologist in hospitals and learned research in the university. She started her research fellowship at UK in May 2012. She contributes to the in vivo work of our laboratory. Reo enjoys spending time with her husband, Tetsuhiro, who is a co-worker and an ophthalmologist. She loves playing the piano, traveling abroad, looking at paintings, and listening to classical music and jazz.
Shengjian Li, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Shengjian Li is a senior post-doctoral fellow. He earned his Ph.D in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2006. From 2006-2011, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, Maryland) focusing on Wnt signaling and Ubiquitin E3 ligase. He joined the lab in the end of 2012 after working in BeiGene as a Principal Investigator from 2011 to 2012. His work focuses on developing small molecules in AMD disease and figuring out the mechanism of Alu RNA’s toxicity related to AMD.
Takeshi Mizutani, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Mizutani was born in Osaka, Japan. He graduated from Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. He completed his residency at Nagoya Memorial Hospital and then joined Nagoya City University Department of Ophthalmology. He was trained as a general ophthalmologist. He worked as an ophthalmologist in hospitals and learned research in graduate school. After obtaining his Ph.D, he joined the lab in April 2013 as a post-doctral scholar. He is very happy to join the lab, and exited to build his knowledge of angiogenesis. Out of the lab, he enjoys his life in Lexington with his wife.
Chuck Wright, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Wright was born and raised in Southwest Virginia before moving to the Atlanta suburbs. He attended Clemson University in South Carolina and graduated with a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Philosophy while studying DNA repair in E. coli. For his graduate work, he attended Emory University in Atlanta, where he studied Leber congenital amaurosis, a severe childhood-onset blindness. He finished his Ph.D in Genetics and Molecular Biology in 2013 and is hoping to bring his understanding of retinal degeneration models to the study of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Outside of the laboratory, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Puja. He also spends time with his dog and cat, Rasha and Lily. During his spare time, he likes to cook, read, and follow college football.
Junichi Fukuhara, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Fukuhara was born and raised in Sapporo, Japan. He graduated from Hokkaido University School of Medicine and got his MD in 2005. He joined Hokkaido University Department of Ophthalmology, and was trained as a general ophthalmologist. He worked as an ophthalmologist in hospitals and learned research in graduate school. After obtaining his Ph.D, he joined Dr. Ambati's lab in April 2014 as a post-doctoral fellow. He is very happy to join this lab. Out of the lab, he enjoys spending time with his wife. He loves playing golf and baseball.
Abdallah Mahrous, M.D. Student
Abdallah is a fourth year medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, he joined the Ambati lab in December 2013. Abdallah lived in Syria, Lebanon, Qatar and New York before moving here to Lexington. His previous work exploring the potentials of gene therapy and micro-RNAs in diabetic retinopathy, done at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, drove him into spending a year of research during medical school. He is excited to spend his research year at the Ambati lab and is looking forward to contributing to the promising research targeting AMD. Abdallah loves to travel around the world and see what different places have to offer. In his free time he likes to watch and play basketball, and talk to his wonderful family back home.
Robin King, B.S. Scientist II
Robin handles several aspects of the daily operations of the laboratory including management of our transgenic mouse colony, one of the largest at the University of Kentucky. She is also skilled in immunohistochemistry and other antibody based molecular techniques.
Li Xu, B.S. Research Technician
Charlie Payne, Research Analyst/Manager
Before joining the Ambati Team in March of 2010, Charles was co-manager at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kentucky from 2005 to 2009, where he studied the role of hypertension in the development of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He has amassed a wide variety of laboratory techniques over the years in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Physiology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and Internal Medicine. He currently functions in the role of co-manager along with Gary Pattison of the Ambati Team with primary responsibilities in the areas of materials acquisition and equipment management, most day-to-day operations of the lab, space utilization, all aspects of biological safety and associated protocols. He enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid outdoorsman.
Gary R Pattison, B.A., A.A.S., LAT Research Analyst Senior/Manager
Gary grew up in Virginia and received his bachelors degree from Emory & Henry College. After moving to Lexington he also completed the Computer Information Systems & Technology program at Lexington Community College (now Bluegrass Community and Technical College.) He is an American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) Laboratory Animal Technician, with 15+ years of experience with laboratory animal models and their care. He joined the Ambati lab the end of 2005 and became full-time with the lab in August 2010 and continues to look after the lab's mice, including the electronic ones now too. Outside of work, he likes to kayak, hike, geocache, and gives his attention to bettering his community and the environment.
Darrell Robertson, B.S. Research Analyst Senior
Darrell, though a transplant from the state of Ohio, has spent the last thirty years in Kentucky. He attended Eastern Kentucky University and earned his B.S. in Biology in 1984. He spent several years working a number of different jobs while taking additional classes. During this time he joined the Kentucky Army National Guard and worked on his oil painting. In 1986 he met and married his lovely wife Carol. He took his first job at the University of Kentucky in 1988 and has been here ever since. Darrell has worked in the following departments; Biology, Biochemistry, Surgery, Microbiology/Immunology/Molecular Genetics, Internal Medicine and now Ophthalmology. Darrell joined Dr. Ambati's lab in December of 2010. He is currently working extensively with the transgenic mouse colony. When not at work, Darrell is active in the Boy Scouts of America, where he is the Committee Chair for Troop 401 in Richmond. His son Lucas recently received his Eagle Scout rank and his parents are justly proud. In their nonexistent spare time, Darrell and his Family raise chickens, dogs and cats.
Gregory Botzet, B.S. Research Analyst
As a child Greg watched the movie 'Jurassic Park' which left an indelible impression. He then went on raptorial pursuit of a BS in Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota. He moved after accepting the honor to work in Dr. Ambati's lab at the University of Kentucky. He is listed as an author on one paper from a previous lab, enjoys rock climbing and palaver at coffee shops.
Lindsay Toll, B.A. Research Technician
Lindsay Toll graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2009 earning a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology with departmental honors. Her thesis was on the role of customary, state and international law in the healthcare of sub-Saharan Africans, under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Lyon. Lindsay joined the lab in July 2012 and is excited for the opportunity to work and learn with such a great team.
Annette Uittenbogaard, A.A.S. Scientist III
Annette was delighted to join the Ambati team in 2013 and brings years of experience in current molecular biology protocols. At UK, she has been a member of the Physiology department, studying cholesterol transport through cell membrane caveolae and a member of the Microbiology department, studying the interaction of the plague bacteria with the mammalian immune system. Annette has now turned her attention to atherosclerosis research headed by Dr. Brad Gelfand. Annette, husband Bryan and daughter Amie have lived in Lexington for 18 years. Outside of the lab, Annette’s activities are caring for her perennial gardens, being secretary for her book club, and cleaning up after her three cats.
John Sutton, Volunteer
John is a senior at the University of Kentucky. He is currently working for a B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology. Originally from Ocean Springs, MS, John came to Lexington to be a member of the University of Kentucky's Rifle team, one of the 22 NCAA teams on campus. He joined the lab in the summer of 2014. John provides a hand in the day to day experiments that are being run and looks forward to gaining knowledge about the mechanisms and underlying causes of AMD. Despite playing a small role, he enjoys the knowledge that he may one day help in finding a cure for AMD. Currently studying for the MCAT, John doesn't have much free time but if he did, he would spend it camping, biking, and trying his hand in crossfit.
Lab Alumni:Soumyava Basu, M.D. Visiting Head, Retinal Vitreous Services, LVPEI 2013 July - 2014 June
Arpitha Parthasarathy, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Fellow 2012 March - 2013 June
Natalie Silver, M.D. Medical Scholar 2011 September - 2012 June
Yoshio Hirano, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2010 April - 2012 June
Valeria Tarallo, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2010 January - 2012 August
Sasha Bogdanovich, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2010 January - 2013 August
Alex Blandford, M.D. Medical Scholar 2008 July - 2010 June
Martha Grace Green, M.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2008 July - 2009 June
Sami Dridi, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2008 May - 2012 June
Hiroki Kaneko, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2008 April - 2010 December
Kuniharu Saito, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2008 March - 2009 June
Wongil Cho, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2007 September - 2010 February
Kiyoshi Yamada, M.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2006 July - 2008 June
Romulo Albuquerque, D.D.S., M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2005 - 2009 July & 2013 May -
Atsunobu Takeda, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2005 September - 2007 August
Brian J. Raisler, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2004 July - 2007 June
Miho Nozaki, M.D., Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2004 May - 2006 August
Judit Baffi, M.D., Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor 2003 July - 2012 June
Eiji Sakurai, M.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2002 October - 2004 June
Akshay Anand, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Scholar 2001 July - 2003 June
Matt McConnell, M.S. Research Associate/Manager 2008 July - 2010 August
Hunter Morgan Volunteer
Brad Kauffman Volunteer
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