Mentoring Vision Research in Oklahoma
Department of Ophthalmology
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center



The six mentors on this COBRE application were chosen because of their scientific expertise, their standing in the scientific community, and their desire to actively participate in the mentoring program. Each is an expert in his or her own area, and each has a history of peer-reviewed grant support.

Dr. Hiroyuki Matsumoto is Director of three important core facilities: Analytical Biochemistry Module of the P30 Vision Center Grant; the NSF EPSCoR Oklahoma Biotechnology Network Laser Mass Spectrometry Facility; and the Proteomics Core of NCRR P20 "Functional Genomics/Proteomics Analysis of Bacterial-Host Interactions". His expertise is in the area of post-translational modification of proteins and proteomics. He has two R01 grants and will serve as mentor for Dr. John Ash.

Dr. Muna Naash is funded by one R01 grant, two from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and one from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). In addition, she has two pending NIH grants for her studies on gene therapy of inherited retinal degenerations. Her expertise is in molecular biology/gene therapy and she will mentor Dr. Michael Ihnat.

Dr. James McGinnis is funded by NIH and holds the Jules and Doris Stein Professorship from Research to Prevent Blindness for his studies on cancer-associated retinopathy and intracellular movement of cell signaling proteins. Because of his expertise in growth factors, retinal cell cultures, and molecular biology, he will mentor Dr. Wei Cao.

Dr. Robert Floyd is Department Head, Free Radical Biology & Aging Research Program, and holds the Merrick Foundation Chair in Aging Research at OMRF, and has R01 funding from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Floyd is an international authority on oxidant-stress induced cell death and will provide invaluable input as a co-mentor of Dr. Wei Cao.

Dr. Eric Howard is Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences. He is funded by two R01 grants and his expertise in the area of transcription factors, RNA metabolism, and the molecular biology of angiogenesis will be of enormous benefit as a co-mentor of Dr. Michael Ihnat. Dr. Robert Anderson's expertise is in retinal biochemistry, especially light-induced signaling cascades. He will mentor Drs. Yun Le and Raju Rajala.

We have attempted to match the mentor and PJI in complementary areas of research interest and expertise. For two PJIs, we have added a co-mentor with a particular area of expertise essential to their proposed project. Neither of the co-mentors (Drs. Floyd and Howard) are vision researchers, but both have research interests, techniques, and insights that are of great benefit to the PJIs. Also, their participation provides a mechanism to engage and perhaps involve these two outstanding scientists in a vision research project. Dr. Floyd's work on neuroprotection and ischemia-reperfusion injury in brain has immediate application in the visual system. Likewise, Dr. Howard's work on matrix metalloproteases has direct implication in one form of inherited retinal degeneration caused by a mutation in a tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease called TIMP-3 and he is exploring this line of investigation with Drs. Naash and Al-Ubaidi.