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Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD


Department of Ophthalmology

305 Stellar-Chance Labs

Visit the lab website here

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. The Dunaief lab wants to stop it. In 2003, we established that elevated iron levels may contribute to AMD. Since then, we have been studying the role of iron in the pathogenesis of AMD, focusing on its contribution to inflammation, organelle dysfunction, and metabolic dysregulation. We are also investigating therapeutic iron chelators that have the potential to slow or even halt the progression of AMD. 

The Dunaief lab uses both traditional molecular biology techniques like cell culture, Western blot, and qPCR, as well as cutting-edge techniques being developed here at Penn, including magnetic retinal cell sorting, induced pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal cells, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and scanning laser ophthalmoscopy. We use a variety of models, including cell culture, mice, and donated human samples. Join us in the goal to prevent this devastating disease! 

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Fundus imaging of an eye injected with a retina-specific AAV inducing GFP expression. Image by Brandon Anderson.

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Iron-induced fundus autofluorescence, imaged using confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (cSLO). Image by Yingrui Liu. 


Colabeling of an autophagy and peroxisome marker in the retina of a mouse with chronic iron overload. Image by Kevin Zhang. 

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