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Directors   The past six months have been a period of tremendous accomplishment for members of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute. We held our 5th annual retreat in March, and our Keith Green Lecture was delivered by pioneering scientist Dr. Napoleone Ferrara. We had an excellent scientific session with many trainees and faculty members presenting the results of their research.   Over the past few months, several Culver VDI members have secured extramural support for their work including Drs. Bartoli, Al-Shabrawey, Hegde, Yang, Caldwell, Akinwuntan, and ElRemessy. We congratulate Dr. Jay Hegde for his Emerging Scientist Award, Dr. Ruth Caldwell for her appointment as a Veterans Affairs Research Career Scientist, and Dr. Abiodun Akinwuntan for Fulbright Foreign Scholarship. We commend Drs. Hegde, Saul, and Yang for successfully coordinating the new Visual Neuroscience course. We congratulate Dr. Mariana D’Amico for her work with the Georgia Vision Rehabilitation Center and thank Dr. Andrew Balas, Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences, for his unwavering support of this important resource.   One of our exciting new initiatives is a collaboration with Superior Academy of Augusta. Through the Visionary Warrior Training program, we are creating a fun, safe, confidence-building, and physically strengthening event for children with visual impairment. The event will teach children the basics of self-defense through specially tailored martial arts classes taught by Sifu Jason Herrera, a hall-of-fame martial arts expert.



  Finally, our monthly seminar series has been quite successful this year, and we appreciate Dr. Kathryn Bollinger’s oversight of the program and thank Dr. Jeffrey Mumm for coordinating the Culver VDI Group Meetings for the past several years. These venues provide excellent opportunities for interactions and collaboration. Of course, much of what we have been able to accomplish would not be possible without the generous support of Georgia Regents University, as well as our generous benefactors. Our sincerest thanks to all. Culver VDI co-directors

Julian Nussbaum, M.D. Sylvia Smith, Ph.D.







Visionary Warriors


Member Folio




New Faces

On the cover: Dr. Kathryn Bollinger


Green Endowment Memorializes Leader

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”—John Quincy Adams

  By all definitions

of leadership, Dr. Keith Green was a leader. And he was the type of leader who left an indelible impression on his students and residents—inspiring them to pursue careers in ophthalmology research and practice.   Green, who joined MCG as Director of Ophthalmology Research in 1974, earned international renown in a career that included contributing to 30 books on eye research and publishing more than 330 articles in professional journals.   But it was Green’s passion as a teacher that most impressed his students—particularly Dr. Anastasios Costarides, who was so inspired by Green’s enthusiasm that he remembered his mentor long after he began his own career in ophthalmology.   Costarides wanted to keep his memory alive in a meaningful way—at the place where Green taught, researched, lectured, and led during a career that spanned over 25 years before his death in 2001.   Costarides established the Dr. Keith Green Lectureship Endowment to help attract worldrenowned researchers to deliver the keynote address at the annual Culver Vision Discovery Institute retreat.

  Since its establishment, Green’s family and other alumni have made additional contributions, resulting in significant growth of the endowment and a lasting legacy to a visionary leader.   The recognition is greatly appreciated by those who knew him well. “He was absolutely great at his research, but he was also a wonderful person with a good sense of humor,” said Dr. Malcolm N. Luxenberg, former Chairman and Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology at MCG. “He had a chuckle you could hear across the hall.”

To Contribute: To contribute to the Dr. Keith Green Lectureship Endowment, use the enclosed giving envelope or contact David Cantrell at 706-721-1817.



RIVERHAWKS GAME March 16, 2013


  The 5th annual Culver VDI Retreat was held March 14 and 15 at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church. Ten Culver VDI members presented their research and 22 presented posters. Dr. Napoleon Ferrera, Distinguished Professor of Pathology at the University of California, Senior Deputy Director for Basic Sciences, Moores Cancer Center delivered the Dr. Keith Green Lectureship keynote address.

To view photos, visit-




  The 4th annual Friends of Vision event was held on May 18. This gathering features physicians, researchers, GRU leadership, and patients of Georgia Regents Medical Center. During this intimate reception, we highlight research achievements of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute such as new cures and treatments for visual impairment. It is also a terrific opportunity to connect with our patients and supporters on a more personal level.   Once again, this year’s event was held at the home of Dr. David and Alissa Bogorad. Provost Gretchen Caughman and Vice President for Research Dr. Mark Hamrick provided introductory remarks and Dr. Kathryn Bollinger highlighted her research in glaucoma. Over 40 guests attended this reception, half of whom were patients or patient family members. To view photos, visit -


Aims to Prevent Vision Loss from Glaucoma


 The cause of blindness delivers a devastating wallop, and Dr. Kathryn Bollinger isn’t satisfied with treatment options that offer little more help than softening the blow.   Dr. Kathryn Bollinger (pictured), who joined Georgia Regents University four years ago, says her glaucoma expertise “is really patient-inspired. Generally, once the disease is diagnosed, we can control the process. But for a significant percentage of patients, vision loss is significant enough to affect their daily living.”   That being the case, she considers the status quo unacceptable.   Glaucoma is caused by increased intraocular pressure resulting from an imbalance in intraocular fluid production and loss. The pressure can stress nerve cells and axons, potentially impairing vision. The damage to the cells and axons is currently irreversible. Topical treatments can decrease pressure by reducing fluid production or increasing outflow through a secondary drainage system. Another option is surgically creating a new pathway for fluid outflow.   “The outcomes are variable for current therapeutic strategies, which are designed to decrease intraocular pressure,” said Bollinger. So she’s targeting the damaged cells instead.   Using funding from the National Institutes of Health and American Glaucoma Society, she and

Culver VDI Co-Director Sylvia Smith are using a mouse model to study sigma receptor ligands, which show neuro-protective properties robust enough to prevent cell death.   “Work has already been done in cell culture, where sigma receptor ligands show the ability to modulate the responses of cells that support neurons (glial cells),” said Bollinger. “We think this may be the mechanism for the neuroprotective properties we observe in other non-glaucoma types of models. We haven’t tested them in glaucoma yet, but we are optimistic we’ll see neuroprotective properties in our animal models with glaucoma.”   If so, clinical trials are the next step. “GRU has really facilitated my research,” Bollinger said. “In the work we’ve done so far, we’re seeing what we hoped to see. I’m very optimistic about the future.”

About Dr. Bollinger: •Originally from Eau Claire, Wis. •Earned M.D. and Ph.D. at Medical College of Wisconsin •Began ophthalmology research while completing graduate work, mentored by Drs. Jay and Maureen Neitz, internationally renowned retina experts •Completed residency and fellowship training at Cleveland Clinic •Joined GRU in 2009 •Recipient of 2010 ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician/Scientist Research Award


Karate Kids

Visionary Warriors Take Chop at Vision Impairment

To view video, visit

  The James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute

joined forces

this summer with a local martial arts studio to strengthen the bodies and minds of visionimpaired children.   The program, Visionary Warriors, uses Wing Chun Kung Fu to enhance the sensory awareness skills of visionimpaired children.   Already known for raising awareness of childhood vision disease research projects, the James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute is raising funds to sponsor this program.

Setting Sights:

  “We teach the children sensitivity drills, feeling what others are doing, and responding to those movements free of visual help,” said Sifu Jason Herrera, owner of Superior Academy in Evans, Ga. and 14-year veteran of martial arts. “These drills teach you how to use self-defense and are more effective than using vision.”   According to Herrera, vision requires seeing, analyzing, and responding to an environment.



When using Wing Chun Kung Fu, participants skip the step of using vision and feel the disruption in the situation, then react. This program enhances skills that vision-impaired children are accustomed to as they already use touch to respond to an environment.   The drills place the children side-byside using slow-non-combative Kung Fu movements. During these drills, the children will feel each other’s movement and learn to make the necessary responses. This safe practice will strengthen their bodies as they learn to react to the movements made to them.

Building Confidence:

  The Visionary Warriors aims to strengthen not only the sensory awareness skills of the children, but also their confidence.   “The program will help kids tap into a warrior personality archetype,” said Herrera. “This is the ability to get things done without fear or hesitation, helps build confidence and self-esteem, teaching how to set goals and accomplish them, and allowing them to be more successful by using these tools in other areas in life.”

Member Folio

Bloodstream Holds Clues to Retinal Disease

A Georgia Regents University cellular biologist is probing the bloodstream to suss out information about the retina.   “As a postdoc, I got interested in

diabetic retinopathy

—a vascular injury that causes people to lose vision,” said Dr. Ruth Caldwell, whose colleagues include husband William Caldwell, Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “It’s the most common cause of blindness in adults of working age, so it’s a major focus of research. We still don’t really have a good way to prevent it except by maintaining very good control of blood sugar levels, which is difficult for most people to achieve.”   The disease involves abnormal blood vessels. In some patients, dysfunctional, leaky vessels grow in places they aren’t supposed to be. In others, the vessels break down and leak, causing the retina to swell. “The retina needs a clear path for a light signal to reach the photo receptors,” the cell biologist said. “The light has to go all the way through retinal tissue to reach them, and when blood vessels grow in the wrong place or leak and cause the tissue to swell, it interrupts the pathway. We want to find out why the vessels are not working properly to begin with.”

  She and her colleagues have funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the disease, a common side effect of diabetes, from several different angles.   Her focus is an enzyme called arginase. Arginase is present in most cells, but when overactive, it takes needed l-arginine, an amino acid, from nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide synthase starved of adequate l-arginine can’t produce enough nitric oxide to maintain proper blood flow. “Nitric oxide keeps blood flowing in vessels,” Caldwell said. “When the enzyme that makes it malfunctions, blood flow is impaired, platelets become sticky, and leukocytes slow down and stick to the vessel wall. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia will increase the amount and activity of arginase.”   The researchers are studying culture cells and animal models to determine the function of arginase in relation to prediabetes and vascular dysfunction. They are collaborating with Dr. Yanbin Dong, a GRU geneticist and cardiologist, to study the process in humans.   The research is vital, the scientists note, because the current treatment for diabetic retinopathy— burning the retina—isn’t a viable treatment option


until damage has already been done. “The treatment usually stops the disease and prevents further vision loss, but it doesn’t restore whatever has been lost already,” Caldwell said.   On her wish list is equipment to measure retinal vascular function in humans. Inhibitors are available to control arginase activity, so documenting and quantifying the dysfunction early in individual patients could offer a way to prevent early injury and resulting vision impairment. “If this turns out to be a viable target,” she said, “it could lead to new treatments and serve as a biomarker that the patient is at risk of developing diabetes complications.”

GRANTS A. Akinwuntan: National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

M. Al-Shabrawey: Qatar National Research Fund (NPRP 4-1046-3-284) 1R01EY023315-01

M. Bartoli: NEI 1F31EY022289, NEI

All in the Family   Drs. Ruth and William Caldwell cite several advantages of working together—and not just a cheaper commute.   “It’s very helpful to brainstorm with my husband when we have things going on in the lab,” Dr. Ruth Caldwell said. “We work on different aspects of diabetic complications— he’s a cardiovascular physiologist and I’m a retinal cell biologist—so we each bring different perspectives to the table.”   Including the dinner table, which may be one reason their two sons opted out of science careers. “I’m sure they had their fill of it growing up,” said Caldwell with a laugh, “and they saw their dad and me working lots of weekends.” Both sons pursued business careers, which suits their parents just fine. “They’re both doing what they love, which is the most important thing,” Caldwell says.   As for the Caldwells’ four grandchildren, well, perhaps they’ll absorb their grandparents’ lesson that careers and family life needn’t veer off in different directions. “I think it makes for a complementary rather than competitive interaction,” Caldwell says of life by her husband’s side—both at work and at home.



R01EY022416, International Retina Research Foundation

RB. Caldwell: 2 R01 EY011766-14A1, R24 DK094765-01, ASPET travel award, ARVO travel award, VA Research Career Scientist

W. Caldwell: NEI 5RO1EY011766-15, NIDDK 1R24DK0947651-1

A. El-Remessy: R01 EY022408, Pre-

doctoral award from AHA, Post-doctoral award from AHA, ARVO travel award

J. Hegde: Army Research Office

W911NF-12-1-0319, NSF IOS-1147097

G. Liou: Egyptian Cultural and Educational Center

J. Mumm: NIDDK 12GHSU209 S. Smith: 2R01 EY012839-10 (Co-I: A. Saul, V. Ganapathy, K. Bollinger)

Z. Yang: Airforce Office of Scientific Research FA2386-12-1-3030/DURIP

M. Zhang: Retinal Research Foundation


New Faces

Meet our new members

Bill M. Andrews, M.A., C.M.I., F.A.M.I. Interim Chairman Program Director Professor Department of Medical Illustration

  Bill Andrews is Interim Chairman and Professor in the Department of Medical Illustration at Georgia Regents University where he serves as the Program Director for the Medical Illustration Graduate Program. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Arts in Biomedical Communications from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior at the University of South Carolina. Andrews is a Certified Medical Illustrator and a Fellow of the Association of Medical Illustrators.

Michael Jensen, M.S., C.M.I. Assistant Professor Department of Medical Illustration

  Mike Jensen received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University in 1992 and served as Directing Animator and Supervising Animator for two children’s educational software companies in Boston from 1994-2002. Several products produced during those years won national awards, including all five of their Curious George titles. Mike has also illustrated 14 children’s books, 12 published in numerous languages. His work has been published in many neurosurgical journals and publications and is particularly known for its unique medical animation work, which has been shown around the world in medical congresses and conferences.

Shruti Sharma, Ph.D.

Research Scientist Assistant Professor Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine   Dr. Shruti Sharma’s researches the molecular mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction in cardiovascular diseases. She is interested in discerning the role of mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, disrupted nitric oxide signaling, and arginine recycling in vascular complications. Her work is supported by a Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association and an intramural award from the Cardiovascular Discovery Institute.


Kathryn Bollinger, M.D. Ophthalmology

Sylvia Smith, Ph.D.

Ruth Caldwell, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D., M.P.H., D.R.S.

William Caldwell, Ph.D. Pharmacology and Toxicology

Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, Ph.D. Oral Biology

Raymond Chong, Ph.D. Physicial Therapy

Bill Andrews, M.A., C.M.I., F.A.M.I. Medical Illustration

Mariana D’Amico, Ed.D., O.T.R./L., B.C.P. Allied Health Sciences

Sally Atherton, Ph.D. A.R.V.O.

Azza El-Remessy, Ph.D. Pharmacology and Toxicology, Experimental Therapeutics, Ophthalmology

Babak Baban, Ph.D. Oral Biology

Diego Espinosa-Heidmann, M.D. Ophthalmology

Manuela Bartoli, Ph.D. Ophthalmology

Amy Estes, M.D. Ophthalmology

David Bogorad, M.D. Ophthalmology

Vadivel Ganapathy, Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Wendy Bollag, Ph.D. Physiology

Stephanie Goei, M.D. Ophthalmology

Faculty Members

Julian Nussbaum, M.D. Ophthalmology

Celluar Biology and Anatomy, Ophthalmology

Allied Health Sciences

Puttur Prasad, Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Michael Jensen, M.S., C.M.I. Medical Illustration

John Riffle, M.D. Ophthalmology

Tetsu Kamitani, M.D. Molecular Chaperone/Radiobiology and Cancer Virology

Alan Saul, Ph.D. Ophthalmology

Daniel Killingsworth, M.D. Ophthalmology

Lakshman Segar, Ph.D. Experimental Therapeutics

Gregory Liou, Ph.D. Ophthalmology

Shruti Sharma, Ph.D. Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine

Brendan Marshall, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Amany Tawfik, M.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Pamela Martin, Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dilip Thomas, M.D. Ophthalmology

Jeffrey Mumm, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Lane Ulrich, M.D. Ophthalmology

Faculty Members

´ Ph.D. Jay Hedge, Ophthalmology

Priya Namboothiri, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy Tadd Patton, Ph.D. Psychology

Mitchell Watsky, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Zhiyong Yang, Ph.D. Ophthalmology Ming Zhang, Ph.D. Cellular Biology and Anatomy

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Communications and Marketing 1120 15th Street, AD1102 Augusta, Georgia 30912


Augusta, GA Permit No. 210


Wrong address? Need to update your information? Tell us by email at: Go online to: Or call us at: 706-721-4001



July 16 “The possible role of chronic cytomegalovirus infection as a cofactor in the development of experimental choroidal neovascularization,” Dr. Richard Dix,

Professor, Department of Biology, Viral Immunology Center, Ocular Virology & Immunology Laboratory, Georgia State University.

Aug. 20

“Diabetic Macular Edema: Current Understanding and Future Therapeutic Targets,” Dr. Arup Das, Chief of Ophthalmology Professor of Ophthalmology and Cell

Biology and Physiology, Vice Chairman of Research, Department of Surgery Director of Retina and Vitreous Service, Department of Surgery, University of New Mexico.

Sept. 17

“Structural and Cellular Changes in Vascular Abnormalities of Diabetic Retinopathy,” Dr. Sayon Roy, Professor of Medicine and Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine.


“Drug Delivery for Dry AMD: The Future is Now,” Dr. Karl Csaky, T. Boone

Pickens Senior Scientist Head, Harrington Molecular Laboratory, Retina Foundation of the Southwest Member, Texas Retina Associates.

James & Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute --Vision  
James & Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute --Vision