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VISION A bi-annual publication of the Georgia Health Sciences

Culver Vision Discovery Institute

From the Directors:

In this issue:

L-R : Sylvia Smith, Ph.D. and Julian Nussbaum, M.D.


Alumni Meet



  Transition…A passage, a change or a crossing from one state of being to another. This is the theme and substance of our redesigned newsletter, Vision. Through philanthropic generosity and belief in our mission, retired Gen. James and Jean Culver have provided the resources necessary to transition our institute to a new state of being, The James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute. With the gift from the Culvers, Culver VDI firmly establishes itself as an innovative program delivering highimpact research in vision science.   Another article highlights accomplishments of Folami Lamoke, and her mentor, Manuela Bartoli, Ph.D. Folami has enjoyed remarkable success as she moves through the early stages of her career, and has obtained competitive funding to support her research into the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy.   The final article is a tribute to Sally Atherton, Ph.D. who is leaving Georgia Health Sciences University, transitioning to a new role as Executive Director of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Her campus presence will be missed, but we know that her selfless work in support of the Culver VDI, which she helped to establish, will continue.   We hope you enjoy the revised format of the newsletter as we keep you informed of upcoming events and remarkable achievements of members of the Culver VDI. VISION

Member Profile


Publications Director: Christine Hurley Deriso Editor/Designer: Patricia Johnson Photographers: Mike Stanley, Phil Jones and Patricia Johnson Links: Contact: 706-721-2727

Development L-R: James Culver, M.D.,Ret. Gen. with astronaut James McDivitt, Ret. Brig. Gen.

GRATEFUL GIFTS- VISION DISCOVERY INSTITUTE BECOMES CULVER VISION DISCOVERY INSTITUTE   Plan your work, then work your plan (but don’t forget to have some fun along the way) – A simple creed that really works, not only in your chosen profession but in life and in giving as well.   For longer than most of us can remember, leaders in industry, business, public service, the military, higher education and philanthropy have “planned their work and worked their plan.” Some of the terminology has evolved over the years, coining phrases such as strategic plan, paradigm shift and continuous quality improvement. But the basics have stayed the same: make a good plan, then work hard to make it happen. Gen. James F. Culver and his wife, Jean, have been doing just that during their 65 plus years together.   Born in 1921 in Macon, Ga., where he attended elementary and secondary schools, Culver is Georgia born and bred. After attending Virginia Military Institute and Mercer University, he matriculated at the Medical College of Georgia. He planned to become a physician and worked diligently toward that goal.   Culver was a gifted student, both smart and serious. But he was ever mindful of the great balancing act of life – making sure to incorporate fun and laughter along the way, relishing both the journey and the goal.   While following his plan to become a physician specializing in ophthalmology, he met a beautiful nurse

and his soul mate, Jean, along the way. They married in 1947 and have been best friends ever since.   As a new physician, Culver went into private practice in California, settling with Jean into a home overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   But plans have a way of shifting. Such was the case when the U.S. Air Force came calling – looking for medical expertise for its aerospace program. This exciting chapter in Culver’s practice included supporting the astronauts of the Mercury and Gemini projects, treating President Lyndon B. Johnson and having a significant impact on the vision care of members of the USAF.   He chaired the Aerospace Medical Panel for the Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and DevelopmentNATO from 1972-74 and was President of the Space Medicine Branch of the Aerospace Medical Association.   Culver accumulated numerous awards, all the while serving as a gifted chief flight surgeon, with more than 2,000 flying hours. But the award he holds most dear is the prestigious Arnold D. Tuttle Award, given by the Aerospace Medical Association. Culver earned this award for his investigation into the potential impact of flying and aerospace duties on ocular disease – groundbreaking research in support of the new and exciting frontier of space travel.   Meanwhile, Culver and his wife enjoyed seeing the

Development: world. Throughout his professional life, spanning over 50 years, he quietly harbored another plan . . . a plan to give back, particularly to the people and institutions which helped mentor and mold him to become an accomplished surgeon and Air Force officer.   So, when Dr. Julian Nussbaum, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and leader of the Vision Discovery Institute, contacted Culver to engage him as a respected professional colleague, it seems only natural that a plan would be born.   Culver quickly embraced the work being done at the VDI as it resonated with his own lifelong journey to find solutions to ocular disease problems. In fact, Culver has authored over 50 papers on experimental and clinical ophthalmology with emphasis on ocular effects of radiation, retinal burns, flash-blindness, glaucoma and aerospace medicine. So he fully appreciates the VDI mission, particularly “to have far-reaching clinical applications for patients suffering from blindness and visual disorders.” The Medical College of Georgia beckoned as a worthy institution for his philanthropic plans.   The two scientists/researchers/clinicians quickly became friends as well as colleagues. By this time, the Culvers had retired to Florida and the Nussbaum family, with two young children in tow and Disney World beckoning, began including a visit to the Culvers as part of their regular trek to the sunshine state. An unbreakable bond was formed. And, not surprisingly, a visionary plan was born.   Wishing to make a difference and to leave a legacy for future generations, the Culvers planned a gift of magnanimous proportions. Their $2 million donation will be transformational for the VDI and for the legions of students, researchers and patients who will benefit from its work.   Even prior to the commitment by the Culvers, Nussbaum and his family shared a deep and abiding respect for the family. It is with great humility that Nussbaum will look up each day to see the name of his trusted friends as he enters the Gen. James F. Culver, M.D and Jean Culver Visionary Discovery Institute. An institute of great scholarship and research. An institute worthy of the Culver name. VISION


At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago, MCG alumni gathered with faculty to learn about recent developments at GHSU and the Culver VDI.

Mike Stanley's photograph of Avelino Corneal Dystrophy made the cover of the “EyeNet Magazine” for the annual American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in Chicago. In addition, his fluorescein angiographic photo submission placed first in the annual Ophthalmic Photographers Society competition, which receives photos from programs internationally. This is truly a remarkable achievement for Mike, the MCG Department of Ophthalmology and the Culver VDI.

Research L-R: Manuela Bartoli, Ph.D. and Folami Lamoke


  Folami Lamoke, a pre-doctoral fellow, is working to illuminate factors that lead to the progression of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Lamoke, a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is mentored by Manuela Bartoli, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology. Both are members of the Culver Vision Discovery Institute.   “Our research helps the understanding of molecular events associated with the formation of free radicals and those free radicals causing tissue damage in the retinas of diabetic patients,” says Bartoli. “The result of our research will help develop strategies to prevent retinal damage in diabetics by designing more appropriate antioxidant therapies.”   Diabetes leads to the overproduction of free radicals, a critical event causing complications such as diabetic retinopathy. The researchers aim to elucidate how the impairment of endogenous anti-oxidant defense mechanisms prevents the retina from protecting against the accumulation of free radicals. This in turn causes retinal injury, leading to progression of the disease.   The GHSU researchers use eye tissue from donors of the Georgia Eye Bank and diabetic rats to determine how endogenous antioxidant systems are affected in Diabetic Retinopathy. Lamoke and Bartoli also utilize isolated retinal cells exposed to elevated glucose levels.

  “When I started working with Dr. Bartoli, I was inspired by her scope of research and approach to science,” says Lamoke.   That inspiration led Lamoke to fuel her passion for research. She hopes to continue studies on diseases such as Diabetic Retinopathy that can disproportionately affect underserved communities.   Whether through studies, service or education, Bartoli is proud to be part of a larger picture: the future of research.   “I believe that our responsibility as mentors of graduate students is very important. We are like elementary school teachers,” says Bartoli. “We form the basis of the student’s education and practical approach to science and we also help them entering a profession in medical science and academia. It is a great honor and I am greatly committed to it.”   This research, funded by the National Eye Institute, should yield new treatment pathways for this blinding disease.

Member Profile Sally Atherton, Ph.D.

SALLY ATHERTON, PH.D. ACCEPTS ARVO POSITION   Sally S. Atherton, Ph.D., a founding member of the James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute, is leaving in January and the institute bids her a fond farewell. She will work as Executive Director of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the top vision research organization in the world. Atherton is exceptionally well suited to represent the interests of vision scientists across the globe.   Atherton joined the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University in 2000 as Chair of the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy and was named Regents’ Professor in 2008. She earned a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and completed postdoctoral fellowships in molecular virology and immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, respectively. Atherton’s research focuses on the area of virologic and immunologic mechanisms of ocular and central nervous system infections caused by members of the herpes virus family. Not surprisingly, her work is recognized by the National Eye Institute.   Testimony to Atherton’s leadership in the field is her service on numerous research review panels and editorial boards. She has trained numerous pre- and post-doctoral fellows and is a very strong advocate for the careers of many vision researchers.   VISION

  Atherton, who joined ARVO in 1983, has held numerous leadership positions within the organization, including Trustee, Program Committee Member, Site Selection Committee Member, President (2002-03 ), Past President (2003-04) and Executive Vice President (2007-12).   Her exemplary service earned her distinction as an ARVO Fellow (Gold). She serves as a stalwart advocate for vision research and has educated congressional leaders on the importance of eye and vision research. She is a member of the National Scientific Advisory Council, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors of the International Council of Ophthalmology. Atherton is a former Fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program.   In 2008, Atherton, along with colleagues Ruth Caldwell, Julian Nussbaum and Sylvia Smith, served as the founding members of the Culver VDI. Atherton has been a vital part of this initiative since its inception, serving as a member of its internal advisory board as well as its many activities to promote vision research on our campus.   “Through the monthly VDI seminar series, faculty and trainees have interacted with internationally known vision scientists increasing recognition of the vision research programs at GHSU beyond campus boundaries. I congratulate the VDI on becoming the Culver VDI, and I look forward to hearing about its continued growth and success,” says Atherton.

Culver VDI Faculty Julian Nussbaum, M.D. VDI Clinical co-director, Chair of Department of Ophthalmology

Jay Hegdé, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute

Sylvia Smith, Ph.D. VDI Basic science co-director Professor, Cell Biology/Anatomy, Ophthalmology, Graduate Studies

Tetsu Kamitani, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Center for Molecular Chaperone/Radiobiology and Cancer Virology

Sally Atherton, Ph.D. Regents’ Professor and Chair of Cell Biology/Anatomy, Regents’ Professor of Ophthalmology & Graduate Studies

Daniel Killingworth, M.D. Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Corneal and External Disease specialist, VAMC

Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Oral Biology and Graduate Studies

Gregory Liou, Ph.D. Professor of Ophthalmology, Graduate Studies

Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Neurology, Graduate Studies and Physical Therapy

Pamela Martin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Ophthalmology, Graduate Studies

Babak Baban, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Oral Biology and Graduate Studies Manuela Bartoli, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Kathryn Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology David Bogorad, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology Wendy Bollag, Ph.D. Professor of Medicine, Cell Biology/Anatomy, Orthopedic Surgery and Graduate Studies Kathy Bradley, Ed.D., O.T.R./L., F.A.O.T.A. Professor of Occupational Therapy, College of Allied Health Sciences Ruth B. Caldwell, Ph.D. Professor of Cell Biology/Anatomy, Ophthalmology and Graduate Studies William Caldwell, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Pharmacology and Toxicology Professor of Graduate Studies Raymond Chong, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Graduate Studies and Physical Therapy Azza El-Remessy, Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medicine, Graduate Studies and Ophthalmology Stephanie Goei, M.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Pediatrics and Medicine, Assistant Residency Program Director, Pediatric Service Michael Jensen Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Illustration William Andres, M.A., C.M.I., F.A.M.I. Professor, Department of Medical Illustration Andrea Prosser, M.D. Instructor of Ophthalmology Mariana D’Amico, Ed.D. Associate Professor, College of Allied Health Sciences

Jeffrey Mumm, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Cell Biology/Anatomy and Graduate Studies Priya Narayanan, Ph.D. Assistant Research Scientist, Vascular Biology Center, Cell Biology/Anatomy Alan Saul, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology Puttur D. Prasad, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Obstetrics and Gynecology John E. Riffle, M.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology/Comprehensive Ophthalmology Vitreo-retinal surgery, VAMC Dilip A. Thomas, M.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Director, Oculoplastics Service Lane Ulrich, M.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Residency Program Director, Department of Ophthalmology Richard E. White, Ph.D. Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Graduate Studies Zhiyong Yang, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute Ming Zhang, M.D., Ph.D. Research Scientist, Cell Biology /Anatomy Wenbo Zhang, Ph.D. Assistant Research Scientist, Vascular Biology Center, Pharmacology and Toxicology Brendan Marshall, Ph.D. Associate Research Scientist, Cellular Biology & Anatomy Diego Espinosa, M.D. Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology Lakshman Segar, Ph.D. Associate Professor, College of Pharmacology

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Culver VDI Events Distinguished Seminar Series

Riverhawks Night

March 16, 2013

Jan. 15

Carol Shields, M.D. (Wills Eye Institute) “Nuts and Bolts of Intraocular Tumors” Feb. 19 Rachel Kuchtey, M.D., Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University) “Microfibrils in Glaucoma Pathogenesis” Mar. 15 Culver VDI Retreat Key Note Speaker: Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., Ph.D.

Genentech Apr. 16 David Antonetti, Ph.D. (Univ. of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center) “Targeting Tight Junctions to Control Vascular Permeability” May 21 Susanne Mohr, Ph.D. (Michigan State University) “The IL-1 Family and Its Potential Role in Diabetic Retinopathy”

The Department of Ophthalmology meets Mondays for Grand Rounds.Thier meetings feature unique and challenging medical and surgical cases as well as discussions on medical ethics. Meetings begin at 7:15 a.m. in BC 130 at Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center.


The Vision is a publication from the Culver Vision Discovery Institute.