Ocular Research Center


Lab Location

Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research
1410 N 21st St.
Tampa, FL

In June 2016 I established a research laboratory in the Ocular Research Center at the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research (LEITR) in Tampa, FL.

During my postdoctoral studies from 1994-1998, the accommodation and presbyopia research I was doing gained attention from companies interested in the possibility of restoring accommodation to the presbyopic eye. As an independent academic scientist from 1998-2016, I became progressively more involved with many companies through funded research projects and as a consultant. In the research in my lab during this time, I developed techniques to work with human donor eyes to study the anatomy of the eye, the age related changes in the optical and mechanical properties of the lens related to the mechanism of accommodation and the causes of presbyopia.

Human donor eye in custom designed and 3D printed eye holder.
donor eye

This work included developing and refining a cataract surgery procedure combined with a computer-controlled, motorized, mechanical stretching system to simulate the accommodative mechanism of the living eye in human donor tissues. This approach proved appealing to small start-up and larger ophthalmic companies with interests in the development of accommodative intraocular lenses. This approach, using human donor eyes, offers the only way to immediately assess performance of accommodative intraocular lens designs using the mechanical forces of the human lens capsular bag. This offers the opportunity to do rapid, cost-effective prototyping and iterative development and re-design of these biomechanical devices to achieve the mechanical performance that is appropriate for the human eye. Trying to do this kind of early stage development in the only appropriate animal model for human accommodation and presbyopia, namely monkeys, or in human clinical studies can be ethically charged, slow, costly and challenging. Using human donor eyes offers an extremely attractive, rapid, cost effective alternative for early-stage development.

I had long been aware of LEITR's interest in expanding and broadening their research capabilities through having worked with LEITR CEO Jason Woody over the years in procuring human donor eyes for my research. In deciding to resign my academic appointment to pursue more entrepreneurial opportunities as an independent consultant, it became clear to me that an opportunity may exist to move my laboratory equipment and continue industry-funded research projects at LEITR. It seemed a natural match and LEITR were enthusiastic and made this possible. The greater availability and choice of human donor tissues from within LEITR, the opportunity to access tissues with shorter procurement-to-use times and in higher volumes from within LEITR than I was able to before and to do industry funded research projects without the contractual and intellectual property constraints of an academic institution, offers exciting opportunities. The opportunity to expand LEITR's research to include lens and cataract and to attract new corporate partners and opportunities is also mutually appealing. I am developing collaborative opportunities with other local Tampa research and ophthalmic organizations to, for example, utilize high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of human donor eyes for these IOL and human donor eye studies.

Example of a high resolution MRI obtained from a human donor eye. The resolution achieved is 60 microns.
eye MRI

Video of a full volumetric 3D reconstruction of the lens in CAD software from multiple serial MRI sections in three orthogonal meridians from a human donor eye. Only three images of the 65 MR images acquired are shown.

The lab was established in LEITR in 2016 and is well equipped with instrumentation for work with human donor eyes and for in-vitro cataract surgical procedures. The equipment includes a phakoemulsification instrument, video equipped ophthalmic surgical microscope, custom instrumentation for development and testing of accommodative intraocular lenses, a video equipped stereomicroscope, ophthalmic imaging and optical diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound biomicroscopes, wavefront aberrometers and autorefractors. The laboratory is well equipped with video image analysis capabilities and I have extensive experience in working with all of this equipment.

The lab is well equipped for video-teleconferencing, so all lab work being performed can be live-simulcast directly from the surgical microscopes or video cameras via internet web-casting services. This allows research partners to observe, participate and get direct feedback from the work being performed in the lab from remote locations. In addition, if you should wish to travel to be present in the lab to participate in-person while the lab work is performed, I welcome that too.

If you are interested in exploring possible laboratory research projects, please feel free to contact me via the contact information on my home page.