Transplanting the entire eye will present far more complex issues than more common organ or other tissue transplants. Furthermore, to succeed in all the involved facets of the operation, it will require the highest expertise across many disciplines. To that end, Dr. Joel S. Schuman has designed a way to resolve the inherent issues that consistently impeded progress in the past. Dr. Schuman has worked to establish a large, multi-disciplinary collaboration, combining several of the preeminent departments across the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC infrastructure with leading scientists from other world-class academic and research institutions.
Combining the expertise of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and noted surgeons, Dr. Kia Washington and Dr. Vijay Gorantla, with experts at the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh (including Dr. Schuman and the Opthalmic Imaging Researach Lab led by Dr. Gadi Wollstein), Dr. Schuman established a strong framework to lead the scientific efforts. This basis soon extended outwards, building a collaboration with experts in optic nerve regeneration at Havard University, led by Dr. Larry Benowitz, and retinal regeneration at the University of California in San Diego, led by Dr. Jeff Goldberg.
At the Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, we believe that setting a bold goal is critical to innovation and success in creating new and important discoveries, and to improving the care that we can offer our patients. "This project is an audacious program," states Dr. Joel Schuman, " with very high risk and high reward scenarios. We are very excited to be spearheading it, and very honored to to have been collaborating with global leaders in optic nerve regeneration." "In some ways, the whole concept sounds crazy," Dr. Schuman continues, "but by solving one facet of the problem at a time, this may be possible." The entire project has just started to form - creating this collaborative team was an enormous first step. The next step involves bringing in the necessary funding to suppport the work, followed by establishing animal models and testing for preliminary results.