Category: Research Updates & News

First in the U.S. to Implant Wireless Retinal Device

Pixium Vision

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has implanted the first patient in the United States with a new wireless retinal device as part of a clinical trial aimed at restoring partial sight to patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that leads to permanent blindness. “Vision research has advanced dramatically in the recent past and UPMC is at the forefront of this revolution. This is the first of many such breakthroughs led by UPMC and Pitt that will benefit patients with vision loss in our community and around the world,” said José-Alain Sahel, M.D., director of the UPMC

The Challenge of Voice Patients in Transitioning to Conversational Speech

University of Pittsburgh Voice Center

Whether you are saying hello to a friend, answering a question at school or work, or simply talking to your neighbor, your voice is what often connects you to the people and world around you. Clinicians and scientists in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine continue to study voice disorders and develop innovative treatment strategies that ensure everybody can use their voice. Led by Jackie Gartner-Schmidt, PhD, and Libby Smith, DO, the UPMC Voice Center continues to provide world-class clinical care for voice patients, while also performing research projects that enable clinicians to improve

Remembering Jim Funderburgh

James L. Funderburgh, PhD

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jim Funderburgh, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Ophthalmology. Jim passed away on November 27, 2019 after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He died quietly at home surrounded by his family. His obituary is available to read online. “This is a terrible shock for us to share”, said Dr. José-Alain Sahel, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. “We knew it might happen, but nobody can be prepared for the loss of such an outstanding scientist and unique human being”. Working with his wife Martha, Jim

The Funderburgh Corneal Regeneration Project: Exploring Innovative Options for Corneal Opacities

James L. Funderburgh, PhD

Using the approach developed by the Funderburgh Laboratory, registered clinical trials in India have successfully treated over 80 patients with acute and chronic corneal opacities. In 2005, the Funderburgh Laboratory and collaborators at the Department of Ophthalmology, including Yiqin Du, MD, PhD, found stem cells in the connective tissue of the adult cornea.1 In 2009 the same group confirmed that these corneal stromal stem cells (CSSCs) were able to reconstruct the microstructure of the corneal stroma and restore corneal transparency in a genetic mouse model of corneal scarring.2 In 2014, using a mouse wound model with corneal opacity, they found that

Using Our Own Bacteria to Treat Eye Disorders

Eye Disorders

While some people associate the word ‘bacteria’ with disease or infection, Anthony St. Leger, PhD is seeing it in a different light: as a means to better eye treatment. Dr. St. Leger and his team have been investigating how the eye microbiome, a collection of microbes such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses, work together with the immune system to keep your eye healthy. “What we found is that bacteria live on your eye. And those bacteria actually stimulate an immune response that protects the eye from infection,” stated Dr. St. Leger. “We also know that bacteria stay on the eye

How Tissue Banks May Help Prevent Allergic Reactions

Stella Lee, MD

Sino-Nasal disorders remain a key area of the research taking place in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Under the direction of Stella Lee, MD, researchers and clinicians continue to study the complex, yet very common sino-nasal disorders that affect so many of us on a daily basis. “One of the most interesting and inspiring aspects of my work is the ability to develop innovative ways to tackle difficult problems,” says Dr. Lee, who treats a variety of illnesses ranging from allergies to chronic rhinosinusitis. Rhinosinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal

Engineers, Researchers, and Physicians Team Up to Advance Surgery in Pittsburgh

Dr. Duvvuri in Pittsburgh CREATES

Founded three years ago by the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh CREATES (Collaborative Research, Education, And Technology Enhancement in Surgery) is a state of- the-art Surgical Education and Surgical Innovation center housed on the first floor of Eye and Ear Institute.  CREATES was founded with guiding principle that for patients to have better surgical outcomes, surgery needed to be smarter not only in how it was performed but also in the instruments used during the procedure. The academic and research-oriented focus of the city, in combination with a burgeoning entrepreneurial culture, has given rise to multiple

Turning Back the Clock on Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States, affecting nearly two million people, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. With the aging population in America, this number is estimated to double in the coming two decades. AMD is a disease in the eye that affects the retina, which is a layer of nerve cells in the back of the eye that senses light and sends signals to the brain so a person can see. AMD occurs when a specific part of the retina called the macular is damaged, causing a person

Hearing Loss and Your Greater Health

Hearing Loss and Your Greater Health

Consistently ranked among the best programs in the country, the Department of Audiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine continues to work towards solving the puzzle of hearing loss. The number of people affected by hearing loss is staggering, with nearly 50 million people here in the United States and roughly 466 million worldwide experiencing some degree of hearing loss. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization expects this number to climb to nearly 900 million by the year 2050 due to an aging population. While hearing loss is routinely thought of as a problem affecting the elderly, there are

The Future of Glaucoma Treatment

National Institutes of Health Glaucoma Simulation

Researchers in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine continue to make strides in the treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, the vital nerve that transfers visual information from the retina to the vision centers in the brain. This loss of optic nerve tissue, also known as “cupping,” is most commonly caused by an increased eye pressure when the clear fluid in the eye, called the aqueous humor, does not drain properly. A leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60, glaucoma affects more than 3