Kelsey Anderson, Waisman Center Communications
June is Vision Research Awareness Month and the Waisman Center is home to a comprehensive vision research program led by David Gamm, MD, PhD. Gamm, a Waisman Center investigator, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, studies human retinal development and potential therapies for retinal degenerative diseases.
Using stem cells, including patient-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, Gamm’s lab investigates events involved in normal retinal development and retinal degeneration, with the goal of treating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Best disease and Usher syndrome.
Gamm uses induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to create retinal cell lines in the early stages of development. iPS cells are blood or skin cells that are genetically reprogrammed. His lab generates cells for retinal disease modeling and cell-based rescue or replacement strategies. He utilizes a variety of cell types which can mimic retinal development and disease and define the genetic “checkpoints” necessary to produce specific retinal cell types.
By understanding the behavior of these cell types, Gamm hopes to optimize strategies to delay or reverse the effects of blinding disorders.
“I continue to be amazed at how far the field of retinal stem cell biology has come in such a short time,” says Gamm. “Our own promising results and progress is a direct result of the close collaborations and excellent resources here at the Waisman Center and across the UW-Madison campus.”