Yiqin Du, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Associate Professor of Developmental Biology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

A Conversation With Dr. Du


My current and future research interests are stem cell biology and ocular regeneration. We work on different human stem cell types and utilize the mouse and rabbit as in vivo model systems for our studies. My laboratory focuses on (1) investigating the roles and mechanisms of exogenous stem cells and stem cell secretome in regeneration of the trabecular meshwork to reduce intraocular pressure, preserve the retinal ganglion cells, and prevent glaucomatous vision loss; (2) exploring the potential of using stem cells and stem cell secretome to treat corneal disease, restore the corneal transparency, and preserve the vision; (3) establishing disease models using cultured 3-dimentional organoids to model corneal disease and glaucoma which can be used for studying vision regeneration and discovering novel treatment options.

Academic Affiliation

1992-1997 Attending Ophthalmologist Department of Ophthalmology, Xuzhou Third Hospital, Xuzhou, China 

2001-2003 Associate Professor Department of Ophthalmology, Xuzhou Third Hospital, Xuzhou, China ; Post-doctoral fellow, Beijing University, Beijing, China.

2008-2013 Research Assistant Professor, Departments of Ophthalmology & Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA USA

2013-2016 Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA USA

2016-present Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA USA

Education & Training

  • Xuzhou Medical College, Jiangsu Province, China, Clinical Medicine, M.D.
  • Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China, Ophthalmology, Ph.D.
  • Peking University Stem Cell Center, Beijing, China, Postdoc Fellow
  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Research Associate

Representative Publications

  1. Yiqin Du, Martha L Funderburgh, Mary M Mann, Nirmala SundarRaj, James L Funderburgh. Multipotent Stem Cells in Human Corneal Stroma. Stem Cells. 2005; 23: 1266-1275. PMID: 16059757.
  2. Yanling Ma, Yongsheng Xu, Zhifeng Xiao, Wei Yang, Chun Zhang, E Song, Yiqin Du, Lingsong Li. Reconstruction of chemically burned rat corneal surface by bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cells. 2006; 24: 315 - 321. PMID: 16109757.
  3. Yiqin Du, Eric Carlson, Martha L. Funderburgh, Naxin Guo, David E. Birk, Winston W. Kao, James L. Funderburgh. Stem Cell Therapy Restores Transparency to Defective Murine Corneas. Stem Cells. 2009, 27 (7): 1635-1642. PMID: 19544455.
  4. Yiqin Du, Danny Roh, Martha Funderburgh, Mary Mann, Kacey Marra, Peter Rubin, Xuan Li, James Funderburgh. Adipose-Derived Stem Cells Differentiate to Keratocytes in vitro. Mol. Vis. 2010; 16:2680-2689. PMID: 21179234.
  5. Yiqin Du*, Danny S. Roh, Mary M. Mann, Martha L. Funderburgh, James L. Funderburgh, Joel S. Schuman. Multiple stem cells from trabecular meshwork become phagocytic TM cells. (*: Corresponding author). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012; 53 (3): 1566-1575. PMID: 22297497.
  6. Craig Boote*, Yiqin Du*, Sian R. Morgan , Jonathan Harris , Christina S. Kamma-Lorger , Sally Hayes , Kira L. Lathrop, Danny S. Roh, Michael K. Burrow, Jennifer Hiller , Nicholas J. Terrill , James L. Funderburgh, Keith M. Meek. Quantitative Assessment of Ultrastructure and Light Scatter in Mouse Corneal Debridement Wounds. (*Co-first author). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012; 53 (6): 2786-2795. PMID: 22467580.
  7. Yiqin Du*, Hongmin Yun, Enzhi Yang, Joel S. Schuman. Stem cells from trabecular meshwork can home to the TM region in vivo. (*: Corresponding author). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013; 54 (2): 1450-1459. PMID: 23341019.
  8. Sayan Basu, Andrew J. Hertsenberg, Martha L. Funderburgh, Michael K. Burrow, Mary M. Mann, Yiqin Du, Kira L. Lathrop, Fatima N. Syed-Picard, Sheila M. Adams, David E. Birk, James L. Funderburgh. Human limbal biopsy–derived stromal stem cells prevent corneal scarring. Sci. Transl. Med. 2014; 6: 266ra172.
  9. Hongmin Yun, Kira L. Lathrop, Enzhi Yang, Ming Sun, Larry Kagemann, Valeria Fu, Donna B. Stolz, Joel S. Schuman, Yiqin Du. A Laser-Induced Mouse Model with Long-Term Intraocular Pressure Elevation. Plos One. 2014; 9(9): e107446. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107446. PMID: 25216052.
  10. Ajay Kumar, Yi Xu, Enzhi Yang, Yiqin Du. Stemness and Regenerative Potential of Corneal Stromal Stem Cells and Secretome after Long Term Storage-Potential Implications for Ocular Regeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018, 59: 3728-38. PMID: 30046814.
  11. Hongmin Yun, Yiwen Wang, Yi Zhou, Ke Wang, Ming Sun, Donna B. Stolz, Xiaobo Xia, C. Ross Ethier, Yiqin Du. Human stem cells home to and repair laser-damaged trabecular meshwork in a mouse model. Communications Biology, (2018) 1:216 | DOI: 10.1038/s42003-018-0227-z. eCollection 2018. PMID: 30534608.
  12. Yiwen Wang, Deborah Osakue, Enzhi Yang, Yi Zhou, Haiyan Gong, Xiaobo Xia, Yiqin Du*. ER Stress Response of Trabecular Meshwork Stem Cells and TM Cells and Protective Effects of Activated PERK Pathway. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.  2019, 60(1): 265-73. PMID: 30654386.
  13. Ajay Kumar, Yi Xu, Enzhi Yang, Yiwen Wang, Yiqin Du. Fidelity of long-term cryopreserved adipose-derived stem cells for differentiation into cells of ocular and other lineages. Exp Eye Res. 2019 Dec;189:107860. PMID:31655040
  14. Siqi Xiong, Yi Xu, Yiwen Wang, Ajay Kumar, Donna M Peters, Yiqin Du. α5β1 Integrin Promotes Anchoring and Integration of Transplanted Stem Cells to the Trabecular Meshwork in the Eye for Regeneration. Stem Cells Dev. 2020 Mar 1;29(5):290-300. PMID:31854234
  15. Yi Zhou,Xiaobo Xia, Enzhi Yang, Yiwen Wang, Kacey G Marra, C Ross Ethier, Joel S Schuman, Yiqin Du. Adipose-derived stem cells integrate into trabecular meshwork with glaucoma treatment potential. FASEB J. 2020 May;34(5):7160-7177. PMID:32259357

Research Interest Summary

Stem Cell Biology & Glaucoma

Research Interests

The research in the lab focuses on Stem Cell Biology and Ocular Regeneration. In particular, our research focuses on the following projects:

  • Trabecular meshwork regeneration to prevent glaucomatous vision loss.  We have been making progress and confirming that stem cells are able to home to the trabecular meshwork region for the tissue regeneration which can control intraocular pressure. We are exploring the mechanisms of stem cell homing and regeneration using different cell types including adult stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We are also discovering the feasibility of stem cell-free therapy for glaucoma using secretome derived from stem cells.
  • Retinal ganglion cell regeneration to reverse glaucomatous vision loss. We are working on inducing retinal ganglion cell differentiation and 3-dimensional retinal organoids from iPSCs and ESCs and to protect RGC damage using stem cell-derived secretome.
  • Corneal endothelium regeneration using different stem cell types and exploring key factors for controlling cell fate.