Yiqin Du, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Associate Professor of Developmental Biology
  • • Faculty of Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology (CBMP) Graduate Program
  • Faculty of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • 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, Peking 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. Du Y, Funderburgh ML, Mann MM, SundarRaj N, Funderburgh JL. Multipotent Stem Cells in Human Corneal Stroma. Stem Cells. 2005; 23: 1266-1275. PMID: 16059757.
  2. Du Y, Carlson E, Funderburgh ML, Guo N, Birk DE, Kao WW, Funderburgh JL. Stem Cell Therapy Restores Transparency to Defective Murine Corneas. Stem Cells. 2009, 27 (7): 1635-1642. PMID: 19544455.
  3. Du Y*, Roh DS, Mann MM, Funderburgh ML, Funderburgh JL, Schuman JS. Multiple stem cells from trabecular meshwork become phagocytic TM cells. (*: Corresponding author). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012; 53 (3): 1566-1575. PMID: 22297497.
  4. Du Y*, Yun H, Yang E, Schuman JS. 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.
  5. Yun H, Wang Y, Zhou Y, Wang K, Sun M, Stolz DB, Xia X, Ethier CR, Du Y*. Human stem cells home to and repair laser-damaged trabecular meshwork in a mouse model. Communications Biology, (2018) 1:216 PMID: 30534608.
  6. Zhou Y, Xia X, Yang E, Wang Y, Marra KG, Ethier CR, Schuman JS, Du Y*. Adipose-derived stem cells integrate into trabecular meshwork with glaucoma
  7. Kumar A, Cheng T, Song W, Cheuk B, Yang E, Yang L, Xie Y, Du Y*. Two-step induction of trabecular meshwork cells from induced pluripotent stem cells for glaucoma. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020, 529(2): 411-17. PMID: 32703444.
  8. Tian Y, Zhang Z, Torrejon K, Danias J, Du Y*, Xie Y*. A Biomimetic, Stem Cell-Derived In Vitro Ocular Outflow Model. Adv Biosyst. 2020, 4(9): e2000004. PMID: 32734694.
  9. Xiong S, Kumar A, Tian S, Taher EE, Yang E, Kinchington PR, Xia X, Du Y*.  Stem Cell Transplantation Rescued A Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Mouse Model. eLife. 2021, 10: e63677. PMID: 33506763.
  10. Ajay Kumar, Hongmin Yun, Martha Funderburgh, Du Y*. Regenerative Therapy for Corneal Disease. Invited review. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2022, 87:101011. PMID: 34530154.

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 different 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 secretomes and exosomes derived from stem cells.
  • Corneal regeneration using stem cells and stem cell derived trophic factors. We have been working together with our collaborators to bioengineer the corneal stroma and corneal endothelium for corneal blindness treatment.
  • 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 trophic factors

Research Grants

National Eye Institute (R01 EY025643): 09/01/2015-03/31/2027. Mechanisms of Trabecular Meshwork Regeneration by Stem Cells. PI-Du

National Eye Institute (R01 EY024642): 05/01/2016-03/31/2027. Bioengineering Cornea with Autologous Stem Cells. Multi PI-Feinberg, Du

Department of Defense (W81XWH1910778): 09/15/2019-09/14/2022. Early Intervention Stem Cell-Based Therapy (EISCBT) for Corneal Burns and Trauma. PI-Du