About Our Research

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Research Center

Jeffrey M. Gross, Director

The Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Research Center (OVSRC) is the research arm of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh. The OVSRC is comprised of scientists representing distinct basic science and clinical disciplines who are engaged in research with the common goal of understanding the visual system and the diseases that compromise its function. These scientists work side by side with departmental Ophthalmologists who are conducting clinical trials. The mission of the OVSRC is to (1) apply state-of-the-art basic science to the advancement of vision research; (2) use of ocular models of normal and diseased states to elucidate basic scientific concepts; and (3) train the next generation of scientists and physicians through involvement in mentoring of graduate and medical students and residents.

Principal Investigators

Issam Al Diri, PhD - Retinal Epigenetics and Genomics Laboratory

Ryad Benosman, PhD - Neuromorphic Computation and Applications Lab

Leah Byrne, PhD - Gene Therapy for Retinal Disease Laboratory 

Kun-Che Chang, PhD - Stem Cell and Neuroregeneration Laboratory

Yuanyuan Chen, PhD -Systems Pharmacology Lab of Retinal Degeneration

Susana da Silva - Fovea Development Laboratory

Morgan DiLeo, PhD - Ophthalmic Biomaterials Lab

Yiqin Du, MD, PhD - Stem Cell Biology & Glaucoma Laboratory

Jeffrey M. Gross, PhD - Charles & Louella Snyder Ocular Development, Disease and Regeneration Laboratory

Paul Kinchington, PhD - Infectious Eye Diseases Laboratory

Regis Kowalski, MS, M(ASCP) - Charles T Campbell Microbiology Laboratory

Kira Lathrop - Biomedical Visualization Laboratory

J Patrick Mayo, PhD - Visual-Motor Neuroscience Laboratory

Ken Nischal, MD - Ocular Pediatrics Laboratory

Ethan Rossi, PhD - Advanced Ophthalmic Imaging Laboratory

Robert Shanks, PhD - Charles T Campbell Microbiology Laboratory

Ian Sigal, PhD - Ocular Biomechanics Laboratory

Debasish Sinha, PhD – Glia Research Laboratory

Anthony St. Leger, PhD - Ocular Microbiome and Immunology Laboratory

Shiva Swamynathan, PhD - Ocular Surface Development Laboratory

Xiangyun Wei, PhD - Retinal Development Laboratory

Gary Yam, PhD - Corneal Regeneration Laboratory

Research Administration

Mary Quinn, Director, Research Administration

Marsey Mauer, Post-Award Administrator

Lori Solenday, Pre-Award Administrator

Hsin Chen, Grants Assistant

Jessica Thomas, Administrative Manager

Scientific Disciplines represented within the OVSRC:

  • Cell Biology
  • Cell Signaling
  • Developmental Biology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Ocular Imaging
  • Virology

Research Support

The research efforts of the OVSRC scientists are supported by Federal, State, and private sources. Nationally, we rank 8th among Ophthalmology departments in funding from the National Eye Institute. Our research is also supported by the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, by grants from industry, and by the generous support of private donors (for information please contact our Development Officer at The Eye & Ear Institute, 203 Lothrop Street, Suite 251, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 412-383-8756).


Our investigators provide integrated training to numerous undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students within a collaborative and interdisciplinary training environment. Each Ophthalmology Resident is required to complete a research project prior to graduating, and a second year elective provides dedicated time for research. To enhance integration of our clinical and basic research training, our graduate students, postodoctoral fellows and residents meet twice a year to discuss research interests. Out of these meetings a "buddy system" develops, pairing a resident with a graduate student or basic science postdoctoral fellow who interact frequently to discuss research projects, enhance collaboration and optimize the training potential of both participants. Interested graduate and medical student candidates are encouraged to review individual laboratory sites for description of training opportunities.

Core Grant for Vision Research

The OVSRC is one of 34 vision research groups in the United States who have successfully competed for a Core grant from the National Eye Institute. Our core grant has been continuously funded since 1985. The grant is designed to provide ancillary support for the research efforts of vision scientists.

Our core grant provides support for researchers in the OVSRC by funding the following core facilities:

Scholars in Vision Science Seminar Series

The Scholars in Vision Science seminar series was created to 1) expose our clinicians and scientists to cutting edge clinical and basic science vision reserch by bringing to Pittsburgh the most accomplished vision scientists from arond the world; 2) showcase the research accomplishments of our ophthalmology trainees; 3) foster a dialogue between our clinical and basic science faculty and trainees. To accomplish these goals, world class researchers are invited on a bimonthly basis to share their research findings in a seminar that is preceded by brief introductory presentations by a resident/graduate student or postdoctoral fellow team, and followed by a dinner where faculty and trainees can exchange thoughts and develop collaborative interactions.

Check out our partnered programs:

Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh