Debasish Sinha, PhD

  • Jennifer Salvitti Davis, M.D. Chair in Ophthalmology Research
  • Professor of Ophthalmology, Cell Biology and Developmental Biology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Adjunct Faculty, Ophthalmology, The John's Hopkins University School of Medicine

A Conversation With Dr. Sinha


Dr. Debasish Sinha is the Jennifer Salvitti Davis, M.D. Chair in Ophthalmology Research and Professor of Ophthalmology, Cell Biology and Developmental Biology. He is also an adjunct faculty, Ophthalmology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His major research focus is to understand the mechanisms that regulate lysosome/autophagy degenerative process in retinal pigmented-epithelial cells that contribute to the early stages of age-related macular degeneration.

Representative Publications

  1. Zigler JS Jr. et al. Mutation in the betaA3/A1-crystallin gene impairs phagosome degradation in the retinal pigmented epithelium of the rat. Journal of Cell Science (2011), 124: 523-531. PMID: 21266465.
  2. Valapala M et al. Impaired endolysosomal function disrupts Notch signaling in optic nerve astrocytes. Nature Communications (2013), 4: 1629. PMID: 23535650.
  3. Valapala M et al. Lysosomal-mediated waste clearance in retinal pigmented epithelial cells is regulated by CRYBA1/betaA3/A1-crystallin via V-ATPase-MTORC1 signaling. Autophagy (2014), 10(3): 480-496. PMID: 24468901.
  4. Valapala M et al.  Increased Lipocalin-2 in the retinal pigment epithelium of Cryba1 cKO mice is associated with a chronic inflammatory response. Aging Cell (2014), 13(6): 1091-4. PMID: 25257511.
  5. Shang P et al. The amino acid transporter SLC36A4 regulates the amino acid pool in retinal pigmented epithelial cells and mediates the mechanistic target of rapamycin, complex 1 signaling. Aging Cell (2017), 16 (2): 349-359. PMID: 28083894.
  6. Ghosh S et al. Activating the AKT2-nuclear factor-kappaB-lipocalin-2 axis elicits an inflammatory response in age-related macular degeneration. The Journal of Pathology (2017), 241(5): 583-588. PMID: 28026019.
  7. Ghosh S et al.  A Role for betaA3/A1-Crystallin in Type 2 EMT of RPE Cells Occurring in Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (2018), 59(4): AMD104-AMD113. PMID: 30098172.
  8. Wang J et al. ATAC-Seq analysis reveals a widespread decrease of chromatin accessibility in age-related macular degeneration. Nature Communications (2018), 9(1): 1364. PMID: 29636475.
  9. Ghosh S et al.  Neutrophils homing into the retina trigger pathology in early age-related macular degeneration. Communications Biology (2019), 2: 348. PMID: 31552301.
  10. Yazdankhah M et al. Modulating EGFR/MTORC1/Autophagy as a potential therapy for Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV) disease. Autophagy (2020), 16(6): 1130-1142. PMID: 31462148.
  11. Ghosh S et al. betaA1-crystallin regulates glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function in mouse retinal astrocytes by modulating PTP1B activity.  Communications Biology (2021), 4(1): 248. PMID: 33627831.
  12. Shang P et al. betaA3/A1-crystallin regulates apical polarity and EGFR endocytosis in retinal pigmented epithelial cells. Communications Biology (2021), 4(1): 850. PMID: 34239035.
  13. Yazdankhah M et al. Role of glia in optic nerve. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research (2021), 81: 100886. PMID: 32771538.
  14. Yazdankhah M et al. BNIP3L-mediated mitophagy is required for mitochondrial remodeling during the differentiation of optic nerve oligodendrocytes. Autophagy (2021), 17(10): 3140-3159. PMID: 33404293.
  15. Gupta U et al. Increased LCN2 (lipocalin 2) in the RPE decreases autophagy and activates inflammasome-ferroptosis processes in a mouse model of dry AMD. Autophagy (2022), In Press.

Research Interest Summary


Research Interests

Our laboratory, GLIA Research Laboratory, is interested in understanding the role of glia and glia-like cells (retinal pigmented epithelium) in ocular health and disease.  We use genetically engineered mouse and spontaneous mutant rat models as tools to decipher functions of these cells in health and disease.  The diseases we focus on are (1) Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) (2) Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and (3) Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV).


Olivia Chowdhury, Academic Health Sciences Research Fellow

Rachel Daley, BS, Research Technician

Sayan Ghosh, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Stacey Hose, BA, Laboratory Manager

Victoria Koontz, BS, Research Technician

Haitao Liu, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Peng Shang, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Nadezda Stepicheva, PhD, Senior Research Scientist

Anastasia Strizhakova, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Undergraduate Assistants: Vishnu Maddipatla, Emma Mahally, and Mihir Nemani

Research Grants

  • F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd, Switzerland
  • Astellas Pharma, Inc., Japan
  • National Eye Institute, NIH
  • UPMC Enterprises
  • Wiegand Entrepreneurial Research Award
  • Department of Ophthalmology, UPMC, start-up funds