Eric Romanowski, MS

  • Research Instructor of Ophthalmology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As Research Director of the Charles T. Campbell Ophthalmic Microbiology Laboratory, I am involved with a number of research projects that involve viral, bacterial, and fungal infections of the eye. The major focus of my research has been investigating adenovirus eye infections. These infections are commonly referred to as viral “pink eye” for which there is no FDA approved antiviral treatment to reduce patient suffering and prevent vision altering corneal infiltrates. My research includes the in vitro evaluation of antivirals against adenovirus and the development of a reliable animal model for adenoviral ocular infections which can be used to test and develop antiviral treatments as well as to evaluate effects of topical corticosteroid use in these infections.

In addition to my work on antiviral testing and development, I have performed a number of studies evaluating the pathogenesis of ocular bacterial infections and the use of topical antibiotics for the treatment and prevention of ocular bacterial infections in vitro and in animal models. These studies provided the ophthalmic community with important information regarding bacterial eye infections and the efficacy and potential new indications for use of new and existing topical and intraocular antibiotics as well as new delivery systems for those antibiotics.

Currently, I am collaborating with several pharmaceutical and biotech companies on new treatments for viral and bacterial eye infections. I am also collaborating with Dr. Robert Shanks with his research on bacterial eye infections. Pending research grants include collaborations with researchers from Harvard on an antibiotic/steroid eluting contact lens for use in a battlefield situation, NYU on waste in cataract surgery, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Industrial Engineering on the development and testing of contact lenses that repel bacteria thus reducing the potential of contact lens related eye infections.

Academic Affiliation

2020 – Present                  Research Instructor of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

2010 – Present                 Research Director of the Charles T. Campbell Ophthalmic Microbiology Laboratory, UPMC Eye Center, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

1997 – 2010                        Associate Research Director of the Charles T. Campbell Ophthalmic Microbiology Laboratory, UPMC Eye Center, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Journal Editorial Board Memberships

BMC Ophthalmology


Education & Training

  • 1977 – 1981 Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, BS Biology
  • 1981 – 1983 Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, MS Microbiology

Representative Publications

Romanowski EG, Stella NA, Yates  KA, Romanowski JE, Dhaliwal DK, Shanks RMQ. Activation of the Rcs stress response system reduces inflammation and proliferation in Serratia marcescens mediated keratitis. Infect Immun. 2021 Apr 5:IAI.00111-21. PMID: 33820815

Romanowski JE, Nayyar SV, Romanowski EG, Jhanji V, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP. Speciation and antibiotic susceptibilities of coagulase negative staphylococci isolated from ocular infections. Antibiotics. 2021;10:721.

Romanowski EG, Yates  KA, Paull JRA, Heery GP, Shanks RMQ. Topical astodrimer sodium, a non-toxic polyanionic dendrimer, demonstrates antiviral activity in an experimental ocular adenovirus infection model. Molecules. 2021;26:3419.

Romanowski EG, Hussein ITM, Cardinale SC, Butler MM, Morin LR, Bowlin TL, Yates  KA, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP. Filociclovir is an active antiviral agent against ocular adenovirus isolates in vitro and in the Ad5/NZW rabbit ocular model. Pharmaceuticals. 2021;15:294. PMID: 33810229

Kowalski RP, Nayyar SV, Romanowski EG, Shanks RMQ, Mammen A, Dhaliwal DK, Jhanji V. The prevalence of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and Acanthamoeba from 3,004 cases of keratitis, endophthalmitis, and conjunctivitis. Eye Contact Lens. 2020;46:265-268. PMID: 31373904

Galante AJ, Haghanifar S, Romanowski EG, Shanks RMQ, Leu PW. Superhemophobic and anti-virofouling coating for mechanically durable and wash-stable medical textiles. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2020;12(19):22120–22128. PMID: 32320200

Romanowski EG, Romanowski JE, Shanks RMQ, Yates  KA, Mammen A, Dhaliwal DK, Jhanji V, Kowalski RP. Topical vancomycin 5% is more efficacious than 2.5% and 1.25% for reducing viable MRSA in infectious keratitis. Cornea. 2020;39:250-253. PMID: 31658169

Romanowski EG, Yates  KA, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP.  Benzalkonium chloride demonstrates concentration dependent antiviral activity against adenovirus in vitro. J Oc Pharm Ther. 2019;35(5):311-314. PMID: 30969148

Yates  KA, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP, Romanowski EG. The in vitro evaluation of povidone-iodine against multiple ocular adenoviral types. J Oc Pharm Ther. 2019;35(2):132-136. PMID: 30589605

Dhaliwal DK, Jhanji V, Kowalski RP, Mammen A, Romanowski EG, Shanks RMQ. Endophthalmitis after intravitreal triamcinolone-moxifloxacin. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2019;45(5):705-706. PMID: 31030793

Romanowski EG, Lehner KM, Martin NC, Patel KR, Callaghan JD, Stella NA, Shanks RM. Thermoregulation of prodigiosin biosynthesis by Serratia marcescens controlled at the transcriptional level and requires HexS. Pol J Microbiol. 2019;68(1):43-50. PMID: 31050252

Romanowski EG, Stella NA, Yates  KA, Brothers KM, Kowalski RP, Shanks RMQ. In vitro evaluation of a hypochlorous acid hygiene solution on established biofilms.  Eye Contact Lens. 2018;44:S187-S191. PMID: 29369234

Romanowski EG, Stella NA, Brothers KM, Yates KA, Funderburgh ML, Funderburgh JL, Gupta S, Dharani S, Kadouri DE, Shanks RMQ. Predatory bacteria are nontoxic to the rabbit ocular surface. Sci Rep. 2016;6:30987. PMID: 27527833

Romanowski EG, Kowalski TA, O’Connor KE, Yates KA, Mah FS, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP. The in vitro evaluation of tigecycline and the in vivo evaluation of RPX-978 (0.5% tigecycline) as an ocular antibiotic. J Oc Pharm Ther. 2016;32(2):119-126. PMID: 26545167

Romanowski EG. Is there an anti-adenoviral drug on the horizon? Expert Rev. Ophthalmol. 2013;8(5):427–435. DOI: 10.1586/17469899.2013.831325.

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, O’Connor KE, Mah FS, Shanks RMQ, Kowalski RP. The evaluation of polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) as a disinfectant for adenovirus. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131:495-498. PMID: 23450376

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. The in vitro and in vivo evaluation of ddC as a topical antiviral for ocular adenovirus infections. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009;50:5295-5299. PMID: 19516011

Romanowski EG, Gordon YJ. Update on antiviral treatment for adenoviral ocular infections. Am J Ophthalmol. 2008;146:635-367. PMID: 18984083

Romanowski EG, Mah FS, Kowalski RP, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. Benzalkonium chloride enhances the antibacterial efficacy of gatifloxacin in an experimental rabbit model of intrastromal keratitis. J Oc Pharm Ther. 2008;24:380-384. PMID: 18665809

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, Teuchner B, Nagl M, Irschick EU, Gordon YJ. N–Chlorotaurine is an effective antiviral agent against adenovirus in vitro and in the Ad5/NZW rabbit ocular model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006;47:2021-2026. PMID: 16639011

Romanowski EG, Pless P, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. Topical cyclosporine A inhibits subepithelial immune infiltrates but also promotes viral shedding in experimental adenovirus models. Cornea. 2005;24:86-91. PMID: 15604872

Romanowski EG, Mah FS, Yates KA, Kowalski RP, Gordon YJ. The successful treatment of gatifloxacin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus keratitis with Zymar® (Gatifloxacin 0.3%) in a NZW Rabbit Model. Am J Ophthalmol. 2005;139:867-877. PMID: 15860293

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. Topical corticosteroids of limited potency promote adenovirus replication in the Ad5/NZW rabbit ocular model. Cornea. 2002;21:289-291. PMID: 11917178

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. Antiviral prophylaxis with twice daily topical cidofovir protects against challenge in the adenovirus type 5/New Zealand rabbit ocular model. Antiviral Res. 2001;52:275-280. PMID: 11675144

Romanowski EG, Yates KA, Gordon YJ. Short term treatment with a potent topical corticosteroid of an acute ocular adenoviral infection in the New Zealand white rabbit. Cornea. 2001;20:657-660. PMID: 11473171

Romanowski EG, Gordon YJ, Araullo-Cruz T, Yates KA, Kinchington PR. The antiviral resistance and replication of cidofovir-resistant adenovirus variants in the New Zealand white rabbit ocular model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2001;42:1812-1815. PMID: 11431446

Romanowski EG, Gordon YJ. Effects of topical diclofenac or ketorolac on the inhibitory activity of cidofovir in the Ad5/NZW rabbit model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2001;42:158-162. PMID: 11133861

Romanowski EG, Gordon YJ. Efficacy of topical cidofovir on multiple adenoviral serotypes in the New Zealand rabbit ocular model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2000;41:460-463. PMID: 10670476

Romanowski EG, Bartels SP, Gordon YJ. Comparative antiviral efficacies of cidofovir, trifluridine, and acyclovir in the HSV-1 rabbit keratitis model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1999;40:378-384. PMID: 9950596

Romanowski EG, Araullo-Cruz T, Gordon YJ. Multiple adenoviral serotypes demonstrate host range extension in the New Zealand rabbit ocular model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1998;39:532-536. PMID: 9501863

Romanowski EG, Araullo-Cruz T, Gordon YJ. Topical corticosteroids reverse the antiviral effect of topical cidofovir in the Ad5-inoculated New Zealand rabbit ocular model. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1997;38:253-257. PMID: 9019458

Romanowski EG, Roba LA, Wiley LA, Araullo-Cruz T, Gordon YJ. The effects of corticosteroids on adenoviral replication. Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114:581-585. PMID: 8619769

Gordon YJ, Romanowski EG, Araullo-Cruz T.  An ocular model of adenovirus type 5 infection in the NZ rabbit. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1992;33:574-580. PMID: 1312070

Gordon YJ, Romanowski EG, Araullo-Cruz T, Seaberg L, Erzurum S, Tolman R, De Clercq E. Inhibitory effect of (S)-HPMPC, (S)-HPMPA, and 2'-nor-Cyclic GMP on different ocular adenoviral serotypes in vitro. Antiviral Res. 1991;16:11-16. PMID: 1776874

Gordon YJ, Johnson B, Romanowski EG, Araullo-Cruz T.  RNA complimentary to HSV-1 ICP-0 gene demonstrated in neurons of human trigeminal ganglia. J. Virology. 1988;62:1832-1835. PMID: 2451758

Research Interests

Antiviral treatments of adenovirus eye infections

New treatments for bacterial eye infections

Development of a new animal model of fungal eye infections

Charles T Campbell Microbiology Laboratory

Research Grants

NSF SBIR (1938499) Subcontract from AnkyrBio                  Romanowski (PI)
A Universal Drug Delivery System for Wet Epithelia

Stowe Pharmaceuticals                                 Romanowski (PI)
The Evaluation of STE-006 and MV-4

Asepticys, Inc.                                                    Romanowski (PI)
The Evaluation of the Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antiviral Activity of an Asepticys Biocide

Okogen LLC.                                                       Romanowski (PI)
The Evaluation of an Okogen Antiviral

Microbiotix, Inc.                                               Romanowski (PI)
The Evaluation of MBX-400 against Adenovirus

Oyster Point Pharma                                      Romanowski (PI)
The Determination of Bacteriophage Susceptibility against Bacterial Blepharitis Isolates

R01 EY032517                                                     Shanks (PI)                          Romanowski (Co-Investigator)
Rise of lasR mutant Pseudomonas aeruginosa keratitis

R01 EY027331-04S1                                          Shanks (PI)                          Romanowski (Co-Investigator)
Use of anchored biologics to treat vesicant induced neovascularization


Pending Research Grants

Alcon Laboratories                                          Romanowski (PI)
The Evaluation of Topical Povidone-Iodine Formulations in NZW Rabbit Ocular Models                   

Department of Defense VR200112            Ciolino (PI) (Harvard)                      Romanowski (Co-Investigator)
A Dual Antibiotic-Steroid Drug-Eluting Contact Lens for Treatment of Eye Injuries That Can be used in an Austere Environment or Prolonged Field Care Setting.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center     Shanks (PI)                          Romanowski (Co-Investigator)
Determination of the Minimum Dose of Fungus to Induce Keratitis