Kip Connor, PhD, (previously at) Harvard Medical School, where he was Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
AMD is a retinal degenerative disease defined by a spike in immune activity in the ocular microenvironment. An intricate immune surveillance system exists within the retina that can interact with the retinal cellular milieu both during development and in response to injury or disease. While activation of this surveillance system can help protect and repair the delicate neural tissue of the retina in certain disease states, over-activation of this system can exacerbate disease pathology, thereby worsening vision loss.
The Connor laboratory’s research focused on the role of immunity and inflammation in AMD and the early involvement of microglia, the resident immune cells of the retina, during disease progression. Interestingly, activation of microglia can become dysregulated in certain contexts, suggesting that microglia may be an important therapeutic target for AMD.
Dr. Connor used his AMDF Prevention Award to pursue two objectives: Identify the regulatory mechanisms that direct microglial activation in response to disease; and investigate and target microglial and microglial pathways to restore homeostatic molecular and functional signatures in retinal pathologies.