Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Biomedical Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, xiv, 371 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sally Temple

Committee Members

Douglas S Conklin, Valerie J Bolivar, Anne Messer, Jeffrey H Stern


Age-related Macular Degeneration, Disease Modeling, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell, Retina, Retinal Pigment Epithelium, Stem Cell, Epithelium, Stem cells, Retinal degeneration

Subject Categories

Molecular Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


The eye is an intricate organ, possessing sensory receptors in the retina that are involved in visual perception. The retina consists primarily of the neural layer, referred to as the neural retina, and the pigmented layer, referred to as the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The neural retina and RPE develop and mature in a coordinated manner, and depend on each other for survival. In a mature healthy retina, the retinal photoreceptor outer segments interdigitate with the RPE monolayer, and they co-exchange key supportive factors. RPE cells are indispensable for the health of the retina as they are involved in a wide array of activities, including light absorption, nourishment, visual pigment recycling, cytokine release, phagocytosis of photoreceptor outer segments and the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. Physiologically, RPE cells are terminally differentiated cells with limited proliferative ability. Dysfunction or degeneration of the RPE occurring due to intrinsic aging processes, environmental insults or genetics, can impair their supportive functions and be devastating for the retina, eventually resulting in vision loss. A large number of retinal dystrophies such as retinitis pigmentosa, rod-cone dystrophy, vitelliform dystrophy, stargardt disease, proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) involve dysfunctional RPE. In this dissertation, I focused on AMD as well as epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and calcification associated with several retinal pathologies including PVR, phthisical eye, AMD, and intraocular osseous metaplasia.