Robin Ali, PhD, FMedSci
Dr. Ali’s research on stem cells focuses on establishing photoreceptor transplantation as a strategy for restoring vision in patients who have lost these cells due to retinal disease. These can include patients with inherited retinal dystrophies as well as those with age-related macular degeneration. Photoreceptors are the light-sensing neurons in the eye, and there are many challenges to developing a successful transplantation strategy, including isolating enough cells for transplantation, ensuring the cells migrate to the correct location in the retina, ensuring that they establish the proper connections with neighboring neurons, and long-term cell survival. Over the past decade Dr. Ali’s lab has made significant contributions toward establishing effective techniques for photoreceptor transplantation, showing that photoreceptor transplantation can restore vision in a degenerated mouse retina, optimizing methods for deriving and isolating photoreceptors from stem cell cultures, and determining the mechanisms by which transplanted photoreceptors restore vision. His current work is focused on continuing to establish the potential of photoreceptors derived from stem cells for transplantation and vision restoration, with the ultimate goal of developing a cellular therapy that can be tested in clinical trials.