Janet R. Sparrow

Columbia University, USA

Research in the laboratory of Professor Janet Sparrow is directed toward understanding the composition of the visual cycle adducts (bisretinoids) that constitute the lipofuscin of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE); the structures, spectral characteristics and photoreactive properties of these bisretinoid fluorophores; the mechanisms by which they form, undergo photodegradation and exert adverse effects on photoreceptor cells and RPE. We also explore therapies (gene therapy and small molecules) aimed at reducing bisretinoid accumulation.  Our studies have contributed to the clinical interpretation of fundus autofluorescence images and to the development of an approach to quantifying fundus autofluorescence (qAF) intensities in both humans and mice. We have also elucidated previously unrecognized phenotypes. Our work impacts several retinal disorders including retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, both inherited and age-related forms.