Department of Ophthalmology Ranks #5 with Four Research Faculty among Top 100 Principal Investigators
By: Eric Weintraub
This year, the USC Department of Ophthalmology ranked #5 in NIH research funding among all ophthalmology departments, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Within this list, four of our faculty members were listed among the Top 100 funded principal investigators.
“This highlights the strength of research in the department,” said J. Martin Heur, MD, PhD, professor of clinical ophthalmology, interim chair of ophthalmology and Charles Manger III, MD Chair in Corneal Laser Eye Surgery. “I would like to thank everyone in the department for their efforts.”
Meet our researchers and learn more about their work in the mission to improve healthcare outcomes and end blindness.
Dr. Thompson is a leading expert in imaging genetics, the study of how individual genetic differences lead to differences in brain wiring, structure, and intellectual function. He has led the ENIGMA Consortium since 2009 and his NIH funding is supporting work in 47 countries worldwide. Other research pursuits include developing new computational algorithms for neuroimaging, dynamic (4D) brain mapping, creation of a probabilistic atlas of the human brain and cortex, and creation of population-based atlases for Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders.
Dr. Toga is one of the world’s leading authorities on neuroimaging, informatics, artificial intelligence applications in neuroscience, mapping brain structure and function, and brain atlasing. Dr. Toga’s research focus is on neurodegenerative disease, with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. His interdisciplinary work led to the creation of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI), which he also directs. LONI is one of the most advanced multidisciplinary neurological research centers in the world, serving numerous multisite neuroscience projects globally.
Mahnaz Shahidi, PhD – #40
Dr. Shahidi’s research program is focused on the development and application of novel optical imaging technologies to gain knowledge of impaired oxygen availability and utilization that can impact diagnosis and therapeutic interventions for retinal and systemic diseases. Funded by multiple NIH grants, her ongoing research projects include translational studies to elucidate the pathophysiology and discover new therapies for retinal ischemia, a condition associated with visual impairment due to several retinal diseases. In addition, she is conducting clinical studies to identify biomarkers and artificial intelligence models for diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that can cause vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Dr. Shahidi also conducts experimental studies to link changes in the retina and cerebral cortex due to aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Zhou received funding from the National Eye Institute to study how novel ultrasound technologies can be used to treat diseases related to blindness and diagnose glaucoma. With this research, Dr. Zhou is hoping to create a wearable ultrasound device for patients. Similar to how ultrasound technology allows us to see fetuses in utero, this wearable ultrasound device may be able to generate sound waves to stimulate the retina to produce vision.