Yam Lab Receives National Institutes of Health U01 Grant to Explore Stem Cell-based Therapy for Cornea Scarring Disorders

September 8, 2023

Gary (Hin-Fai) Yam, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Ophthalmology have received a National Institutes of Health U01 grant to explore the development of a new stem cell-based approach to treat cornea scarring disorders, which can lead to corneal blindness. Their development could reduce dependence on donor tissues and give more people options for effective treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, corneal blindness is the fourth-leading cause of blindness worldwide. And while corneal transplantation can be an option for patients, post-operative complications, tissue rejection, and donor scarcity impact its application on a broad scale. Dr. Yam and his colleagues in the Corneal Regeneration Laboratory at Pitt are exploring new treatment designs to reverse corneal scarring, building on the groundbreaking work of the late James L. Funderburgh, PhD.


For this NIH-funded project, the Yam lab will work in collaboration with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) expert Michael Hsu, PhD, and his colleagues at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory to develop Chemistry and Manufacturing Control for GMP-grade cells, explore the potential benefits and risks of GMP-grade corneal stromal stem cells, and to analyze and mine data to inform future clinical trial design.