Dr. Deepak A. Lamba, M.B.B.S., PhD, Assistant Professor
Development of stem cell technologies for treating vision disorders
Dr. Lamba's research is focused on identifying new methods to treat degenerative vision disorders, including macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, using stem cell technology. He began this work as a graduate student developing methods of generating retinal cells from human embryonic stem cells. He has differentiated retinal neurons including photoreceptors, the cells in the eye that respond to light. His work is considered pioneering amongst those focused on developing efficient methods of making retinal cells in a laboratory dish. He has shown that these cells can be transplanted into the eyes of mice and rats. After testing vision in blind mice, the treated eyes are now responding to light. His lab is currently concentrating on long-term efficacy and safety studies which are essential before this form of therapy becomes available to patients.
Dr. Lamba is also interested in finding newer approaches of deriving patient-specific stem cells. Newer technologies are allowing scientists to reprogram skin cells into an embryonic stem cell counterpart called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) and then converting them to retinal cells. This will result in a better understanding of disease mechanism which in turn will provide an opportunity to discover treatments and drugs to halt photoreceptor cell death and either prevent or, at least, delay the degenerative process.
Dr. Lamba earned his medical degree from University of Mumbai, India and practiced as a physician in Mumbai, India before moving to the US to pursue full-time research. He received his Masters in Bioengineering from University of Illinois, Chicago where he worked on a chemically-stimulating retinal prosthesis device. He then moved to the University of Washington in Seattle where did his doctoral thesis and post-doctoral work on generating and transplanting retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells in the lab of Dr. Thomas Reh.