Datta lab studies molecular pathophysiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. AMD , which typically causes a progressive loss of central vision, is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly but has very limited treatment options. RPE cells, which form the blood-retina barrier, is one of the most energy demanding and stress-exposed cell types in the human body. RPE dysfunction is the salient feature of AMD and understanding this dysfunction is the first step towards treating the diseased RPE and thus arresting AMD progression. The overarching interest of the lab is to study mitochondrial function (mitophagy) and oxidative stress response in iPSC-RPE using cell biology and ‘omics’ approach and implementing small-molecule based therapies in mouse models. Current projects in the lab involve looking at EMT (epithelial to mesenchymal transition) and interferon signaling in the RPE.
The lab is funded through NIH grant and departmental start-up funds.