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Mumm Lab Focuses on Regenerative Eye Research

Mumm Lab Focuses on Regenerative Eye Research

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The Researcher

Name: Jeff Mumm, Ph.D.
Title: Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Years at Johns Hopkins: 4

The Research

Interests and Goals:

  • Studying how zebrafish can regenerate complex tissues such as the eye, focusing on the replacement of individual retinal cell types associated with blinding degenerative diseases.
  • Ultimate goal is to apply knowledge gained from zebrafish toward the development of transformative therapies designed to stimulate dormant capacities for retinal repair in the human eye, thereby restoring vision to patients.

Main Grants: 

  • The National Eye Institute, supporting large-scale genetic and chemical screens in zebrafish to identify factors regulating retinal regeneration.
  • The National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director, focused on improving a degenerative disease modeling system developed by Mumm’s team to facilitate studies on how specific cell types are regenerated.
  • The Foundation Fighting Blindness and the U.S. Department of Defense, supporting large-scale chemical screens to identify drugs that promote the survival of degenerating retinal photoreceptor cells and that protect the eye from blunt force trauma.
Video: Using confocal microscopy, Wilmer Eye Institute researcher Jeff Mumm narrates a short tour of a live zebrafish brain.

Highlights of Zebrafish Research: 

  • Developed a popular method of triggering the loss of targeted cell types useful for modeling degenerative diseases and studying the regeneration or function of specific cells.
  • To promote large-scale discovery, developed a complementary robotics-automated screening platform useful for quantifying cell loss and regeneration kinetics in thousands of living zebrafish per day.
  • Mumm and his lab team combine these systems to gain new insights into how the capacity for retinal regeneration is controlled at the cellular and molecular levels.

Recent Advancements: 

  • Recently completed several major retinal drug discovery screens in zebrafish and is currently testing lead candidates in mouse models.
  • Using a technique that allows Mumm and his team to make movies of how specific cell types respond to the loss of disease-associated retinal neurons, they recently implicated the immune system as a major regulator of retinal regeneration.
  • Currently following up on these studies, in collaboration with colleagues in the Wilmer Eye Institute's Center for Nanomedicine, to develop immune cell-targeted drug therapies designed to promote the regenerative potential of a retinal stem cell present in both the zebrafish and human eye.

Learn more at the Mumm lab website.

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