Cornea Transplant Research

The Johns Hopkins Cornea Transplant Program brings innovation to cornea transplantation research. Our surgeons and researchers are actively engaged in various research topics from artificial corneas to treating keratoconus. Learn more about ongoing research pursuits for cornea transplantation and treatment.

Faculty Research

Esen Karamursel Akpek, M.D.

Dr. Esen K. Akpek, Bendann Professor of Ophthalmology and Rheumatology, is exploring alternative solutions to address the lack of access to corneal transplantation worldwide. Specifically, the single-most limiting factor curing corneal blindness is the significant shortage of corneal transplant tissue. Dr. Akpek is investigating the suitability of gamma-irradiated sterile corneal lenticules, an alternative tissue source, that may reduce the burden of corneal tissue shortage. The advantage of this tissue over traditional donor tissue is the lower cost, longer shelf-life and elimination of eyebanking requirements. Her multicenter international clinical trial is currently investigating results of this novel tissue in patients who need emergency corneal transplantation for infections and trauma.

Esen Akpek, M.D., picture

Albert S. Jun, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Albert S. Jun’s research aims to develop synthetic corneal tissue to replace human cadaver corneal tissue as the donor source for corneal transplantation. The leading cause of corneal transplantation is an abnormality of the corneal endothelium, a layer of cells on the inside surface of the cornea. Corneal transplantation with cadaver donor corneas is common, but there are shortcomings including limited availability of corneal donors and technical difficulty of surgery using human tissue. To address these issues, Dr. Jun and his co-workers are developing a synthetic alternative to human donor tissue that is easier to handle in surgery. This method could represent a new and improved way of performing corneal transplant surgeries for disorders of the corneal endothelium.

cornea transplant - image of Dr. Jun

Uri Simcha Soiberman, M.D.

Dr. Soiberman's current keratoconus research is funded by a National Eye Institute career development award. The study aims to assess how dysregulation of the Wnt signaling pathway in the corneal epithelium affects the mechanical strength of cornea. Patients undergoing corneal collagen cross-linking for treatment of progressive keratoconus or post-refractive surgery (LASIK) corneal ectasia are actively enrolled in this study.

cornea transplant - image of Dr. Soiberman

Divya Srikumaran, M.D.

Dr. Srikumaran’s current research interest includes the assessment of corneal transplant outcomes and risk factors for needing corneal transplant through big data sources including Medicare claims data and eyebank data. She recently received the Hoskins Center IRIS Registry Research Fund Award through the American Academy of Ophthalmology to assess disparities in endothelial keratoplasty outcomes the most frequently performed type of corneal transplant surgery in the United States.

cornea transplant - image of Dr. Srikumaran

Michael Edmund Sulewski, Jr, M.D.

Dr. Sulewski’s research focuses on examining outcomes of corneal transplantation using insurance claims data. More specifically, he is studying how indications for full-thickness corneal transplantations (penetrating keratoplasty) have evolved over the past two decades with the advent of endothelial keratoplasty, as well as the long-term outcomes of penetrating keratoplasty in current clinical practice. Currently it is not known whether or not there is a limit to how many penetrating keratoplasty surgeries a patient can receive with reasonable expectation of successful outcome. Dr. Sulewski is also studying repeat corneal transplantation outcomes compared with those of artificial corneal devices (keratoprosthesis) to better define future indications for each procedure.

cornea transplant - image of Dr. Sulewski