Medical Student Research Projects

Projects with Ophthalmology Faculty

Throughout the year, Department of Ophthalmology faculty members welcome medical student involvement in research projects. Medical students interested in pursuing research in the Department of Ophthalmology should review the topics below and contact the faculty member directly.

Direct detection and quantification of the AREDS formulation in the mouse eye

Mentor: John D. Hulleman, Ph.D.

Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex and prevalent disease with very few potential treatments. Currently, the only suggestion by the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) for decreasing the chances of developing advanced atrophic AMD is to take daily doses of high levels of antioxidants (vitamins C and E), zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Presumably, these components are able to protect the retina through either indirect means (i.e., by altering the signaling throughout the body, which ultimately ‘trickles down’ to the eye), or through direct effects on retina (i.e., are physically transported to the retina). Yet, it is unclear which of these scenarios is true. Furthermore, whether this supplementation can protect the retina in mouse experimental models of retinal degeneration is unknown. 

Thus, we propose to administer the AREDS2 formulation to mice by oral gavage followed by quantification of the AREDS components in the mouse eye by mass spectrometry. Following these experiments, we will then assess whether the AREDS2 has any effect on basal antioxidant signaling in the mouse retina. Subsequently, we will then gauge whether pretreatment of mice with the AREDS formulation protects against light-induced retinal thinning and reduction in electroretinogram (ERG) signal.    

The student who undertakes this project will become proficient in mouse handling, tissue processing for biochemical, molecular biology and histological analysis, and assessment of retinal function. Ultimately, completion of this project will advance our understanding of how the AREDS formula may affect the retina, and whether this supplementation can also protect in mouse models of retinal degeneration.

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Projects with Ophthalmology Residents

These projects are usually posted midway through the academic year. For more information, please contact the Ophthalmology Education Office (214-648-3848 or

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