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The NEI supports a broad range of basic and clinical research to:

  • Investigate the various antigenic and anti-angiogenic factors and their resultant signal transduction pathways
  • Understand the role of immunity associated with transplantation and corneal graft destruction
  • Investigate methods to regenerate corneal endothelial cells and improve techniques to maintain endothelial cells
  • Increase our understanding of epithelial cell signaling in the cornea and develop strategies to improve the wound healing process
  • Characterize the normal regulation of all tissue associated with tear component formation to identify the dysfunctions occurring in dry eye disease
  • Identify the genes that contribute to the pathophysiology of all corneal disease
  • Develop high-resolution imaging techniques to diagnose and guide treatment of common corneal disorders
  • Understand keratoconus and treatment options
  • Address outcomes for the aging population of post-refractive surgery patient


Ocular Pain

  • Investigate the cornea nerves and response to pain
  • Dissect molecular, cellular, anatomical and/or neurobiological mechanisms of ocular pain and hypersensitivity
  • Elucidate the pathophysiology of ocular pain
  • Uncover neural adaptations (such as plasticity) in related ocular pathologies including dry eye disease, photophobia (photoallodynia), ocular surface itch, corneal burns, orbital pain, and ocular trauma
  • Optimize animal model studies directed at understanding eye pain
  • Develop instrumentation for diagnosing and quantifying pain
  • Investigate new approaches and therapeutics to treat and alleviate acute and chronic ocular pain

Program Directors

Corneal Injury and Repair
Tony Gover, Ph.D.

Ocular Pain
Houmam Araj, Ph.D.

Structure, Function, and Diseases of the Cornea
George A. McKie, D.V.M, Ph.D.

Last updated: September 9, 2022