Assistant Professor of Research Ophthalmology
Dr. Thomas’s laboratory is focused on developing new treatment strategies for preventing blindness and or restoring vision based on drug delivery, small molecules, prosthesis and cell replacement therapies. For this, various retinal degeneration rodent disease models are used. Dr. Thomas has extensive expertise on various scientific and technological disciplines relevant to retinal transplantation research. This include subretinal implantation surgeries in rodents, electrophysiolgical testing of visual function in rodents based on ERG, mfERG and brain stem electrophysiology. Electrophysiological mapping of the superior colliculus (brain-stem electrophysiology) in rats and mice is a state of the art technology designed for measuring very low level (scotopic) light responses from the retina. Dr. Thomas has designed various instruments and techniques for visual behavioral testing in rodents and these were successfully implemented in various research projects. Dr. Thomas plays a major role in the ongoing stem cell project funded by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). This study is aimed at replacing the lost retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) through transplantation of functionally polarized hESC derived RPE cell monolayers. His specific role in the project is to design and implement various preclinical animal studies.
Dr. Thomas received his PhD in behavioral neuroscience from the Department of Zoology, University of Kerala, India in 1997. In January 2001, he joined the retinal transplant program at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Louisville, KY as a Postdoctoral fellow to perform behavioral and electrophysiological evaluation of visual function in rodents. In 2002 he moved to the newly founded USC Retina Institute and continued his post-doctoral studies on visual functional evaluations in rodents. As an Assistant Professor of Research at University of Southern California (USC) Vision Science Institute, Dr. Thomas is currently leading a laboratory focused on developing new therapies for retinal degeneration diseases. He has published more than 30 peer reviewed research papers with majority pertaining to therapies for retinal diseases.
List of Publications:
- Zhang L, Liu L, Philip AL, Martinez JC, Guttierez JC, Marella M, Patki G, Matsuno-Yagi A, Yagi T, Thomas BB. Long-term evaluation of Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy-like symptoms in rotenone administered rats. Neurosci Lett. 2015 Jan 12; 585:171-6.
- Diniz B, Thomas P, Thomas B, Ribeiro R, Hu Y, Brant R, Ahuja A, Zhu D, Liu L, Koss M, Maia M, Chader G, Hinton DR, Humayun MS. Subretinal implantation of retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from human embryonic stem cells: improved survival when implanted as a monolayer. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jul; 54(7):5087-96.
- Ribeiro RM, Oregon A, Diniz B, Fernandes RB, Koss MJ, Charafeddin W, Hu Y, Thomas P, Thomas BB, Maia M, Chader GJ, Hinton DR, Humayun MS. In vivo detection of hESC-RPE cells via confocal near-infrared fundus reflectance. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging Retina. 2013 Jul-Aug; 44(4):380-4.
- Hu Y, Liu L, Lu B, Zhu D, Ribeiro R, Diniz B, Thomas PB, Ahuja AK, Hinton DR, Tai YC, Hikita ST, Johnson LV, Clegg DO, Thomas BB, Humayun MS. A novel approach for subretinal implantation of ultrathin substrates containing stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium monolayer. Ophthalmic Res. 2012; 48(4):186-91.
- PhD, Dept. of Zoology, University of Kerala, India, behavioral neuroscience, 1997.
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Louisville, KY, retinal transplant program, 2001.
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