skip to main content

Ophthalmic Vascular Research Program


In 1997, the Scott & White Board of Trustees approved the establishment of up to 12 Centennial Chairs, each endowed at a minimum of $1 million to commemorate Scott & White's centennial and to advance research efforts at Scott & White. Scott & White committed $500,000 to match each gift of $500,000 or more for each chair. The program was designed to support the work of a distinguished researcher or educator.

As a result of that effort, support of ophthalmology services at Scott & White grew substantially in 1999 when five members of the Kruse family, longtime patients of Scott & White, established the Kruse Family Centennial Chair in Ophthalmology.

Dr. Lih Kuo, with his expertise in microvascular research, was endowed as the Chair and the Director of Ophthalmic Vascular Research Program (OVRP) in 2003. The research laboratory renovation for the OVRP on the Temple campus was completed in February 2004. Kuo moved his laboratories from College Station to the Temple campus in March 2004. The Ophthalmic Vascular Research Laboratories were inspected for operation in July 2004.


Goals & Accomplishments

The long-range goal of the OVRP is to establish a nationally and internationally recognized ophthalmic vascular research laboratory at Baylor Scott & White Health and Texas A&M Health Science Center for basic, translational, and clinical research. The short-range, four to six years, goals are to 1) provide a foundation for faculty development, 2) generate extramural research funds, 3) establish retinal vascular disease models in the pig (with similarities to the human ophthalmic circulation in anatomy and physiology), 4) develop a research reputation in the field of retinal vascular research, 5) participate in medical and residency education in ophthalmology. Kuo utilizes his expertise in microvascular research to develop/establish necessary skills, methodology and technology for studying the ophthalmic microvasculature focusing on retinal vasomotor regulation in health and disease.

In terms of faculty development and extramural funding, Dr. Robert Rosa was an associate professor of ophthalmology and jointed the OVRP in 2003 as a clinician scientist. Rosa focuses on retinal vasomotor regulation by pressure, flow and tissue metabolites. He received an NIH K08 Clinical Scientist Development Award from the National Eye Institute in 2006 and was promoted to full professor in 2008. He also participates in stem cell research focusing on the treatment of retinal degeneration. Dr. Travis Hein was recruited to the OVRP in 2003 as a research assistant professor. Hein focuses on the development of retinal vascular disease and received R01 research grants from the National Eye Institute in 2008 and 2014. He was promoted to associate professor of ophthalmology/surgery in 2009. Hein, with support from the OVRP, received an instrumentation grant from the NIH for purchasing a VisualSonics ultrasound machine for ocular hemodynamic measurements in vivo. Our research is also continuously supported by the Retina Research Foundation (RRF).

In terms of animal models, we have developed a retinal ischemia model in the pig for studying cellular/molecular mechanisms of vasomotor dysfunction associated with retinal ischemia (Hein's 2008 R01). Recently, we have also developed a type I diabetes model in the pig to study retinal vascular dysfunction associated with diabetic retinopathy, and recently obtained R01 funding from the National Eye Institute to support this work (Hein and Kuo's 2014 R01). We are currently developing hypertensive retinopathy mouse model for ocular research.

In terms of the development of research recognition, we continuously receive research supports from both NIH and RRF and continuously publish research results in reputable ophthalmology and visual science journals. The OVRP faculty routinely performed grant and manuscript reviews for different funding agencies and journals and was invited to give scientific seminars and conference talks at national and international meetings. Kuo was invited to present our current work and future development of ophthalmic vascular research to the RRF Board of Directors in 2008, 2011 and 2013. He received the James M. Barr Award for Outstanding Retina Research Achievement in 2009 and the Adolphe G. and Josephine Roberts Gueymard Research Project Award in 2013 from the RRF. In terms of medical education, many medical students and ophthalmology residents have selected our labs for their research training/rotation. Three MD/PhD students have been under supervision by the OVRP faculty. Some of the students and residents presented their research works at local/national meetings and contributed as co-authors on several manuscripts. Several postdoctoral/research fellows have completed their training and are now independent researchers in the academic/clinical research field.


Recent Peer Reviewed Manuscripts

  • Hein TW, Ren Y, Potts L, Yuan J, Kuo E, Rosa RH Jr, and Kuo L. Acute retinal ischemia inhibits endothelium-dependent nitric oxide-mediated dilation of retinal arterioles via enhanced superoxide production. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 53:30-36, 2012.
  • Potts LB, Ren Y, Lu G, Kuo E, Ngo E, Kuo L, and Hein TW. Constriction of retinal arterioles to endothelin-1: requisite role or rho kinase independent of protein kinase C and L-type calcium channels. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 53:2904-2912, 2012.
  • Nakabayashi S, Nagaoka T, Tani T, Sogawa K, Hein TW, Kuo L, and Yoshida A. Retinal arteriolar responses to acute severe elevation in systemic blood pressure in cats: Role of endothelium-derived factors. Exp Eye Res 103:63-70, 2012.
  • Hein TW, Potts LB, Xu W, Yuan Z, and Kuo L. Temporal development of retinal arteriolar endothelial dysfunction in porcine type 1 diabetes. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 53: 7943-7949, 2012.
  • Potts LB, Bradley PD, Xu W, Kuo L, and Hein TW. Role of endothelium in vasomotor responses to endothelin system and protein kinase C activation in porcine retinal arterioles. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 54:7587-7594, 2013.
  • Hein TW, Qamirani E, Ren Y, Xu X, and Kuo L. Selective activation of LOX-1 mediates C-reactive protein evoked endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in coronary arterioles. Circ Res 114: 92-100, 2014.
  • Hein TW, Rosa RH Jr, Ren Y, Xu W, and Kuo L. VEGF receptor-2-linked PI3K/Calpain/SIRT1 activation mediates retinal arteriolar dilations to VEGF and shear stress. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 56:5381-5389, 2015.
  • Mehra NK, Cai D, Kuo L, Hein TW, Palakurthi S. Safety and toxicity of nanomaterials for ocular drug delivery applications. Nanotoxicology 10:836-860, 2016.
  • Hein TW, Xu W, Xu X, Kuo L. Acute and chronic hyperglycemia elicit JIP1/JNK mediated endothelial vasodilator dysfunction of retinal arterioles. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57 :4333-4340, 2016.
  • Otani S, Nagaoka T, Omae T, Tanano I, Kamiya T, Ono S, Hein TW, Kuo L, Yoshida A. Histamine-induced dilation of isolated porcine retinal arterioles: Role of endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57: 4791-82016, 2016.
  • Tsai S-H, Xie W, Zhao M, Rosa RH Jr, Hein TW, Kuo L. Alterations of ocular hemodynamics impair ophthalmic vascular and neuroretinal function. Am J Pathol 188:818-827, 2018.
  • Zhao M, Xie W, Tsai S-H, Hein TW, Rocke BA, Kuo L, Rosa RH. Intravitreal stanniocalcin-1 enhances new blood vessel growth in a rat model of laser induced choroidal neovascularization. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 59:1125-1133, 2018.
  • Xie W, Zhao M, Tsai S-H, Burkes WL, Potts LB, Xu W, Payne HR, Hein TW, Kuo L, Rosa RH Jr. Correlation of spectral domain optical coherence tomography with histology and electron microscopy in the porcine retina. Exp Eye Res 177:181-190, 2018.


Peer Reviewed Abstracts

  • Hein TW, Potts LB, Ren Y, Kuo L. Retinal arteriolar endothelial dysfunction in early stage of diabetes in porcine model. FASEB J 24:592.4, 2010.
  • Rosa RH Jr, Roddy GW, Krause U, Prockop DJ. Feasibility study on intravitreal and subretinal delivery of adult stem/progenitor cells (MSCs) for retinal repair. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 51:E-Abstract 3153, 2010.
  • Potts LB, Hein TW, Lu G, Ren Y, Ngo E, Kuo L. Selective activation of ROCK2 isoform contributes to vasomotor regulation of retinal arterioles. FASEB J, 2011.
  • Potts LB, Kuo E, Lu G, Ren Y, Ngo E, Kuo L, Hein TW. ROCK-II isoform and PKC mediate porcine retinal arteriolar constriction to endothelin-1. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2011.
  • Roddy GW, Rosa RH Jr, LaVail MM, Matthes MT, Yasumura D, Oh JY, Prockop DJ. Intravitreal administration of adult stem/progenitor cells and their secreted proteins delays retinal degeneration in two rat models. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 52:E-Abstract 2218, 2011.
  • Oh JY, Roddy G, Choi H, Lee RH, Rosa RH Jr, Prockop DJ. Defining a therapeutic window for sterile injuries of cornea: the anti-inflammatory protein (TSG-6) inhibits the severe second phase of inflammation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 52:E-Abstract 1122, 2011.
  • Potts LB, Kuo L, Xu W, Hein TW. Signaling pathway for porcine retinal arteriolar constriction to PKC activation: Roles of L-type voltage-operated calcium channels, myosin light chain kinase and myosin light chain phosphatase. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 53:E-Abstract 6845, 2012.
  • Potts L, Ren Y, Kuo L, Hein T. Endothelium independence of ROCK-mediated retinal arteriolar constriction. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 54:E-Abstract 3703, 2013.


Awards & Honors

April 2015

Dr. Shu-Hua Tsai, Postdoctoral Research Associate, won the first place prize in the postdoctoral poster competition at the Graduate Student Organization Research Symposium held on the Bryan campus. The title of his poster was Arterial hypertension induces retinal degeneration in mice with pressure-overload cardiac hypertrophy . Tsai is mentored by Dr Lih Kuo, Kruse Professor and Director of the Ophthalmic Vascular Research Program.