Ongoing Research in the Kazlauskas Lab
In 2015 Dr. Kazlauskas closed his academic research lab to transition to F. Hofmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, where he joined the Department of Ophthalmology and contributed to the drug development process. Changes in senior management resulted in a switch from early discovery research to repurposing of existing drugs. In 2017 Dr. Kazlauskas transitioned back to academia, to investigate the mechanism driving pathogenesis as a research strategy to improve current approaches to treat patients with PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy).
Pharmacosignaling in PDR
To this end the Kazlauskas Lab is seeking to expand the definition of anti-VEGF’s benefit in patients with PDR. The current definition is based on clinical parameters such the anatomy of the retina and visual acuity. While this description is valuable for patient care, it falls short of guiding the choice of alternative approaches to achieve the same end. The Kazlauskas Lab seeks to expand the definition to the molecular level, i.e. the changes in the signaling network that are associated with a therapeutic benefit. Learning the profile of the signaling network that is associated with a beneficial response will allow the design of alternative approaches to achieve the same end using clinically approved agents that target individual members of the signaling network. Such drugs cannot be used now because we do not know the molecular definition of a therapeutic benefit. In addition to enabling the development of new approaches to treat patients with PDR, molecularly defining a therapeutic benefit will define biomarkers that will improve our ability to diagnose susceptibility, monitor disease progression and the efficacy of intervention.
Our team consists of a principal investigator and two highly motivated and enthusiastic postdoctoral fellows.
ANDRIUS KAZLAUSKAS, PHD
Andrius Kazlauskas, PhD is a vascular biologist seeking to understand the pathogenesis of blinding eye diseases. He received his PhD in Chemistry from Cleveland State University, and was a postdoc at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he investigated signaling pathways by which receptor tyrosine kinase initiated cell proliferation in the context of cancer. As a faculty member at the University of Colorado and then Harvard Medical School, Dr. Kazlauskas interrogated signaling events underlying pathogenesis of cancer and retinal disorders such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), age-related macular degeneration and proliferative vitreoretinopathy. Dr. Kazlauskas obtained first-hand experience and insight in translational research while working in the Ophthalmology Department of F. Hoffman-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland. He returned to academia to elucidate signaling networks responsible for pathogenesis, and how therapeutic intervention rewires them.
YUERU LI (RURU)
Post Doctoral Fellow
Ruru completed her Ph.D at Auburn University. She is currently investigating how anti-VEGF rewires the signaling network in pathological blood vessels isolated from patients with PDR.
Anara completed her MSc degree at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. The goal of her project is to durably (via gene therapy) overcome diabetes-induced angiogenic dysfunction that is responsible for diabetic retinopathy.