The Ocular Surface Institute, or TOSI (pronounced as “To See”), is the leading ocular surface institute in the United States, with the goal of broadening translational research in ocular surface health. Over the years, the University of Houston, College of Optometry (UHCO) has shown a dedicated commitment to the pursuit of research across multiple aspects of vision science. In 2012, the opening of the Vision Institute located at the University of Houston Health & Biomedical Sciences Building, has provided the opportunity to advance ocular research with state of the art technology in a modern setting that is designed to facilitate collaborations across multiple disciplines. It is TOSI’s goal to develop the world’s broadest and most visionary research institute devoted to ocular surface translational research.
Operational Director, The Ocular Surface Institute
Kevin McDaid-Vision Source Professor, UHCO
Editor, Contact Lens Spectrum and Contact Lenses Today
Scientific Director, The Ocular Surface Institute
Golden-Golden Professor, UHCO
TOSI Advisory Board
Adjunct Professor, UHCO
Research Assistant Professorgqin@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Guoting Qin received her bachelor's degree in Chemistry in 2002 from the University of Science and Technology of China, and her PhD in 2007 from the University of Houston working on surface biofunctionalization, especially with antimicrobial peptides and carbohydrates. She then spent six years at Houston Methodist Research Institute at the Texas Medical Center, where her research focused on nano- /micro- particle-based imaging and drug delivery systems.
Assistant Professor, UHCOdberntsen@optometry.uh.edu Dr. David Berntsen’s research interests include juvenile–onset myopia, contact lenses, and both central and peripheral aberrations of the eye. He completed a Cornea and Contact Lens Advanced Practice Fellowship in 2004 at The Ohio State University where he examined the effects of overnight orthokeratology on higher–order aberrations, visual acuity, and refractive error–specific quality of life. He completed a PhD in Vision Science in 2009 at The Ohio State University where he conducted a randomized clinical trial evaluating current theories of myopia progression in children. His PhD training included a strong background in epidemiology and clinical trials methodology. Dr. Berntsen has been involved in multiple other adult and pediatric studies in the areas of contact lenses, dry eye, and higher-order aberrations of the eye.
Research Assistan Professor, UHCOdpowell@optometry.uh.edu Daniel Powell, OD PhD joined the College of Optometry faculty in 2013. In 1995, he received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Dr. Powell practiced in Washington State following completion of a medical-based eye care residency in Reno, Nevada. He relocated to Columbus, Ohio in 2007 to obtain his Master of Science (2011) and Doctor of Philosophy (2013) degrees from The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Dr. Powell served as a Clinical Instructor, was awarded the Beta Sigma Kappa Research Fellowship, and was a two-time recipient of the William C. Ezell Fellowship.
Professor, UHCOaburns@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Alan Burns is a Professor with 40 years experience in cell biology and microscopic imaging. During the past seven years, his research program has centered on the cornea. The location of the cornea makes it vulnerable to traumatic injury, either accidental or as a result of surgery. Healing of corneal wounds is of vital importance, not only to ensure the integrity of the eye but also to maintain the best possible visual acuity. The mechanisms regulating healing after corneal injury are not fully understood. Migration of inflammatory cells to the site of corneal injury appears to be beneficial for wound healing. Inhibition of inflammatory cell migration results in impaired wound healing, and decreased growth of specific cells in the cornea (keratocytes, nerves and epithelial cells). His experiments are designed to understand the mechanisms regulating inflammation and wound healing within the injured cornea.
Professor, UH Department of Chemistrycai@uh.edu Dr. Chengzhi Cai is a Professor at the University of Houston’s Department of Chemistry. He serves as the Director for Mass Spectrometry Laboratory and the Co-Directer for Chemical Biology Interdisciplinary Program at UH. He completed his PhD in Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH–Zurich) in 1996, followed by postdoctoral training at the Institute of Quantum Electronics, also at ETH–Zurich. His research involves organic synthesis, antimicrobial peptides, bacterial biofilms, organic thin films, surface functionalization and nanochemistry. In addition to the fundamental studies, he also work with collaborators to solve significant biological and biomedical problems of interest, particularly related to ocular surface diseases and novel approaches to characterizing, altering or developing contact lens polymers, and prevention of pathogenic biofilm formation.
Research Associate Professor, UHCOshanlon@optometry.uh.edu Since graduating from the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) in 1977, Dr. Hanlon has earned a master of science in higher education degree and a PhD in physiological optics. From 1999 to 2012 he served as a full-time clinical associate professor at the University of Houston, College of Optometry (UHCO) teaching clinical procedures laboratories and serving as a clinical attending in family practice. Prior to his appointment at UHCO, Dr. Hanlon was in private practice in the state of Washington four years, an instructor at SCCO for six years, chief of the eye clinic at an HMO on Guam for nine years, assistant professor and department chair at Southern College of Optometry for three years. After receiving his PhD in May of 2012, he has worked as a research associated professor at UHCO. His research includes in vivo and histological animal studies related to corneal inflammation and wound healing, as well as meibomian gland dysfunction and contact lens–related inflammatory events.
Research Assistant Professor, UHCOjmarsack@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Jason Marsack received a BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Texas, and a PhD in Physiological Optics and Vision Science from The University of Houston, College of Optometry. His primary research project centers on investigation of optical and visual performance associated with custom corrections for highly aberrated keratoconic eyes. His research interests include characterizing optical aberration of normal and pathological eyes, custom and pseudo-custom correction of optical aberration, visual performance, metrics of optical quality and the use of contact lenses as drug delivery vehicles.
Research Assistant Professor, UHCOjmathew@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Jessica H. Mathew obtained both her Doctor of Optometry degree (2005) and her PhD in Vision Science (2010) at the University of Houston College of Optometry. She then completed a Cornea and Contact Lens Research Fellowship at the University of Houston in 2011. Dr. Mathew is certified in Texas as an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist. She is a guest lecturer in the Ocular Anatomy and Physiology Course to first year students and also manages patients with severe corneal distortions (complex corneal conditions) who require specialty contact lenses. She is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry and is also a former William C. Ezell Fellow.
Associate Professor, UHCO
Chair, Department of Clinical Sciences
Assistant Professor, UHCOrredfern@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Rachel Redfern received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University. She then earned her Doctor of Optometry and PhD from the University of Houston, College of Optometry (UHCO) in 2005 and 2010 respectively. Dr. Redfern is a recipient of the Institutional Ruth Kirschstein National Research Post-doctorate Award and the ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award. She was previously funded by National Institute of Health and her research investigates the role of toll-like receptors in the pathogenesis of dry eye syndrome and their involvement in modulating the risk for infection when the ocular surface is compromised from dry eye.
OD/MS Candidate. Advisor: Rachel Redfern, OD PhDaalven.email@example.com Alyce Alven is currently pursuing her OD/MS at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) with plans of pursuing her PhD when she graduates in 2016. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Advertising from the University of Houston in 2010 with a focus in media buying and selling. Since beginning research in 2013 with UHCO's summer research program, her primary focus has been on dry eye with Dr. Kelly Nichols and now with Dr. Rachel Redfern investigating the role of damage associated molecular patterns in stimulating dry eye inflammation in patients and ocular surface cells. As president of Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, she also has participated in vision screenings, the Special Olympics, and has gone abroad to Mexico and Peru.
Post-doctoral Clinical and Research Fellowkbickle@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Bickle is a post-doctoral clinical and research fellow for TOSI at the University of Houston, College of Optometry. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics from The Ohio State University. Additionally, she concurrently pursued and received her Master of Science in Vision Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees from The Ohio State University. While attending optometry school, she was awarded the National Eye Institute T35 research grant. She was also a member of Beta Sigma Kappa along with several other optometric organizations. Her master's degree research focused on children's visual performance objectively and subjectively with soft bifocal contact lenses. She is a current member of the American Academy of Optometry. Dr. Bickle's research interests include contact lenses and dry eye disease. Her chief clinical interest includes fitting specialty contact lenses.
PhD Student. Advisor: Jason J. Nichols, OD MPH PhDsacox@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Cox is a Vision Science PhD student at University of Houston. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University in 2005 and a Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN in 2012. While in optometry school, Dr. Cox’s research interests and publications centered on vision therapy and binocular vision. She also held several leadership positions and participated in volunteer outreach opportunities while in optometry school. Her leadership was honored by induction into the Gold Key International Honor Society. She is the recipient of a UH Presidential Fellowship. Her current research interests include the neurology of the ocular surface. She currently serves as a research optometrist within TOSI part time and is a member of the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Optometry and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. In her spare time, Dr. Cox enjoys cooking, teaching and spending time with family.
PhD Student. Advisor: Kelly K. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhDjmeadows@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Meadows is pursuing a PhD in physiological optics from the University of Houston. Graduating with highest honors in 2008, she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from West Virginia University. She spent the following four years pursuing her Doctor of Optometry degree and her Master of Science degree in vision science at Ohio State University. During her tenure as a Buckeye, Dr. Meadows was the recipient of numerous awards and a student leader in many organizations, including serving as president for Gold Key Optometric Honor Society. Under the auspices of Beta Sigma Kappa, she served as one of two founding editors for a handbook on monumental eye studies that has since been printed and distributed for purchase to several optometry schools throughout the country. Her research interests for her MS degree focused on studying the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in dry eye patients, as well as developing a meibum expressibility scale to quantify the extent of reduction in those with dry eye. After graduating from optometry school, Dr. Meadows continued her training in a primary care and ocular disease residency at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, affiliated with University of California, Berkeley. Her advanced clinical training has broadened her perspective, permitting a better understanding of the clinical implications in research. She is now eager to be a part of the team at UH where she serves as clinical attending in the Ocular Diagnostic/Medical Eye Service and pursues additional research training in The Ocular Surface Institute.
Post-Doctoral Fellow. Supervisor: Alison McDermott, PhDjmanarang@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Manarang’s research in biological systems started as early as his undergraduate education, where his bachelor’s degree in biology paved the groundwork for higher learning in the health sciences. Pursing a medical degree has furnished Dr. Manarang with the experience and understanding to link biological research with its clinical applications. After practicing as a licensed physician in private clinics for a while, Dr. Manarang yearned for a more defined focus on the core biological sciences. He began his career in eye research when he joined the graduate program at the University of Houston College of Optometry in 2007. His interest immediately drew him to converge on cornea research in Dr. Alison McDermott’s lab, where he was initially involved in projects performing cytotoxicity studies on cells of the ocular surface. Dr. Manarang’s laboratory research expertise has since grown to include cell culture including acanthamoeba castellani trophozoites and cysts, RT-PCR, and various invitro killing assays, cell death and apoptosis assays, fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry applications and live cell imaging techniques.
PhD Student. Advisor: Jason J. Nichols, OD MPH PhDspanthi@optometry.uh.edu Shyam Panthi is a PhD student in Vision Science and Physiological Optics. He completed his Bachelor of Optometry degree from Tribhuvan University, Nepal in 2006. He then went on to work for an eye hospital in Nepal and in Dubai. During his optometry school and practice after graduation he developed an interest in Contact lenses. He joined the graduate program at University of Houston, School of Optometry in 2012. His interests have now broadened to dry eyes, tear film and contact lenses. He is a member of Nepalese Association of Optometrists and a student member of American Academy of Optometry.
PhD Candidate. Advisor: Alison McDermott, PhDreins@optometry.uh.edu Rose Reins is a PhD candidate in the Cell and Molecular Biology program at University of Houston. Rose graduated with a BA Biology from Baylor University and worked as a research technician in the McDermott lab prior to becoming a graduate student in 2010. Rose’s research interest lies in investigating the function of vitamin D at the ocular surface, with a focus on its role in modulating inflammation. Apart from her studies, Rose enjoys food and exercise and her two young daughters keep her happily busy.
Lab Managerhbaidouri@optometry.uh.edu Ms. Hasna Baidouri received her Bachelor of Science degree from Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida Morocco in 1995. After working as a medical technologist for two years she moved to the US and for several years worked as a research specialist studying HIV and cancer at both Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has been laboratory manager of the McDermott lab since 2010 working on diverse projects related to antimicrobial peptides, ocular surface infection and inflammation.
Office Coordinatorlcardenas@optometry.uh.edu Mrs. Laura Cardenas is currently attending the University of Houston-Downtown to earn her degree in General Education. Mrs. Cardenas has been working in the Optometry field for 10 years. She has been working for the University of Houston-College of Optometry for 3 years where she started by working in the Family Practice Services Department as an Optometry Assistant II, and now works for the TOSI Department as the Office Coordinator. Mrs. Cardenas handles the clinical side where she manages the appointment schedule and assists the doctors when needed along with other duties.
Researcherjcourson@optometry.uh.edu Justin Courson received his bachelor?s degree in Psychology and Brain Sciences as well as his bachelor?s degree in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2011. Prior to joining The Ocular Surface Institute, he has conducted years of research on the neuroplasticity involved in addiction as a researcher in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department of UCSB. His previous research has involved topics ranging from binge drinking, methamphetamine withdrawal, changes in the chemical synapses between the neurons governing cocaine seeking behavior, genetic predisposition to addiction, as well as a myriad of addiction related studies focused on protein and receptor expression in the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, as well as the central nucleus of the amygdala. In Dr. Rachel Redfern?s lab at The Ocular Surface Institute he will be focused on investigating the pathogenesis of dry eye inflammation as well as the risk of infection in dry eye-associated ocular surface damage using a murine model.
Lab Managerkdionne@optometry.uh.edu Ms. Karen Dionne earned her B.S. at the University of New Hampshire in 2000. Prior to joining the TOSI group, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry on small molecule drug screening and proteomics as well as in academia studying transcription factors and developmental markers. With over 10 years of experience in the laboratory using a wide array of molecular biology methods, she coordinates sample processing, preparation, and imaging using state of the art equipment and techniques.
Ophthalmic Technicianshuerta@optometry.uh.edu Mrs. Sonia Annette Huerta graduated from San Jacinto College Central with an Associate's Degree of Applied Science in Eye Care Technology. During this education she developed skills to assist optometrists and ophthalmologists in practice including pre-testing, contact lens fitting, and refraction. She gained experience by interning at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Retina Consultants of Houston, Wooten Vision Care, Northwest Eye Associates, Plastic Eye Surgery Associates, and Safety Rx. She has volunteered for the Essilor's Kid's Vision for Life "See to Succeed" SJC Collaborative Partnership Project. She currently works to assist in administrative duties of TOSI as well as assist the research optometrists during examinations.
Research Associateskolar@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Satya Kolar obtained her M.S. in Nutrition and Biochemistry from University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY and PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Satya received her MD from Bangalore University in India where she practiced as a clinician before moving to the U.S. of America.
Researcherclema@optometry.uh.edu Dr. Carolina Lema earned her BS degree in Biochemistry from Universidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz-Bolivia in 1994 and her PhD degree in Immunogenetics from Kagoshima University, Kagoshima-Japan in 2002. Her postdoctoral training was focused on cancer genomics and Toxicogenomics at the Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, TX. She previously worked as staff scientist at the Cell Culture and High-Throughput Screening Core Facility at the University of Texas at El Paso for five years. In February 2013, she joined Dr. Redfern’s lab at The Ocular Surface Institute to investigate the pathogenesis of dry eye inflammation and the risk for infection in the desiccated ocular surface.