The Corneal Biology Laboratory is staffed by postdoctoral researchers, students and volunteers. Laboratory researchers originate from different parts of the world and represent both vision-specific and general cell biological disciplines. Their diverse backgrounds bring a broad scope of knowledge, perspectives, and methods to the laboratory’s research activities.
Sheyla Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Assistant Project Scientist
I received my bachelor’s degree in Cell Biology and Genetics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2006. I was then granted with a fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education to study the molecular regulation of the degradation of substrates by the proteasome under the supervision of Dr. Bernat Crosas at the IBMB-CSIC (Spain). In 2007, I was accepted in the Cell Biology Ph.D. program at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). I spent the first two years investigating the differential potential of mouse embryonic stem cell lines (ESC) established from isolated blastomeres at different embryonic stages. After receiving my Masters’ degree in 2008, I continued to investigate deeper into the molecular mechanism of the regulation of stemness in vitro, by studying the effects of E-cadherin signaling in the derivation of mouse ESC lines. Having developed a background in stem cell biology, in 2011, I joined Dr. Sophie Deng’s Laboratory. As a Postdoctoral Scholar, I have been investigating the role of Notch signaling in the regulation of human corneal epithelial stem cells (LSCs). In 2016, I transitioned into the role of an Assistant Project Scientist at the Stein Eye Institute, where I continue my research while I further solidify my skills in the project management field, working in a translational project to regenerate the corneal surface by using in vitro expanded LSCs.
Aurelie Dos Santos, Ph.D.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Brest, France. Later on, I graduated with a PhD in Experimental Medicine at the University of Tübingen, Germany, under the mentorship of Prof. Hubert Löwenheim. My PhD work was focused on hair cell regeneration in the mammalian auditory sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, using different sources of stem cells. My current work is focused on regenerative and translational medicine for the cornea, especially on stem cell-based therapies for corneal stromal injuries.
Jonathan Rodriguez, Ph.D.
I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Genetics, Cell Biology and Pathology at the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. During these years, I worked on cancer cells and the involvement of stress proteins in pancreatic cancer progression. I also worked on the metabolic reprogramming in Hepatitis B infected cells. My PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Ali Mojallal and Dr. Odile Damour, was focused on the use of mesenchymal stem cells from fat to accelerate skin wound healing, in a translational medicine point of view. Therefore, I built up my knowledge regarding how to reach the clinics from the bench, facing the regulatory authorities and the inherent hurdles. At the Stein Eye Institute in Dr. Sophie Deng’s lab, we are working on a process of xeno-free culture of limbal stem cells from a small limbal biopsy. Personally, my postdoctoral studies are focused on the development of quality controls to qualify our cell-based therapeutic product. To do so, I am giving interests in miRNA excreted by the cells during their growth, the cell phenotyping using multi-parametric flow cytometry in addition to their metabolic behavior. Besides this, I love playing golf, cooking and tasting/sharing wine with friends.
I received my B.S. in Microbiology in 2016. During my undergrad I worked in a cancer research lab and a microbial genomics lab studying the bacterial diversity found in permafrost samples. In Dr. Deng’s lab my primary focus is on the limbal stem cell deficiency project. Completing all the immunohistochemistry, helping with cell collection, and compiling and analyzing data.
Qihua Le, M.D. Ph.D.
Assistant Project Scientist
I received my M.D. in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2007, both at Fudan University, Shanghai, China. After finishing my residency and fellow training, I became a faculty of Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital of Fudan University. My specialty is ocular surface disorders and I’m familiar with in vivo imaging techniques commonly used in the diagnosis of ocular surface diseases. I’m interested in the study of anterior segment abnormalities by the application of in vivo imaging technique, especially in vivo confocal microscopy and anterior segment optical coherence tomography. I joined Dr. Deng’s group in 2016. My work is focused on collecting the clinical data of patients diagnosed with limbal stem cell deficiency, doing in vivo confocal microscopy, anterior segment optical coherence tomography and impression cytology for these patients, and analyzing the data. In my spare time, I like listening to music, singing and cooking.
Clinical Research Coordinator
I received my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Davis in 2014. While working in the public policy sector I worked with and researched various health care campaigns and decided to make the transition into pursuing a career in medicine. As a clinical research coordinator my primary focus is on the conduct of both investigator initiated and industry sponsored studies including maintaining regulatory compliance and research subject management. I have experience in data collection and analysis as well as corneal imaging techniques using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and confocal microscopy.