The Therapeutic Development in Ophthalmology 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.
Jie Zheng, Laboratory Director
Dr. Zhenge is Professor, Ophthalmology at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, and also is a member of the Brain Research Institute, CTSI, JCCC Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program Area, Molecular Biology Institute, Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area. He is a faculty member for Cell & Developmental Biology GPB Home Area, Computational and Systems Biology Interdepartmental Program at UCLA.
Assistant Project Scientist
Dr. Zhang's research focuses on the study of steroid treatments, including the use of dexamethasone (Dex), which mediated the increase of intraocular pressure (IOP) and the risk of ocular hypertension leading to steroid-induced glaucoma. Dex treatment can lead to irregular trabecular meshwork (TM) structure and potentially reduce outward flow of intraocular fluid through altering Wnt signaling. In addition, Dr. Zhang uses novel Wnt small molecule regulators to investigate whether these modulators would affect Dex-mediated phenotype on primary human TM cells.
Graduate Student Researcher
Luis Sanchez is a PhD candidate at UCLA studying under Professor Jie J. Zheng. He completed his Bachelor of Science at San Francisco State University in the field of cellular and molecular biology. As an undergraduate student, he was a member of the distinguished NIH-Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) training program where he conducted research under the mentorship of Professor Laura W. Burrus focusing on Wnt morphogen gradient formation. Prior to his graduate studies, Luis joined Eureka Therapeutics, a bay area biotechnology start-up focused on the development of T-cell immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors. He is now focused on the isolation, culture, and mechanical property characterization of cells residing within the trabecular meshwork, an ocular tissue responsible for intraocular pressure homeostasis. In the future, Luis wishes to leverage his research background to contribute to the development of glaucoma therapeutics.
Email address: [email protected].
Christiana is a recent UCLA grad, graduating with Bachelors in Physiological Science and Minor in Environmental Systems and Societies. Currently she studies WNT expressions of WNT - mimic treated cells derived from cell lines. She is also working on analyzing RNA sequencing data via R to see how Dex affects WNT Signaling Expression.
Danny is a fourth-year Computational & Systems Biology undergraduate at UCLA with a minor in Entrepreneurship. He is currently working with our computational team to create a math model of the eye's Wnt signaling pathway with the goal of understanding the causes/treatments of eye cancers and retinitis pigmentosa.
Lorraine is a sophomore majoring in Human Biology and Society. Her current research focus at Zheng lab is to study how different treatments affect the WNT pathway of trabecular meshwork cells.
Joshua Samaniego is currently a UCLA 3rd Year Physiological Science undergraduate student with a minor in Global Health. His current research involves looking at the effects of dexamethasone on Wnt signaling expressions in Human TM cells.
Tiffany is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Biology. She is interested in investigating the contractility of the trabecular meshwork, a tissue that is critical for intraocular pressure homeostasis.
Jiapeng Han is a sophomore majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics. His current research focus at Zheng lab is to study how dexamethasone induces changes in the WNT pathway of trabecular meshwork cells.
Andrew is a fourth-year Computational & Systems Biology undergraduate at UCLA with a minor in Neuroscience and Entrepreneurship. Andrew is working on the development of a mathematical model of this pathway in order to identify trends and biomarkers which could be altered in order to delay, or even prevent oncogenesis in the human eye.
Emily Cohen, Weill Cornell Medical College, 2024
Kim Graybeal, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 2025
Mahta Marefat, Clinical Research Coordinator, House Institute Foundation, 2021
Sarkis Sislyan, USC School of Pharmacy, 2025