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Eye Research Institute

Dodge Hall
118 Library Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4479
(location map)

Eye Research Institute

Dodge Hall
118 Library Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4479
(location map)

professor standing over a student looking in a microscope with two computer display screens

About the ERI

For 50 years, the ERI has conducted research into the underlying causes and possible cures of many eye diseases. Faculty members have received more than $50 million in grants from public and private health agencies to support work on preventing blindness and vision loss.The center’s primary mandate is to conduct research into the underlying causes of eye diseases that result in blindness and loss of vision, and is an independent academic unit of Oakland University.

Director's Message
Mohamed Al-Shabrawey

Welcome to the Eye Research Institute (ERI) webpage! We invite you to explore the site to learn more about our investigators, ongoing research, programs and goals. Our mission is to support basic and clinical research to understand the pathophysiology of eye diseases and discover new therapeutic targets to prevent and treat vision-threatening eye diseases.

The ERI has a fine history of excellence in vision research that has extended for 50 years, with major funding support received from the National Eye Institute during this time. In 2021, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) founded the Eye Research Center to further support the mission of the ERI and provide additional resources to promote translational research and expand vision research at Oakland University. The ultimate goal is to conduct state-of-the-art research in Vision Sciences and Ophthalmology to enhance the understanding of fundamental processes in ocular tissues that lead to eye diseases. Our research laboratories provide an environment for the training of advanced undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in the vision sciences, or the medical sciences in general. In addition, we offer research opportunities for medical students, residents and fellows in ophthalmology.

Our investigators conduct full-time research that include and are not limited to diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, retinal degenerative diseases and age-related macular degeneration. Biochemical, physiological, molecular and cell biological approaches are used to study ocular tissues to better understand eye function in both health and disease. Recent advances in the genetics of eye disease mean that molecular approaches have become increasingly important laboratory tools.

In 2011, the ERI dedicated a new Pediatric Retinal Research Laboratory (PRRL), which continues the legacy of the first ERI Director, V. Everett Kinsey. Funding from the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation helps to support the operation of the PRRL and has allowed the purchase of state-of-the-art retinal imaging equipment for use with animal models. In 2014, the wife of Dr. Kinsey, Irene Kinsey Stare, left the ERI $3.7 million to establish an Endowed Professorship in her husband's honor.

We hope this webpage introduces you to our faculty and their research. I urge you to contact any faculty member or me if you have further questions.

Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, MBBCH (M.D.), M.Sc., Ph.D.
Professor in the Department of Foundational Medical Studies
Professor in Eye Research Institute and V. Everett Kinsey Endowed Professor
Founding Director, Eye Research Center, OUWB
Director, Eye Research Institute, Oakland University

Who we are

The ERI occupies the entire fourth floor of Dodge Hall with additional laboratories on the third floor. The institute has full-time faculty members, research associates, post-doctoral fellows, affiliated clinical faculty, support staff and students.

Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Oakland University as science majors have the opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty. They experience not only the rigor of the scientific method but also the rewards of attacking problems associated with human health and disease.

History and Mission

Founded in 1968 by Dr. V. Everett Kinsey and Dr. Venkat N. Reddy, the ERI began as a 10,000 square foot facility funded by a National Institutes of Health Construction Grant. The institute was recognized as a center of excellence in vision research in 1984 with the receipt of a Core Vision grant from the National Eye Institute. This milestone allowed the institute's expansion and the creation of staffed core facilities in electron microscopy and tissue culture.

A second growth phase occurred in 1989, when clinical professorial appointments in the institute were granted to senior members of the Department of Ophthalmology at William Beaumont Hospital. The partnership between the Eye Research Institute and the Ophthalmology Department fosters collaborative research and provides a joint ophthalmology residency and fellowship program.

Dr. Venkat Reddy retired in 1997 as director of the institute after 22 years of service. Dr. Janet Blanks from the Doheney Eye Institute at the University of Southern California served as director from 1997 to 2002. Dr. Frank Giblin, distinguished professor emeritus, was director until July 2021. Dr. Mohamed Al-Shabrawey is the current director. 

A Legacy of Outstanding Research

Co-founder and first director of the ERI, Dr. V. Everett Kinsey was the recipient of the 1956 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award from the Lasker Foundation for his outstanding work as coordinator of the National Cooperative Study of Retrolental Fibroplasia.

With the help of 75 ophthalmologists and pediatricians in 18 hospitals, this study confirmed conclusively earlier observations that the incidence of blindness among premature babies increased with the duration of exposure to oxygen.

Previous research had eliminated other possible etiologic agents, such as virus infection, lack of hormones in the infant, exposure of the premature infant's eyes to light, lack of vitamin A in the mother, the administration of various vitamins and iron, blood transfusions and cow's milk. Dr. Kinsey, a biochemist, had participated in many of the studies on these possible agents.

Within a period of six months, data were accumulated through the cooperative study that would have taken a single hospital several years. Among babies weighing less than 1500 grams at birth, 25 percent of the infants receiving routine oxygen developed cicatricial retrolental fibroplasia, while only 6 percent of the infants on curtailed oxygen had the condition. The study showed that limiting the oxygen was without effect on survival.

In the United States alone, putting into effect the results of this coordinated research should prevent blindness in several hundred premature infants each year.

Upcoming Lectures

Sept. 12, 2023
OU ERI Kinsey Seminar Series

Patricia A. D'Amore, Ph.D., MBA, Harvard Medical School

Oct. 17, 2023
OUWB ERC Distinguished Speakers Seminar Series

Samer Hattar, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health

Nov. 14, 2023
OU ERI Kinsey Seminar Series

Ashay Bhatwadekar, Ph.D., MPHARM, Indiana University

Dec. 12, 2023
OUWB ERC Distinguished Speakers Seminar Series

Claudio Punzo, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts