Zhuo-Hua Pan is the Edward T. and Ellen K. Dryer Endowed Professor of Department of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences and scientific director of Ligon Research Center of Vision at Kresge Eye Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine.
Pan’s research is focused on the development of optogenetic approaches to cure blindness caused by retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). His group contributed to the early development of optogenetics by demonstrating the ability of ectopic expression of functional ChR2 in mammalian retinal neurons in vitro and long-term in vivo and also pioneered the strategy of optogenetic vision restoration. Using adeno-associated virus vectors to express ChR2 in inner retinal neurons, his group first demonstrated the feasibility of restoring visual responses in a mouse model of blindness. The optogenetic therapy for treating blindness caused by RP is currently in clinical trials. Pan’s group has continued to make progress in improving the optogenetic technologies for vision restoration, including the development of better ChR tools and effective retinal cell targeting strategies.