Congratulations to Dr. Uyhazi (and other co-authors at CAROT) for her recent paper on "Treatment Potential for LCA5-Associated Leber Congenital Amaurosis" and "Treatment Potential for LCA5-Associated Leber Congenital Amaurosis"
Jean Bennett, MD, PhD
Director, Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT)
Professor of Ophthalmology; Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Vice Chairman for Research, Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Scientist, Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Bennett is a physician-scientist with experience/expertise in molecular biology, vector development and gene therapy translational studies. She has established a true “from bench to bedside” program, and was the scientific leader of a team that translated reversal of blindness in animal models to demonstration of efficacy and safety in children and adults. This work led to the first and only approved gene therapy for inherited disease in USA and in Europe and the first approved gene therapy product targeting a retinal disease worldwide.
Brent A. Bell, A.A.S.
Brent Bell received an A.A.S. in Laser Electro-Optics at Texas State Technical College (Waco) and a B.S. in Electro-Optics at University of Houston. He worked as the Assistant Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at University of Texas (Galveston) and then served almost a decade as a Senior Principal Research Engineer at the Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland, where his established and managed a core resources facility for ocular imaging. He was recruited to UPenn in 2017 where he assists CAROT and other vision investigators with imaging and maintenance of instrumentation.
"All human beings by nature stretch themselves out toward knowing. A sign of this is our love of the senses; for even apart from their use, they are loved on their own account, and above all the rest, the one through the eyes. We prefer seeing against everything else. And the cause is that this one most of all makes us discover things, and makes evident many differences."
It's hard to imagine biology without eyes--Antoni van Leeuwenhoek squinting through his single lens microscope, shunning the crude compound microscopes at the time because its dual lenses causes aberrations and make his specimens fuzzy. He opted to crouch at his bench, to hold his head just at the right point to get a good look that inspired a systematic study of microbiology.
Scientists aim to have causal explanations that have the clarity of sight. With this sense of clarity come the possibility of deception. To avoid what the philosopher Georg Hegel referred to as picture thinking scientists have to cleverly design controls and make use of judgment not derived directly from pure observation. A negation of vision in some sense but nonetheless related to it.
Thu Thi Duong, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, CAROT induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core Facility
Dr. Thu Thi Duong received a B.S. in Medical Biotechnology from University of Science - Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She carried out research in reproduction and stem cell biology in Vietnam and in Japan and then initiated her Ph.D. work in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she conducted her dissertation research on development of personalized cell models of choroideremia and evaluation of gene-based disease interventions using such models in the labs of Drs. Jean Bennett and Jason Mills. Dr. Duong is currently developing personalized cell models for a variety of hereditary blinding diseases.
Georgia graduated from UPenn in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. She is working as a research specialist in the Bennett/Uyhazi Lab, and plans on attending medical school after two gap years. She is trained in mouse handling and colony maintenance, cryosectioning, immunofluorescence staining and microscopy, and various other laboratory techniques. ˇ
Josh Hackney-Power received his B.S. in Biology from La Salle University, where he performed undergraduate research on temperate phages, and he currently works with Dr. Jean Bennett's translational team at CAROT. While performing a variety of technical procedures, he works to hone his scientific and analytical skills. Aside from gene therapy, his interests include immunology and virology.
Nafis Khan graduated from Penn State University with a degree in biochemistry. Currently he is working in QC for the Clinical Vector Core.
Leo Lanfranco, Ph.D.
Dr. Leo received his B.S (in Biotechnology) and M.S. (in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology) from La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Leo has expertise in neurodegenerative disorders, cell biology, induced pluripotent stem (iPSC) biology, retinal degeneration, molecular biology, vector development and gene therapy translational studies. He carries out independent research on specific inherited forms of retinal degeneration.
Arkady Lyubarsky, Ph.D.
Dr. Arkady Lyubarsky received his Ph.D. in Biophysics and the Physiology of Vision and then spent 20 years with the Academy of Sciences of the USSR before he came to UPenn. He has worked with investigators of CAROT for two decades and has long-standing interest in connecting basic research with therapeutic developments. He currently designs and implements methods to evaluate safety and efficacy of strategies to maintain and/or restore visual function at CAROT. He also assists other vision investigators at UPenn in basic research and translational studies of retinal and visual function.
Paris Margaritas, DPhil
Director of Translational Programs
Dr. Margaritis earned his undergraduate degree in Genetics at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK). He subsequently did his doctorate work in the field of hemophilia gene therapy at the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford (UK). He continued his gene therapy research in Dr. Katherine A. High’s laboratory at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (PA, United States) before joining the Faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 (Division of Hematology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). There, he continued to gain research expertise and managed a team focusing on in vivo gene therapy approaches while interfacing with pharma on several translational sponsored projects in hemostasis in small and large animal models. He joined CAROT in October of 2019 and coordinates multiple corporate-sponsored gene therapy projects for ocular disorders. Dr. Margaritis is also an involved member of the major Gene Therapy and Hematology Societies and has served as a reviewer for the major Journals in those research fields.
Sergei Nikonov, Ph.D.
Dr. Sergei Nikonov graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia, and pursued electrophysiology training at the Institute of Cell Biophysics and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He is trained in patch clamp recording, mathematical modeling, design and development of electrophysiological instruments, and programming for data acquisition and data analysis. His interests in research include retinal electrophysiology and imaging (including intracellular signal transmission, retinal wiring, restoration of light responses in degenerated retinas).
Laboratory Manager and Research Project Manager
Jennifer Pham received her B.S. in Biology from Penn State University and gained research experience in both industry (Wyeth Pharmaceuticals) and academia. In academia she served as Research Project Manager the laboratory of Dr. Lee Sweeney and then was recruited to the Bennett Lab in 2014. She has numerous sophisticated technical skills, including design of gene cloning strategies, development of gene therapy projects, and she manages numerous laboratory inventories, and supervises scientists of every level of experience.
Maji earned a BA from LSU followed by a MS from Tulane University, where she first gained experience working in a molecular ophthalmology-focused lab. She is a member of the CAROT translational team and enjoys exploring the Philly arts and food scenes when she's not in the lab.
Katherine Uyhazi, M.D., Ph.D.
Retinal Degeneration Specialist
Dr. Uyhazi received her B.S. from the College of New Jersey, summa cum laude, and her MD/PhD from Yale School of Medicine with her PhD in Cell Biology. She completed her residency in ophthalmology at Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania where she will be completing a fellowship in Medical Retina and Retinal Degeneration in July 2019. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Uyhazi is carrying out independent basic and translational research at CAROT. Read More...
Document Control Specialist
I work as a Document Control Specialist in the Quality Assurance Department for the GMP Core. Previous experiences include over 10 years in the media advertising and 4 years of administrative support in the environmental testing industry.
Ivan Shpylchak received a degree in political science and started working at UPenn in 2009 as an animal care technician. He was recruited to CAROT in 2013, where he has contributed to and continues to contribute to numerous basic research and translational studies.
Lucas Van Gorder
Graduate Student, Cell and Molecular Biology, Gene Therapy and Vaccines Concentration, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Lucas Van Gorder graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Genetics and a minor in Biotechnology from North Carolina State University. He then served as a Scholar in the NIEHS Viral Vector Core, working on AAV delivered CRISPR/Cas9. Lucas began his graduate studies at UPenn in 2016, passed his PhD qualifying exams in 2018, and is carrying out basic and translational research on retinal disease for his Ph.D. dissertation.
Jenna Yesner graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She has over 5 years of experience in neuroscience associated research. The last 2 years she transitioned her focus to biotechnology, working on various cell/gene therapy specific projects. Jenna joined CAROT lab in 2019 as a manufacturing scientist, assisting in the manufacture of GMP clinical grade lentiviral and AAV recombinant viruses.
Min Wang has been working in cancer research for 14 years. She currently does AAV research core.
Zhangyong Wei has been a member of the Bennett Laboratory for more than a dozen years and runs the CAROT histopathology core facility. She has expertise in numerous technical procedures, ranging from fixation, embedding, cryosectioning, immunofluorescence assays, and specialized staining procedures.
Our lab has occasional openings for highly motivated scientists with relevant experience in neuroscience, genetics, molecular biology, regulatory affairs, and related fields. Please contact email@example.com to inquire about research opportunities in our Center.