SURF

William Lin

Identifying and Characterizing a Genetic Modifier for Cataracts

The cataract, or clouding of the lens of the eye, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Currently, the only effective treatment to remove cataracts is surgery, which costs $6.8 billion annually in the United States. Understanding the underlying mechanisms that cause cataracts may lead to new therapeutic strategies to prevent or delay the progression of cataracts, thereby alleviating the need for surgical intervention and possibly saving billions of dollars. Gap junctions are membrane channels that connect adjacent cells, allowing the transfer of metabolites, ions, and other small molecules for maintaining normal transparency of the lens. Previous research from the Gong Lab has shown that the deletion of alpha3 connexin, a primary component of lens gap junctions, results in severe cataracts in the 129SvJae (129) mouse strain but displays mild cataracts in the C57BL/6J (B6) mouse strain. My research project seeks to identify and characterize a novel genetic modifier on mouse chromosome 2, which is responsible for suppressing cataract severity.

Message to Sponsor

I am incredibly grateful to the SURF program and the Pergo Foundation for giving me the opportunity this summer to conduct my own independent research project on cataracts in the Gong Lab. I am excited to conduct research on an eye condition that affects so many people, including my own grandparents. This experience will allow me to further explore my interest in research, learn valuable skills, and challenge myself in new ways. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind cataracts and make meaningful contributions to the scientific and medical community.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Pergo Fund
  • Mentor: Xiaohua Gong