Current Students—Rene Choi
Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Advisor: M. Zuber, PhD
My research project consists of developing cell transplantation therapies for retinal diseases that lead to blindness. The most common retinal diseases in the western world are Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. These two diseases have the same end-results, which is the irreversible death of photoreceptors. My project entails using 7 key eye field transcription factors, which are necessary and sufficient to develop a fully functional eye in the frog species Xenopus laevis, to reprogram primitive ectoderm cells into retinal stem cells. I will then determine the ability of these reprogrammed retinal stem cells to replenish lost photoreceptors in a mature retinal environment.
Rene is the recipient of an NRSA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Eye Institute, NIH. His project title is "Fate of in vitro Generated Retinal Progenitors in the Mature Eye." His fellowship term is 2010-2014.
Rene Choi received two awards in the last year. He received the "Fundamental Issues in Vision" fellowship offered at Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, MA, 2008. It was funded fully by the National Eye Institute.
Rene also was awarded the Days of Molecular Medicine 2009 MD-PhD Scholarship. Rene attended the conference at Harvard Medical School in May, 2009. The Conference Title was "Human Genetics, Stem Cells and Physiology: The future of Individualized Medicine".
Choi Rene, Engbretson GA, Solessio E, Jones GA, Coughlin A, Aleksic I, Zuber ME. 2010. Cone Degeneration Following Rod Ablation in a Reversible Model of Retinal Degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(1):364-73. 2011.
Dr. Arthur Kornberg (a Nobel prize winner in medicine in 1959) once said, "basic research is the lifeline of medicine." And if I could extend his comment, I would add, "and publication is the lifeline of medical research." I think publishing one's work serves two important roles. The first is to communicate your work to the larger scientific community, and the second is to serve as a landmark for the completion of one aspect of your work, thus providing direction for the future scientific work. As a future physician scientist here at Upstate, I have numerous opportunities to get involved in activities and trainings to improve our skills needed for publications.